What they do
Funeral directors plan and coordinate funeral arrangements according to the wishes of the deceased or their relatives. They arrange for the collection of the deceased from the hospital, mortuary or place of death and complete necessary paperwork to register the death. Funeral directors interview families to discuss matters such the type of coffin, floral arrangements, type of service, after-service catering and all other aspects of the funeral and reception. In some cases, they may also assist in dressing and preparing the body for viewings and open casket services. Funeral directors may also be responsible for managing the actual business, which includes organising finances, marketing, and hiring and training staff.
Funeral directors work in mortuaries, and the offices and workshops attached to funeral homes. They are also expected to travel to hospitals, private residences, places of worship, cemeteries and crematoriums. They work closely with people from a wide variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, who are often experiencing an emotionally difficult or traumatic time. Funeral directors must understand and respect the different ways in which people deal with death and the loss of a loved one, offering emotional support where required, while maintaining a professional manner. Funeral directors generally work irregular hours, which may include working nights, weekends and public holidays. They are often on call and must be available to clients. At larger funeral homes the on-call roster may be rotated between several funeral directors.
Tools and technologies
Funeral directors arrange the presentation of various elements of a funeral including flowers, coffins/caskets, photographs and monuments. They may also drive a hearse or limousine to transport the deceased and close family and friends to a funeral service. They will also use general office equipment, such as computers and telephones, for a range of activities, including writing notices for newspaper publication and managing business activities. Funeral directors need to maintain a well-groomed appearance and will generally be required to wear formal business attire.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a funeral director without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in funeral operations, funeral services or a related area.
The Certificate III in Funeral Operations and Certificate IV in Funeral Services are offered at TAFE colleges throughout Western Australia. To find a training provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website or visit the My Skills website.
You can also undertake a traineeship in funeral services. The funeral services (level 4) traineeship usually takes 24 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing
In Western Australia, Funeral Directors are required to hold a licence to conduct a funeral at a cemetery, this is issued under the Cemeteries Act 1986 by the Board responsible for the care, control and management of that cemetery.
The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board (MCB) issues licences for cemeteries within their care, control and management.
Funeral Directors who conduct funeral services at cemeteries other than those with the MCB will be licenced by regional cemetery boards or local councils.