How To Become An Embalmer
Embalmers treat and preserve bodies prior to burial or cremation. This is essentially a caring role, and involves cleaning, preserving and presenting a body, working closely with a funeral director to ensure that the wishes of relatives are met. Embalmers need to be sensitive to other people’s feelings and take a dignified approach to their work. The role can often include restoring the appearance of bodies following injury and it will help if you are good with your hands, perhaps with a background in art. You will also need a strong stomach as you may well be required to repair dismembered or damaged bodies.
You will not need any formal qualifications but it will help to have GCSEs in English and maths (Level 2), as well as science qualifications such as chemistry and biology.
The most common route into a career as an embalmer is to seek an entry-level position with a funeral director or mortuary. You can then find a training course that is approved by the British Institute of Embalmers who will put you in touch with an accredited tutor. The best known qualification is accredited by the International Examinations Board of Embalmers (IEBE) and consists of six modules, finishing with a final practical assessment. An alternative is to take one of the small number of Foundation Degrees available in mortuary science. Most embalming courses are part-time.
Average Working Hours Per Week = 35+
Common Working Pattern
Time Taken To Qualify
What Next/Career Development
Once you have achieved your qualifications, you could develop your career by extending your skills in specialist areas such as making death masks or applying advanced cosmetics. Further opportunities may exist by joining a team that responds to disasters or you could travel abroad to provide embalming services in war zones or disaster areas.
Facts And Figures
52% of embalmers work part-time.*
86% of embalmers are female.*
Some ‘natural’ or woodland burial sites do not accept embalmed bodies.**
*Source: National Careers Service.
**Source: Funeral Helper.