What qualifications do funeral directors need?
‘Being a funeral director normally attracts 2 types of people – those who’ve had personal experience because a family member works in the business, or those who are fascinated by the role. A lot of ex-service men and women and police officers become funeral directors, so I think there is an element of wanting to serve your community.
‘Even though I had on-the-job training thanks to my dad, I wanted to be qualified. I was also very conscious about working from the bottom up, so people could see I was serious. I studied for – and passed – my Level 2 and 3 NVQ in Funeral Service and Operations, (see box above for more information) but you can do courses in other areas of the profession.
‘The difference between a funeral arranger and a funeral director is that an arranger is more office-based, and mainly works with families to plan the funeral, whereas a director will also go out on the day to direct the funeral – that’s what most people know us for, all dressed in black with the top hat. Some funeral directors just direct the funeral but some do everything from start to finish, like me. I like building up a rapport with the family and taking them under my wing.’
Where can a career as a funeral director take you?
‘Working for a brand like Co-op means you can go on to become a regional manager, then a divisional manager and so on. Or you could set up your own funeral home. I feel very lucky that I work for Co-op, but our funeral home has also been in the family for decades. I love being part of my community, being seen by everyone as the village undertaker.
‘Being a funeral director is a huge responsibility. We’re invited into people’s homes and families, and I find that massively rewarding. For me, it’s not a job, it’s a vocation.’
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• For advice and bereavement support, read our expert guides