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home : obituaries : ask the funeral director
June 17, 2019


5/9/2012 5:02:00 PM
On Becoming a Funeral Director

Pat Fahrenkrug
Community outreach director/funeral director


The other day I was talking with some high school students and the question I have heard many times throughout my career came up: What kind of education does it take to become a funeral director? The education takes about three years to complete and here are the details:
Before you do anything you have to complete one year of education at a college or university, attaining a sophomore standing status. Next you have to satisfactorily complete nine months or more of a prescribed course in mortuary science. You also have to complete one year of apprenticeship under the direction of a licensed funeral director. Then you have to take and pass the state board examination for Funeral Director. You can choose to do your apprenticeship before you go to mortuary school (which I recommend) or you can do the apprenticeship after you attend mortuary school.
I started working at a funeral home as soon as I graduated from high school. At that time I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a funeral director, but my dad told me to get a job or he was taking me down to the army recruiter's office. I started out at the funeral home cutting grass, washing cars, and helping with various funeral duties, which included my favorite duty...driving the hearse!
I found I really enjoyed the funeral work and decided to start my education to become a funeral director. After getting my required one-year of education I decided to do my apprenticeship first.
That way I would know if I really wanted to be a funeral director. People may be surprised to know that we do have a mortuary school in the state of Wisconsin. It is located at the Milwaukee Area Technical College West Allis Campus.
At the time I went to mortuary school it was a two-year associate degree program. So, I packed up and moved to Milwaukee for two years. While in mortuary school I also worked at a funeral home, as did most of my classmates. At times, the days (and nights) were challenging. After going to school for most of the day I would go to the funeral home and work, sometimes not getting home until after 9 or 10. I was also "on call" for the funeral home three or four times a week and would get called out at all hours of the night. As challenging as it was, I wouldn't change a thing. Those long days and nights prepared me for what was to be a very rewarding career in funeral service. I met some lifelong friends, created a lot of memories and had a lot of fun.
A career in funeral service is a "calling", much like it is for a Pastor or Priest. That trip to the recruiter's office that I didn't take, took me on a journey that I never expected to go on. I have met some of the most wonderful people at some of the most difficult times in their lives. Knowing that I helped them through these times gives me a great amount of satisfaction. If you are interested in becoming a funeral director I encourage you to give us a call or stop in and ask any questions you would like. While it is not a career for everyone, it certainly is one in which you can get a real sense of purpose and satisfaction.












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