The Mortuary Science program has been available at Salt Lake Community College for two years, but only received certification in 2013 from the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).
The school had to have the program already in operation before being certified. However, this does make SLCC the only school in the state to give certified training.
Students receive hands-on training in the field and learn everything from selling funeral arrangements to embalming, ensuring that graduating students are ready to compete in the work environment.
David Hess, Program Director for Mortuary Science and full-time faculty member, as well as Interim Associate Dean of Allied Health, explains that students have to understand anatomy, pathology, microbiology, chemistry and embalming.
“Then we have our social sciences like funeral directing psychology and communications and then we have our business aspect of it in which they have to take funeral home management, mortuary law, business law and accounting,” said Hess.
The SLCC Jordan Campus also has a licensed funeral home, ensuring that the experience is as close to the real deal as possible without creating competition with the surrounding funeral homes.
Students will have access to industry equipment as well as working on actual cadavers provided by licensed mortuaries with proper permission. Students also have to take the national board exam when they graduate in order to be able to enter the workforce as an apprentice or intern.
For most of the students in the program, death and funerals have been an influential part of their life.
“Most of the students that come into the program have been influenced in some way with death, either death of a loved one or a close friend, in which they become exposed to what we do,” said Hess.
Hess was brought into the program to help direct it as well as to help develop the curriculum. He has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for over 20 years, with experience in the day-to-day work of a funeral home.
“Things to look at as far as job opportunities are that in a couple years we have the baby boomers that will start turning 70, as the baby boomer generation gets older the death rate is going to increase, with the rise in the death rate funeral homes are going to be busier and they’re going to be looking for good licensed employees.”
Mortuary Science is a two year Associate of Arts program with 68 credits for completion.