Memphis Death Cleanup: Directors and Death Care in Memphis, TN

Note: to celebrate the grand opening of our Memphis office, we’re featuring a weekly post that covers topics of concern to the Memphis, TN area. This week, we examine the funeral industry, and look at the rules and regulations affecting new directors in the state of Tennessee.

There are necessary jobs considered by most to be undesirable, not only because of the difficult nature of the work, but because of a perceived “gross out” factor. Being a funeral director, rather like being a crime scene cleanup technician, is one job few envy. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national mean annual salary for funeral directors was $61,460 in 2011. Some Directors earn close to over $100,000 a year.

But money isn’t the central reason most people choose to become Directors. There are other professions that do not require as many long hours, as much dedication, or the emotional energy needed to work in the death care industry. Further, like all states, Tennessee also has specific qualifications which must be met before one can be licensed as a director.

What Does It Take To Be A Director?

First, you must be a high school (or equivalent) graduate over the age of 18, and have all your immunizations as well as training on communicable disease transmission. Also mandated is the successful completion of an Associates Degree in Funeral Service Education, which consists of not less than 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours (or equivalent) from an accredited institution. Accreditation of Funeral Service programs are handled by the American Board of Funeral Service Education, and an official transcript will be necessary for licensing. John A. Gupton College in Nashville, TN is one Tennessee school with a program in this subject.

Additionally, candidates must complete 2 years of apprenticeship under the supervision of a licensed funeral director. After these steps are complete, the applicant can apply to take the Funeral Director Examination and State Law, Rules and Regulations Examination. Passing this exam means the Director is able to begin building their business.

But there is one final qualification which seems open-ended, yet remains critical to the role of a death care provider.

The Most important Qualification

The Tennessee Board also requires that a Director be “of good character,” which means that their personal records are clear of serious legal issues. However, it might be also suggested that a Director’s job demands sincere compassion for the families they serve. Much like other “second responders,” death care workers juggle numerous responsibilities, including acting as an invaluable resource to families, referring customers to reputable contacts in specialized fields such as grief counseling, financial assistance programs, and biohazard cleanup.

For more information on the funeral business and regulations in the state of Tennessee, check out the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers webpage.

If you’re a Director and are looking to share information on biohazard cleaning with your clients, please call and speak directly with our Partner Program Director, Bryan Reifsteck, at 630-256-8587.