Academic study and practical experience is another option available to individuals wishing to pursue a career in funeral service.
The formal training program consists of two important parts:
- Academic study.
- Practical (work-based) experience.
In the apprenticeship program these occur simultaneously over a given period of time.
Continuous enrollment in the two-year program is a requirement unless granted a medical leave of absence. If the student fails to obtain a leave of absence or maintain continuous enrollment they will be required to apply for a re-admission to the program and reapply for their apprenticeship license.
The academic calendar is divided into two terms and runs from September through to the end of June. Students take Level 1 courses in the first year and Level 2 courses in the second year. Each academic year begins in September with a three (3) day orientation seminar. There is a three (3) day winter term seminar held every January; and a final two weeks of classroom seminars in June. At the completion of this session, students write final examinations for each level in each subject. During each term the student will have access to on-line lectures, quizzes, communication and guided reading.
A Funeral Director and/or Embalmer apprenticeship requires two-years of on-the-job training in addition to the formal academic study. Each year consists of full-time on the job training, usually working with or being supervised by a qualified licensed journeyperson.
On-the-job training provides an opportunity for students to put into practice the theory that they learn in the classroom and lab environments. An apprentice usually spends 80% of his or her time learning on the job and 20% learning the technical skills in a classroom environment.
Practical experience is monitored through an apprentice logbook, mentor and peer and assessor guidelines.
On the Job Paid Training
Individuals in the BC Funeral Association Apprenticeship Program must be employed with a funeral home prior to enrollment in the program. Wages are established by the individual employer and will vary depending on a few factors including the compensation practices and wage structure of the employer, the qualifications of the apprentice, and the type of apprenticeship program. A Funeral Service Apprentice is usually paid a training wage or an apprentice wage.
Apprentices may wish to explore the availability of tuition support with their employer and also review the information on financial assistance available through the Industry Training Authority (ITA) of BC.
Finding an Apprenticeship
You must obtain full time employment at a funeral home as an Apprentice Funeral Director/Embalmer in order to be accepted into the British Columbia Funeral Association Apprenticeship Program or upon completion of the Foundation Program. When you apply for an apprenticeship, first make sure that you are aware of and possess the minimum skills and requirements for the job.