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10 jobs dealing with death

By Candace Corner
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( -- While work that involves caring for the deceased is historically perceived as a morbid commission by society's standards, it is really a matter of perspective. If there weren't dedicated people tending to the aftermath of natural and unnatural disasters, and respectfully arranging our postmortem needs, the world would be a mess.

When loved ones pass away, grieving families are left with an onslaught of decisions to make in addition to dealing with their loss. In times like those, having a compassionate, professional funeral director is important to make sure things are handled correctly. When crime scenes are discovered, there is a need for sympathetic people to take over and clean things up so the family can begin their steps to recovery.

In addition to the satisfaction of a job that makes a difference, professionals working with the deceased have additional perks. Postmortem professions involve a variety of people with different ranges of education and certification. It is an industry where the risk of going out of business is suppressed by the continuance of human mortality rates.

According to the most recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy rates have increased, following a long term upward trend. Healthcare advancements and improvements in nutrition and sanitation contributed to the rise, but as the larger population continues to age, there will be an increased need for dedicated and sympathetic workers.

Here are some jobs that contribute to easing the grieving process:

1. Crime scene cleanupexternal link What they do: Assist in sanitizing and cleaning up biohazards at crime scenes. What it pays: Salaries start around $35,000 and move up with experience. In bigger markets with high violent death rates and uncovered methamphetamine labs, salaries can increase to $75,000 or $80,000.*

2. Funeral directorexternal link What they do: Manage all aspects of the funeral arrangements, such as overseeing the details of the body preparation for viewing. In some cases, morticians also perform the duties of an embalmer. What it pays: The median annual salary is $45,960.

3. Embalmerexternal link What they do: Treat corpses with disinfectants, antiseptics and preservative fluids. What it pays: The median annual salary is $36,000.

4. Crematorium technician What they do: Incinerate bodies and collect the ashes. What it pays: The median annual salary is $35,000.

5. Coronerexternal link What they do: Coroners are elected public officials who observe corpses and determine the cause of death. They often have a background in pathology. What it pays: The median annual salary is $30,798.

6.Forensic pathologistexternal link What they do: Forensic pathologists are physicians who have specialized medical and forensic science training to determine the cause of sudden or unnatural deaths. They are involved in crime investigations and testify as expert witnesses in court. What it pays: The median annual salary is $150,000.

7. Obituary writerexternal link What they do: Write summaries of the lives of the deceased for publications. What it pays: The median annual salary is $42,150.

8. Urn manufacturerexternal link What they do: Manufacture and distribute urns. What it pays: According to the Cremation Association of North America, the market for traditional funerals with traditional caskets has declined, creating an increase in market share for urn manufacturers.

9. Funeral attendantexternal link What they do: Assist funeral directors with the casket arrangements and direct and control traffic for funeral processions. What it pays: The median annual salary is $33,000.

10. Cemetery workerexternal link What they do: Assist with landscaping and upkeep for grave and memorial sites and dig graves. What it pays: According to the International Cemetery and Funeral Association, the rate of pay is determined by whether the individual is working for a distinguished cemetery and whether the location is non-profit.

*Salary information from The Bureau of Labor Statistics,, International Cemetery and Funeral Association, Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America,, and the National Center for Health Statistics.

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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