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- Help bereaved families by preparing and protecting bodies between death and burial/cremation
- You'll need to be sensitive, dignified and have an understanding of different beliefs and cultures
- You'll also need to be emotionally prepared to work with dead bodies on a day to day basis
Embalmers prepare bodies for the period between death and burial or cremation.
- Wash and disinfect bodies to prevent deterioration and infection
- Remove fluids and gases from the body and replace them with injected preservatives
- Wash and arrange hair and apply cosmetics
- Use plaster of Paris or wax to restore the appearance of bodies after injury
During busy periods, you may need to cover weekends. You may need to work an on-call emergency rota and you may travel to different funeral services locally and nationally.
You could work in a laboratory, at a funeral home or at a research facility. The mortuary setting is a clinical environment and you'll spend most of the day on your feet. When embalming, you'll wear protective clothing like rubber boots, gloves and a theatre gown.
This role requires sensitivity to other people's feelings, a responsible and dignified approach to work, self-motivation with the ability to work alone, a strong stomach for dealing with unusual sights and smells, and an understanding and respect for different religious and cultural beliefs.
You'll usually need to complete a training course approved by the British Institute of Embalmers. Courses can be studied in the classroom or by distance learning and last between 2 and 3 years. Practical sessions will take place in an embalming theatre.
There are no set entry qualifications but GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths, chemistry or biology may be helpful.
You could do training with your employer's help if you're already working in the funeral industry.
Work experience in a funeral service, mortuary or funeral home could help you to find a trainee position.
It may be helpful to join the British Institute of Embalmers for professional development and to make industry contacts.
With experience, you could become self-employed and work independently with several funeral directors. You could go on to take further training and specialise in HIV or tuberculosis work, or join a team responding to disasters. You could also become a funeral director.