Mortuary assistants work in morgues, hospitals and funeral homes and assist morticians and pathologists with their work. Tasks performed by mortuary assistants include preparing the deceased for a funeral, moving the body from the hospital to the funeral home, or preparing paperwork. Another name for mortuary assistant is mortuary technician. Mortuary assistants work at funeral homes, crematoriums, city and county morgues, and hospital morgues under the direction of licensed funeral directors or pathologists.
Mortuary assistants should have at minimum a high school diploma or GED. However, employers require at least a two-year associates degree in Mortuary Science.
If you plan to become a Funeral Director or Mortician, you will need a four-year degree in Mortuary Science. There are approximately 58 institutions in the United States offering Mortuary Science degrees, and many of these institutions also offer the requisite two-year degree for Mortuary Assistants. Many of these schools are community colleges, which offer very affordable programs and flexible hours so you can attend school while working.
Mortuary science degrees are not typically available through distance learning programs, but students can complete certification requirements in some states such as South Carolina through distance learning programs.
What Do Mortuary Assistants Do?
Mortuary assistants perform a variety of tasks, depending on where they are employed. In a hospital, city or county morgue, they may assist the pathologist during an autopsy, handing him instruments, preparing and sealing samples, and recording details. Mortuary assistants are usually the ones moving bodies from storage units to autopsy tables, and transferring bodies from the morgue to the funeral home. At funeral homes, mortuary assistants may perform light housekeeping duties as well as assist the funeral director during embalming and preparation of the body.
Mortuary assistants must be honest, reliable, dependable, and comfortable working with the deceased. Mortuary assistants who work at a city or hospital morgue may have a more scientific job. They may assist the pathologist, and must be familiar with medical terminology. It’s a given that they have to be comfortable working with the deceased, and be comfortable in a medical or scientific environment.
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