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Career profile Embalmer

Also known as Apprentice Embalmer, Assistant Manager/Embalmer, Associate Embalmer/Funeral Director, Chief Embalmer, Embalmer, Embalmer/Funeral Director, Funeral Director/Embalmer, Funeral Service Licensee, Licensed Embalmer


Also known as Apprentice Embalmer, Assistant Manager/Embalmer, Associate Embalmer/Funeral Director

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$27,930 - $75,190 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
Core tasks
  • Conform to laws of health and sanitation and ensure that legal requirements concerning embalming are met.
  • Apply cosmetics to impart lifelike appearance to the deceased.
  • Join lips, using needles and thread or wire.
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What does an Embalmer do?

Embalmers prepare bodies for interment in conformity with legal requirements.

What kind of tasks does an Embalmer perform regularly?

Embalmers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Conform to laws of health and sanitation and ensure that legal requirements concerning embalming are met.
  • Apply cosmetics to impart lifelike appearance to the deceased.
  • Join lips, using needles and thread or wire.
  • Close incisions, using needles and sutures.
  • Incise stomach and abdominal walls and probe internal organs, using trocar, to withdraw blood and waste matter from organs.
  • Clean and disinfect areas in which bodies are prepared and embalmed.
  • Dress bodies and place them in caskets.
  • Make incisions in arms or thighs and drain blood from circulatory system and replace it with embalming fluid, using pump.
  • Remove the deceased from place of death and transport to funeral home.
  • Perform the duties of funeral directors, including coordinating funeral activities.
  • Attach trocar to pump-tube, start pump, and repeat probing to force embalming fluid into organs.
  • Reshape or reconstruct disfigured or maimed bodies when necessary, using dermasurgery techniques and materials such as clay, cotton, plaster of Paris, and wax.
  • Pack body orifices with cotton saturated with embalming fluid to prevent escape of gases or waste matter.
  • Conduct interviews to arrange for the preparation of obituary notices, to assist with the selection of caskets or urns, and to determine the location and time of burials or cremations.
  • Insert convex celluloid or cotton between eyeballs and eyelids to prevent slipping and sinking of eyelids.
  • Assist with placing caskets in hearses and organize cemetery processions.
  • Maintain records, such as itemized lists of clothing or valuables delivered with body and names of persons embalmed.
  • Wash and dry bodies, using germicidal soap and towels or hot air dryers.
  • Arrange for transporting the deceased to another state for interment.
  • Perform special procedures necessary for remains that are to be transported to other states or overseas, or where death was caused by infectious disease.
  • Supervise funeral attendants and other funeral home staff.
  • Serve as pallbearers, attend visiting rooms, and provide other assistance to the bereaved.
  • Direct casket and floral display placement and arrange guest seating.
  • Arrange funeral home equipment and perform general maintenance.

The above responsibilities are specific to Embalmers. More generally, Embalmers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

What is an Embalmer salary?

The median salary for an Embalmer is $47,630, and the average salary is $50,220. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Embalmer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Embalmers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Embalmers earn less than $27,930 per year, 25% earn less than $37,490, 75% earn less than $59,460, and 90% earn less than $75,190.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Embalmers is expected to change by 0.0%, and there should be roughly 700 open positions for Embalmers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$27,930 - $75,190
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Embalmers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Embalmer are usually higher in their Realistic, Conventional, and Investigative interests.

Embalmers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Embalmers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Lastly, Embalmers typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Embalmer tend to value Support, Independence, and Relationships.

Most importantly, Embalmers strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Embalmers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Embalmers strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Embalmers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, integrity, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Embalmers, ranked by importance:

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

What education and training do Embalmers need?

Embalmers often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Embalmers usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Embalmers

  • 6.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 25.3% completed high school or secondary school
  • 26.8% completed some college coursework
  • 16.8% earned a Associate's degree
  • 19.7% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 3.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.4% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Embalmers

Embalmers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, chemistry, or psychology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Embalmers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

Important Abilities needed by Embalmers

Embalmers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Embalmers need abilities such as near vision, oral comprehension, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Embalmers, ranked by their relative importance.

Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

Critical Skills needed by Embalmers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Embalmers frequently use skills like speaking, active listening, and writing to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Embalmers, ranked by their relative importance.

Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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