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How to become a mortician trainee in the UK

Updated February 22, 2019

Dealing with death on a daily basis requires compassion, professionalism, responsibility, self-motivation and other personal qualities. In the UK, the title mortician can apply to a funeral director, an embalmer and a technician working in a hospital mortuary. Jobs in the funeral industry usually don't require qualifications, and trainees complete courses while working. In the NHS, morticians are called anatomical pathology technicians, and a minimum standard of education is required to apply.

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Funeral Director

  1. Apply to the National Association of Funeral Directors to complete their Funeral Service Awareness Online Training course. This is designed for people who aren't yet working in the industry and includes information on arranging a funeral, roles within the service and the impact of loss and grief.

  2. Apply to local funeral businesses for an entry level position, such as a funeral services operative. In this role you will clean and maintain funeral vehicles, prepare coffins, drive vehicles on the day of the funeral and help carry the coffin.

  3. Complete a National Certificate in Funeral Arranging and Administration, after six months' service in the funeral industry. Your employer must give permission for you to apply. You should also receive training on the job. Other qualifications include the National Diploma in Funeral Directing, which covers UK legislation, specialist services and the role of the funeral director. Qualified and experienced personnel can apply for more senior positions within their company or with another company, or start their own business.


  1. Apply for a position as a trainee embalmer at a funeral parlour. No qualifications are necessary but GCSEs in biology, chemistry, maths and English at grades A to C are useful when applying for jobs and later training courses.

  2. Apply for courses with a tutor approved by the British Institute of Embalmers, such as a foundation course covering anatomy, physiology and practical embalming skills. Part time and distance learning courses are available.

  3. Ask for a recommendation from your course tutor or employer when applying for positions as an qualified embalmer. Recommendations are required to gain employment.

Anatomical Pathology Technician

  1. Apply at an NHS hospital for a position as a trainee anatomical pathology technician. You need a minimum of five GCSEs at grades A to C including maths, English and a science subject, preferably biology.

  2. Complete a Qualification in Anatomical Pathology Technology, awarded by the Royal Society of Public Health, while working as a trainee. The course covers legislation and codes of practice, health and safety, and post mortem room techniques, among other subjects.

  3. Apply for positions as an anatomical pathology technologist at your hospital or elsewhere. Jobs outside the NHS are also available.

  4. Tip

    NHS jobs are also advertised on the NHS jobs website.


    Making the deceased presentable for viewing by loved ones is only one part of the embalmer's duties, and to qualify you must train in all areas.

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About the Author

A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.

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