Embalmers: Salary Overview
Embalmers prepare the remains of a deceased’s body for the funeral and assist the family during this difficult period of their lives.
They typically are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and most of them are always on call.
Embalmers have a very important role in the funeral home and need a very special set of qualifications before being allowed to enter this profession.
They typically need an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree from one of the 60 mortuary science schools that are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education.
All states require embalmers to be licensed and although exact requirements may vary, they typically include being at least 21 years of age, having at least an associate’s degree in the field, completing at least one year of training under the supervision of a licensed funeral director, and passing a licensing exam.
After earning the state license, embalmers may either find employment or start their own funeral home.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2018, 13% of all morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors were self-employed while 85% of them worked for a business that provides death care services.
Licensed embalmers are also required to complete continuing education classes in order to keep their license.
They prepare bodies for burials and cremations by using specific techniques which may include removing blood and replacing it with embalming fluid, performing reconstruction work, and applying makeup to the body.
Embalmers work with bodily fluids and in order to avoid being exposed to potentially infectious diseases, they need to follow very strict safety and sanitation rules.
They are also exposed to potentially traumatic situations which means that they must be able to handle stress and need a high level of stamina.
Embalmer Salary by Level of Experience
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, embalmers held about 3,890 jobs in May 2019, all of them being employed in the death care services industry.
The numbers published by BLS show that the mean annual wage for embalmers was $50,100 in May 2019.
The median annual wage was $47,760, which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this while half earned more.
Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors and entry-level embalmers may earn less than $26,000 a year while experienced workers may make more than $76,000.
After earning 2-3 years of experience in the field your salary can increase towards the 25% percentile, which is $36,090 as of May 2019.
The 75% percentile is equal to $60,760, which means that most employed embalmers make less than this but the most experienced 25% percent make more than this amount.
Experience pays off in this career but candidates who have good technical and interpersonal skills are also valued and you can compensate for your lack of experience by being a skilled, hardworking employee.
This profession is emotionally rewarding because you get to help grieving families during a very sensitive period in their lives but it can also be financially rewarding, especially if you’re a skilled professional who has several years of experience in the field.
Job prospects for funeral service workers are also expected to be good in the next decade.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for funeral service workers is projected to grow 4 percent.
Job prospects are expected to be especially good for embalmers who are also licensed as funeral directors and for those who are willing to relocate to underserved areas.
Over the past years, there have been important technical advances in this field and highly skilled embalmers who know how to use new technologies and embalming methods should have an advantage over the other candidates.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Embalmers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.