Requirements for Funeral Directors and Embalmers

A funeral bureau is a business that provides services to the public after the death of a loved one. These businesses must follow strict rules and regulations to prevent the spread of disease.

The cemetery and funeral bureau licenses funeral establishments, funeral directors, embalmers, and apprentice embalmers; investigates complaints against them; and regulates approximately 200 cemeteries in California. It also advocates consumer protection and licensee compliance through proactive education and consistent interpretation and application of the laws governing this industry.


The funeral bureau is a business that provides services for the dead, including embalming and preparing bodies for burial or cremation. It also sells caskets and other funeral supplies. It is important for any funeral director to have a license. In addition, funeral directors must have a high level of professionalism and be well-organized. They must handle a large amount of paperwork.

Funeral homes must be licensed and regulated by the state board of embalmers to ensure they meet minimum requirements. These include a clean and sanitary place for preparation, a storage room for the body, and a morgue for incineration. A person may not engage in any activities involving a dead human body unless they are licensed and registered as a funeral director or undertaker.

The Funeral and Cemetery Bureau licenses funeral establishments and their officers and directors; funeral directors; embalmers and apprentice embalmers; and crematories, hydrolysis facilities, and cremation services. The bureau advocates consumer protection and licensee compliance through proactive education and consistent interpretation and application of the laws governing the death care industry.

Licensing requirements

There are several requirements that must be met before you can become a licensed funeral director or embalmer. First, you must pass the state and national examinations. The state examination covers California laws and regulations, while the national exam focuses on national funeral service standards. After passing the exams, you must complete a year-long apprenticeship under a licensed funeral director.

You must also obtain a funeral establishment license before you can open your business. This license must be renewed annually. In addition, you must have a manager who is a mortuary science licensee and lives within an hour’s drive of the funeral home. If you change managers or your business name, you must file a change of manager/name application with the department.

Additionally, you must meet the continuing education requirements for funeral directors and embalmers. These courses must emphasize ethics, standards of practice, preneed contracts and funding, and federal or state laws and regulations governing the profession.

Continuing education requirements

Funeral Directors and Embalmers must meet continuing education (CE) requirements in order to renew their license. These requirements vary by state. Some states require that CE courses cover ethical issues, standards of practice, preneed contracts and funding. Other requirements include topics such as business management and technical or practical aspects of the profession.

NFDA is committed to providing the best continuing education options in funeral service. We offer a wide variety of educational events and online courses to help you fulfill your CE requirement. All NFDA courses and events are accredited by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice and NFDA provides online PDF certificates of completion after each event for licensed funeral directors to print. You can also access your certificates from NFDA’s online certificate portal.

NFDA courses are approved for CE credit by many state/province licensing boards. However, it is important to note that NFDA does not control whether each state/province licensing board approves the number of CE credits requested or in what format the course is delivered (e.g., live seminar, audio conference, podcast, web seminar).

Requirements for apprentice embalmers

Depending on where you live, the requirements for apprenticeship embalmers at funeral bureaus vary. In most states, you must first complete a formal education program and then serve an apprenticeship. Once you have completed the requirements, you can apply for a license.

To qualify for an apprenticeship, you must be at least 18 or 21 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. You should also enroll in a mortuary science program that includes classes such as anatomy, embalming and restorative techniques, and funeral service management.

During your apprenticeship, you must work with a licensed embalmer or funeral director. You must also file quarterly progress reports with the examining board. Failure to submit these reports may result in a suspension of your apprenticeship credit time. In addition, you must have a current background check on file with the examining board. This is important because many embalmers work with people who are grieving, which can be a stressful and emotional experience.

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