I came across this article from Scoop of New Zealand entitled, “Collaboration to benefit funeral services industry“. The details of the article go on to tell how different educational institutes in New Zealand are collaborating to develop programs of study for the funeral services industry.
For instance, Open Polytechnic “will develop the educational resources, deliver the course and once approved (by the authorities), award the qualifications”. Auckland Institute of Studies will “connect the delivery of the programs with faciilites that are reuired for learners’ skill-based training and development”. In essence, to me that sounds like “online” followed by “practical hands on”.
Funeral service in America has vast and fragmented types of requirements by differing states on what is needed to be a practicing funeral director and/or embalmer in those states. And, some people will tell you that the education requirement minimum does not seem to matter in relation to the care that client families receive. Others will argue that point.
From my point of view, as the COVID-19 pandemic has pointed out, there has to be some minimum knowledge that funeral service professionals need to have to provide safe services to all involved. I don’t think we can just allow people to just state, “I’m going to be a funeral director.”
However, what is needed for a minimum professional level position is highly debatable. I would argue that the proper answer fits on the continuum somewhere between nothing and a full fledged bachelors degree. . . but what is the proper knowledge?
It’s pretty obvious that the more education, the better off a person is. However, education in today’s America can be expensive for in-class, hands-on learning. Can we be like New Zealand and offer a hybrid? And, maybe there is more than one option. . . maybe an option for those that do embalming and handle the deceased and another degree or certificate for those who only want to work with families in planning and producing funerals and memorial services.
So, I don’t know what the right answer is. However, our profession needs good young people coming into it and many cannot afford what a 4-year degree would cost. Would some type of online minimum course work solve the shortage with an additional “hands-on” type of education for those that want the embalmers license work?
It is my opinion that state license boards, the National Funeral Director’s Association, and the mortuary schools of higher education need to look at what the best practices should be. Now is that time.