LITTLETON, Colo. — It's estimated that in the next five years, more than 60% of funeral home owners across the country will retire and leave the industry. The good news: there are more students than ever across the country studying to step into their roles.
Faith Haug is teaching the next generation of funeral service workers at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado.
“We're called last responders,” said Haug. “A lot of people have taken on that, that title, especially after COVID, because of all the attention, you know, put on the first responders deservedly. But also, we're an easy profession to forget about until you need us, and, you know, all of the things that came up with COVID really brought attention to what we do and made people consider it as a career field.”
Haug said she is excited to see more students enrolling in her mortuary science classes.
“2020, we saw a big jump in enrollment,” she said.
Nationwide, the American Board of Funeral Services found enrollment for mortuary science degree programs jumped by 24% in 2021. It’s a job that will always be needed, and now, the demand is higher than ever.
“My mother said when I told her I was getting into the program, there are two things people always need: haircuts and funerals,” said student Kyle Dunn, who hopes to own his own funeral home someday.
For Dunn, it’s about connecting with families in a time of need.
“We're the people that have to be there to help other people. You know, we can be emotional and be stressed and feel pain about it later,” said Dunn. “I just hope people realize how much time and effort people in the funeral industry put into this work because they really give it their all.”
The passion these students have can translate into lifelong careers. Other mortuary schools across the country report job placement of 90%.
The process of getting the degree is shorter and less expensive than a traditional four-year college degree program. Salaries aren’t often above six figures, but depending on what position and what city, some jobs in the funeral service industry can pay $65,000-$75,000 within the first few years after graduating.
Dean of the School of Health and Public Services, Darius Navran, said his mortuary science graduates have no trouble finding a job.
“Our job placement is 100%. Every graduate who leaves Arapahoe Community College is already employed or has a job offer,” said Navran.
Haug hopes communities across the country are grateful for the eager next generation of last responders. They’re the generation all of us will someday need.
“They are truly engaged, they care, and they're willing to do the work,” said Haug.
If you’d like to find out more information about the Arapahoe Community College Mortuary Science Degree Program, click HERE.