Employment Panorama: Funeral Attendant


ABOVE: Funeral director/attendant work is surprisingly broad, requiring high level people skills as well as catering and cleaning skills. PHOTO PIXABAY 

By Warren Heggarty

We scanned job advertisements for the funeral industry to find out what employers are looking for:

If ever there was a job that required emotional maturity, Funeral worker is it. It can be demanding and stressful, but also rewarding work. You need to be good with people, but you are also required to work with the bodies of the deceased. There are no formal qualifications, though there are Australian Apprenticeship traineeship packages available . On the other hand, there is a very low turnover of staff, so people who enter this line of work tend to stick with it. 

Many positions in this industry advertise ‘no experience necessary/training provided.’ Some advertisements say something like ‘you will learn all aspects of the funeral industry, including arranging funerals with families, conducting and attending services… no funeral experience necessary.’ One advertisement for a funeral arranger/admin person listed only one essential requirement- a drivers’ licence, though it pointed out that being able to speak Greek would help. 

Another firm insisted that applicants’ covering letters be handwritten. It would seem that this is a way of gauging how careful the person is about details (like dotting i-s and crossing t-s) about neatness and about overall presentation.  

Funeral duties include mortuary preparation, attending and conducting funerals, escorting mourners to and from chapels, and transferring the deceased. 

This latter duty can involve on-call after hours work. Because of this requirement, a lot of firms prefer people who live within a certain distance of the office. It means that you help collect the body from the morgue, hospital or the place of death and assist with preparing the body and placing it in the coffin. 

In smaller, more isolated funeral businesses, you often need to be an all-rounder and some firms want someone who can handle car detailing, grounds and building maintenance, grave plaque placements, coffin preparation, catering to functions, and cleaning. 

Essential requirements that employers are looking for.

Able to give excellent customer service

Demonstrate care, dignity and respect.

Demonstrate compassion, empathy and sensitivity to the needs of grieving people

Able to work as part of a team

Demonstrate enthusiasm and reliability

Know basic administrative work (eg  Microsoft Office, filing)

Display attention to detail

Be flexibility and adaptable

Be well presented and honest

Be fit and healthy (coffin bearing will be required)

Have a drivers’ licence 

Some other desirable qualities include 

Have your own vehicle

Speak a particular community language

Be a Justice of the Peace or eligible to become one

Specialist jobs in the funeral industry

Embalmers prepare and preserve the deceased person from the time of death until they can be buried or cremated. This requires qualifications. 

Civil Funeral Celebrant is the ‘master of ceremonies’ who conducts the funeral ceremony. 

More information: 

Australian Funeral Directors Association 

1300 888 188 



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