Many countries do not have specific educational requirements to become an embalmer, although there are certain school subjects that are very helpful, such as cosmetology studies, anatomy, science, biology, chemistry, and language arts. Although many embalmers learn as part of a family business, licensing regulations in countries such as the U.S. or Canada involve specific educational requirements. Certification in the U.S. requires at least a bachelor or associate degree in mortuary science. These programs include courses in embalming and restorative techniques, as well as ethics, grief counseling, business law, and funeral services. An apprenticeship under the supervision of a licensed funeral director is also necessary, lasting from one to three years. National and State board examinations must be taken.
In Canada minimum education is one-year of postsecondary training, but most employers in the profession prefer a two-year Embalmer Licensure program or the equivalent. Several online/distance programs are available. These require a high school diploma and minimum marks in Biology and Chemistry for acceptance, and students need to be sponsored by a funeral home where they can complete the work experience component. There are also seminars and workshops to help workers stay current and learn new aspects of their craft. In the U.K. no formal qualifications are required, but training is available through two-year courses that lead to licensing and accreditation.
Licensing and regulation varies from country to country, but most embalmers need some type of certification, particularly if they are also acting as funeral directors. Many countries also require continuing education credits to maintain certification.
Some of the personal characteristics that are important for an individual considering this career include:
physical strength and stamina
emotional stability and good mental health
an interest in science, art, and clinical or medical topics
good manual dexterity
interpersonal skills and a compassionate and caring attitude
good time-management ability
understanding and respect for different cultures and religious beliefs