Salt Lake Community College is offering a new AAS degree in mortuary science.
The need for this new degree is driven by the industry. There is no other school that offers this degree in the surrounding states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Students wanting a degree in mortuary science have typically had to go to school in California, Arizona or Colorado. No other school offers this program in Utah.
Mortuary Science is a Health Sciences degree. The new program doesn’t start until January, so students wanting to take mortuary science are in the process of taking pre-requisite classes. The classes these students need to take depend on which discipline they are studying. They need to take such courses as communication and psychology.
“Students will not only need technical skills such as embalming, but will also need communication and psychology skills,” Sherrie Loewen, division chair for Allied Health said.
At this time the school is in the process of hiring a program administrator. This person will develop the curriculum for the program and get it ready for college approval. Time is needed to accomplish this and to do other things such as preparing the embalming lab.
SLCC had to acquire a funeral home license to meet requirements set forth by the state. The students will be embalming bodies and sending them back for family held funeral services.
“The embalming lab will be will be sharing space with health science cadaver lab,” Ken Freeman, a health science professor said.
At this time there are over forty students enrolled in the Intro to Mortuary Science class. The technical classes for mortuary science will be held at the Jordan Campus, which is on 9000 South and Bangerter Highway.
Being held at this campus, the lab classes will begin in Summer Semester 2012. Embalming is a lab class for example. Classes will cover more than just the science of the profession, though.
“Students will also have to take classes that study grief counseling, because as a mortuary director the student will have to be out in front with the family,” Loewen said.
As a mortuary director the student will be a licensed embalmer and because most mortuaries are small, family-owned businesses students will have to know accounting and general business practices.
Students following this career path must have graduated from an accredited AAS progam in mortuary science. This allows them to take the licensing exam. They also have to undertake a internship, as required by DOPEL, the licensing division. They must have 2000 hours of internship and 50 hours of embalming.
After they meet these requirements their education is finished. Students can move on and further their education to a bachelors degree or masters. Most major in either business or psychology for these degrees.
Students have to take two different tests for their license; they have to take a national board exam and a local state exam. These vary depending on the state the student will reside and work in. During the last semester the student will be able to review for the national exam. A student has to find out from the state they wish to reside in what the requirements are they have to meet for that state.