Salt Lake Community College is home to the only mortuary science program in Utah.
Nationally accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education, SLCC teaches its students about embalming and funeral planning. The students who want to pursue this field have the ability to gain real-world experience in all areas of the industry.
“Mortuary Science is where we teach students how to work at a funeral home or mortuary. They are trained to be licensed funeral directors and embalmers,” says program director David S. Hess.
New technology for an age-old practice
In some cases, families allow students to practice their skills on a loved one before their body is cremated. Last year, the college acquired an artificial cadaver, a brand new tool that allows students to practice the embalming procedures beforehand.
“Embalming is the preservation of the body to allow time for viewing of the family, viewing ceremony, or whichever ceremony they would like,” Hess says. “It’s where they inject preservative chemicals, which is usually formaldehyde based, into the vascular system. That preservative preserves the tissue and as the embalming fluid is going into the body it pushes the blood out.”
Serving with sympathy
In the funeral planning room, students learn what it takes to be a funeral director. Some of the activities include mock funeral arrangements, casket display, mortuary management, burial vaults, merchandising and pricing.
While knowing the business is important for any funeral director, talking to the family is an essential part of the job. The mortuary science program provides a variety of classes to help students learn about grief and mourning and how it affects loved ones.
Due to this extensive training, students are able to leave the program fully prepared to work with people of all cultures.
“These students have a desire to serve others, help others who are at a critical time in their life,” Hess says.
SLCC students who want to pursue a mortuary science degree must complete basic general education courses before being accepted into the program. Students are then required to complete four straight full-time semesters in the program before graduating, with a minimum of 10 embalmings done in correlation with the coursework.
After graduation, students are required to take a National Board exam, where the completion rate is approximately 80 percent. Since 2013, all but one student in the program has gained employment six months after graduation.
The SLCC mortuary science program admits new students every spring semester. Contact academic advisor Danielle Mills for more information.