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Embalmer Career Guide

This role requires someone who is sensitive and respectful towards the deceased. Find out more about this role here.

Safeera Sarjoo
14th April 2016
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What is an embalmer?

Embalmers are responsible for preserving and preparing human bodies to temporarily stall decomposition from the time of death to the time they are buried or cremated. They work to keep the deceased suitable for public display at funerals, for religious reasons or for scientific purposes. This particular role requires an individual who is comfortable working alone and takes a very dignified approach to their work. Historically, embalming has had a place in many cultures, with great religious meaning.

What are their responsibilities?

As an embalmer you will be working with the deceased. You will be expected to wash and disinfect the bodies of the deceased to ward off infection and deterioration. Embalmers remove fluids and gases from the body and replace them with preservatives.

Some other responsibilities relating to this career includes:

  • Wash and style the hair of the deceased
  • Use restorative processes and make up to create a natural appearance
  • Work closely with funeral directors to meet the families’ wishes
  • Keep the mortuary clean, fully stocked and meet all health and safety regulations
  • Complete paperwork required by law
  • In small facilities the embalmer may also be the funeral director

What are some of the characteristics that suit this role?

To become an embalmer you will need to be prepared to deal with unusual sights and smells as well as follow strict health and safety guidelines. It is important that you are sensitive to other people’s feelings and show empathy for the grief and stress families of the deceased may be experiencing. Embalmer also take a dignified approach to your work. This will involve you having:

  • Steady hands for delicate work
  • An understanding and respect for different religious and cultural beliefs
  • An ability to handle surgical instruments and tools.
  • Close attention to detail
  • An interest in anatomy, science and chemistry

Entry requirements and Training

Trainee vacancies are quite limited; however it is beneficial to gain related experience working in a funeral service or a mortuary.

It is important that you have the proper education and training, which is why new embalmers complete training courses provided by tutors that are accredited by the British Institute of Embalmers.

Embalmer courses are made up of both theory and practical examinations. In order to complete the rest of the course it is imperative that students pass the foundation module. It is possible to work towards an embalming course on a part-time or distant learning basis.

 A good general standard of education is also helpful to get into an embalming course. To get on to these courses obtaining GCSEs (A-C) or similar qualifications in English, maths, chemistry and biology will stand you in good stead.

Once your training has been accredited with the British Institute of Embalmers, you will be able to apply for BIE membership.

Most of the knowledge you would need to apply in an embalmer role will be taught on your course, however you can develop your skills by taking other courses in areas like facial restoration and airbrush cosmetics.


A career in embalming is unlike anything the majority are use to. At Training and Courses we offer practical ways to start your journey to becoming an embalmer, with relevant science courses and funeral training courses. 

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