In recent years, two major new trends have been emerging in the funeral industry.
First, women are starting to dominate the field; and second, there are more first generation funeral directors.
The admissions office at Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, IL has been researching these two trends due to changes in the demographics of enrollment. Stephanie Kann, Vice President and Secretary, stated that over 70% of the March 2013 class is female. The innate nature of women as caregivers is one of the primary reasons they enter this field. Stephanie conveyed that women are the orchestrators of the household and this is a perfect transition. Many of these women also come from a line of nurses, and see the funeral industry as a parallel career path as did one student with whom I spoke, Heather. Stephanie gave one final reason for this recent change. Many women state that when they were in their late teens and early twenties they wanted to be funeral directors, but were discouraged by their family and friends. Because of this opposition, they never pursued this career path. As they grew older and more independent, they decided to follow their dreams, no longer feeling pressures of society.
The second major trend we are seeing today is that there are more first generation funeral directors now than ever before. Stephanie offered two reasons for this. The first is that with so many late aged baby boomers retiring with no family members to take over the business. The second is our current economic condition and nearly bottomed out real estate market. “This is the best time to be an owner”, Stephanie told me, and first generation buyers are recognizing this.
The extremely high graduation rate and percentage of students who find jobs out of school makes this a highly desirable field to enter, especially with our current job market. Worsham College of Mortuary Science has an 85% graduation rate, and 85-90% of students are finding jobs directly after graduation. These statistics are higher than any profession and, no doubt, offer students a sense of security in their careers.