Job Description:

Embalmers preserve and prepare bodies for burial or cremation.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

As an embalmer you could:

  • look after bodies with care and respect
  • wash and disinfect bodies and restore the
  • appearance of bodies after injury
  • remove fluids and gases from the body and replace them with preservatives
  • wash and style hair and apply make up
  • work with funeral arrangers to make sure the family’s wishes are met
  • keep the mortuary clean and complete paperwork


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • a desire to help people
  • the ability to use your initiative (ambition/drive)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an embalmer typically involves a combination of education, training, and licensing, rather than specific subjects. However, certain subjects can provide a foundation for skills and knowledge that may be helpful if you plan to pursue a career as an embalmer. Here are some subjects that can be beneficial:

  1. Biology: A strong understanding of biology is essential for understanding the human body’s anatomy, physiology, and the biological processes involved in embalming.
  2. Chemistry: Chemistry provides knowledge about chemical reactions, compounds, and preservation techniques, which are relevant to embalming processes.
  3. English Language: Effective communication skills, including writing and speaking, are important in the field of embalming when dealing with grieving families and colleagues.
  4. Art: Art courses can help you develop fine motor skills, attention to detail, and an appreciation for aesthetics, all of which are valuable in the embalming process.
  5. Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills can be useful for measurements, calculations, and record-keeping related to embalming procedures.
  6. Physical Education (PE): Physical fitness is important for the physical demands of the embalming profession.

Embalmers play a crucial role in the funeral service industry, providing dignified care to the deceased and support to grieving families. Therefore, in addition to the technical skills and education, it’s important to possess qualities such as empathy, compassion, professionalism, and a strong work ethic.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by a professional body

You could do the Mortuary Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship.

If you’re already working in the funeral industry, you could train to become an embalmer with support from your employer.

You might find it useful to have work experience in a funeral service, mortuary or funeral home when applying for trainee roles.

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you could work 41 to 43 hours a week, and could work weekends at short notice.

You could work in a laboratory, at a funeral home or at a research facility.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and you’ll travel often.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience you could:

  • become self employed and work independently with several funeral directors
  • do further training to specialise in HIV or tuberculosis or join a team responding to disasters
  • become a funeral director