In general, an individual who wishes to become a funeral director must complete a course of collegiate-level study in funeral service. This consists of at least 60 semester credits, or 90 quarter credits in an institution approved by the New York State Department of Health or by a recognized accrediting agency.
There's a mandated course of study in two areas: mortuary arts and sciences which covers such subjects as embalming, restorative art, anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, pathology, and personal and public health biology practices; funeral service education which addresses funeral service orientation, funeral counseling, funeral directing, funeral home management, funeral home accounting and business and mortuary law. In addition, the particular institution will also require certain electives to be completed as part of the course of study.
Following their two years of mortuary science studies, aspiring funeral directors must serve a one year residency in a funeral home before becoming fully licensed professionals. After completing these academic requirements, a license is necessary before one can operate as a funeral director. To obtain such a license, an applicant must pass a funeral directing examination prepared or approved by the New York State Department of Health to determine knowledge and fitness. The individual must also submit satisfactory evidence of good moral character to the Health Department.
In addition to the funeral directing examination and residency, the applicant must also pass an examination on New York State laws, rules and regulations relating to funeral directing before a license can be issued. New York State schools which offer approved funeral service courses of study are located in New York City, Canton, Troy and Garden City. A State Law proposed by the New York State Funeral Directors Association and approved in 2002, ensures that funeral directors operating in New York State complete 12 hours of continuing education (CE) instruction every two years. The law provides for specific hours of instruction, course content, provider qualifications and penalties for non-compliance. Up to 50% of the continuing education requirements may be met by using technology-based media such as the Internet, teleconferencing and satellite seminars. All costs associated with implementing and administering the new program will be borne by the state's funeral directors through their licensing and registration fees.
The NYSFDA believes that the continuing education program benefits the general public by helping funeral directors maintain a high level of knowledge. Continuing Education enables funeral directors to stay on top of the most recent health and safety procedures and ever-changing technologies needed to face ongoing and new health threats including West Nile virus, encephalitis, E. coli outbreaks, and wide-spread pandemics.
Funeral directors are also better positioned to remain current with the many State and federal health, safety and price disclosure regulations governing the profession.