A useful guide to mortician apprenticeships in the UK
Updated 31 August 2023
Mortician apprenticeships are practical training programmes that enable you to learn skills and gain qualifications while working. For many, practical training is a preferable approach to classroom study. Learning about securing an apprenticeship with a mortician allows you to consider this rewarding career path. In this article, we explain what a mortician apprenticeship entails and the benefits of pursuing one, outline where to find apprenticeship opportunities and list key skills that the role of a mortician apprenticeship typically requires.
Please note that none of the companies, organisations or institutions mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Mortician apprenticeship in the UK
There are a variety of pathways available to secure a mortician apprenticeship in the UK. A mortician is a broad term referring to a professional who works with cadavers, typically in preparation for a funeral. Completing an apprenticeship is a practical option if you want to pursue this career path. A mortician apprenticeship involves paid employment and study as you work towards obtaining a formal qualification. Relevant apprenticeship schemes you may consider include:
This role focuses on managing a mortuary and monitoring and preparing the deceased's body. This may include preparing a body for embalming or post-mortem examination. Technicians also carry out any culture-specific preparations of the body the family requests. They prepare and maintain the mortuary and complete the necessary cleaning tasks.
Embalmers work to physically treat a body in preparation for a funeral. This includes disinfecting bodies to prevent infection or deterioration. Embalmers also remove fluids and gas from a body and replace them with preserving agents. They may perform cosmetic work on a body, such as washing and arranging the hair, applying make-up or using wax or similar agents to restore the appearance of bodies that suffered an injury.
A funeral director manages the funeral arrangements, including the administrative duties, planning and day-to-day upkeep of the funeral home. They liaise with families to organise the specifics of a funeral service, such as selecting a casket and coordinating the logistics for the funeral, including the transportation of the body and the deceased's family. In smaller funeral parlours, a funeral director may also be responsible for maintaining the mortuary and embalming.
Where to find mortician apprenticeships
Your first step is to find an apprenticeship provider. The government website provides access to apprenticeship resources, including a list of apprenticeship providers for different schemes. Consider contacting local funeral directors or morticians to enquire if they would be willing to take you on as an apprentice or look for education providers, such as colleges, that may have details of apprenticeship programmes you can apply for.
An alternative to the traditional apprenticeship route is to get work-based training through an entry-level job. Research available positions or send your CV to potential employers to seek opportunities. Entry-level positions don't usually require formal qualifications, but good GCSE results may improve your chances of getting a job. Once you secure a position, you can ask your employer if they would support and sponsor you to complete a formal qualification, such as:
National Diploma in Funeral Directing
National Certificate in Funeral Arranging and Administration
Diploma in Healthcare Science (Anatomical Pathology Technology)
Benefits of pursuing a mortician apprenticeship
The following is a list of benefits that a mortician apprenticeship can offer to help you decide whether it's the right path for you:
Earning while you learn
This is the aspect of an apprenticeship that many find most appealing. Your early career development can be challenging, particularly if you commit to a period of study or unpaid training. Apprenticeships solve this issue. You study towards obtaining formal mortician qualifications while working and earning a wage. As an apprentice, you're an employee of your apprenticeship provider. This means you're eligible for employee benefits, such as an annual paid holiday allowance and subject to the same employee regulations as your colleagues regarding matters including working hours and health and safety.
A practical approach
Some people find it easier to learn new skills by doing them rather than through study. The structure of an apprenticeship means there is a greater focus on practical workplace activities than classroom study. By learning and gaining practical mortician experience as you work, you may find the apprenticeship training route more effective and rewarding.
If you're looking for an apprenticeship in a field as unique as mortuary work, you may already have a clear career path plan. If you aspire to be a mortician, the focused, dynamic and practical approach of an apprenticeship may provide a degree of security, as you can be confident you're developing skills specific to your intended career. There's also the security of entering the workforce while still undertaking training.
Key skills for a successful mortician apprentice
An apprenticeship helps you develop the technical competencies required for a career as a mortician. It also provides a practical environment to develop your soft skills. Possessing relevant foundational skills can increase your chances of securing an apprenticeship opportunity and help you perform effectively in your role as you complete your training. Such key skills include:
Commitment and motivation
The nature of an apprenticeship means employers invest time, energy and resources in the apprentices they take on. They typically look for individuals who they feel confident can complete the apprenticeship and add value to the organisation during their time there and, potentially, beyond. Demonstrating commitment and motivation to the apprenticeship and enthusiasm for pursuing a career as a mortician may make you a highly desirable prospect to employers.
Morticians encounter people at a particularly emotional and traumatic time in their lives. Being able to empathetically engage with others helps you effectively handle such challenging interactions. The recently bereaved may rely on you as they navigate the challenges of arranging a funeral. Showing empathy and offering comfort can foster trust and help ensure your service meets their needs.
Passion and enthusiasm
A career as a mortician can be very rewarding, but it may not suit everyone. Some may find the working environment uncomfortable, as it involves interacting with grieving people and cadavers along with facing emotional challenges. Having a genuine passion and enthusiasm for your work and the tasks it involves can help you manage these challenges effectively, and if the positive impact you potentially have on others is what attracts you to the profession, you can get the most out of your apprenticeship and career.
Good work ethic
Apprenticeships combine working with study as you gain formal qualifications. Support is available, but your education and practical training are primarily self-directed. A good work ethic enables you to maintain your studies and work to a suitably high standard. Your employer is providing you with access to training qualifications and sponsoring your development, and demonstrating a strong work ethic can show them you value the opportunity.
One of the most attractive aspects of an apprenticeship is developing your practical abilities alongside skilled professionals. Actively seeking opportunities to learn new skills and develop your knowledge can help ensure you succeed in the role. Proactivity enables you to make the most of the development opportunity with the supervision and support of experienced morticians and maximise your professional growth throughout your apprenticeship.
Where might an apprenticeship lead?
Apprenticeships can provide a pathway to full-time employment. The organisation where you completed your apprenticeship opportunity may offer you a job, as they invested time and energy in your professional development and training. Employing you at the end of the scheme is a good way for them to get a return on their investment.
An apprenticeship can also offer new employment opportunities. When you complete an apprenticeship, you obtain a formal, industry-recognised qualification. This can make your CV more competitive and may qualify you to apply for higher-level jobs rather than entry-level roles. These could be with funeral directors or within the health service, for example. Mortician-related roles in clinical settings may have different job titles, such as anatomical pathology technician.
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