A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Morgue Attendant in 4 Easy Steps (With Skills)

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Morgue Attendant in 4 Easy Steps (With Skills). There are a variety of careers in the funeral service industry that allow you to honor the deceased and help their …

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Morgue Attendant in 4 Easy Steps (With Skills)

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Morgue Attendant in 4 Easy Steps (With Skills). There are a variety of careers in the funeral service industry that allow you to honor the deceased and help their families. Some jobs, such as funeral directors, focus more on customer service responsibilities, while others, such as medical examiners, focus on science. Working as a morgue attendant may allow you to combine both focuses into one role. In this article, we define what a morgue attendant is and does, outline how to become one, list some important skills for these professionals to have and discuss the career outlook, salary and work environment of a morgue attendant.


What is a morgue attendant?

A morgue attendant assists with the postmortem examination process. These professionals, which some may also refer to as mortuary assistants or mortuary technicians, assist morticians and pathologists with autopsies and preparing bodies for funerals and burials. Depending on their career paths, morgue attendants may perform some tests or prepare specimens collected during these practices.

What does a morgue attendant do?

Exact responsibilities for morgue attendants may vary, especially depending on where they work. Some common duties for a morgue attendant may include:

  • Assist funeral directors with embalming

  • Assist pathologists with performing autopsies

  • Complete toxicology reports

  • Confirm identification details about the deceased

  • Ensure the funeral home is clean

  • Handle various tools and specimens during autopsies and embalming

  • Maintain morgue room, supplies and equipment

  • Meet with next of kin

  • Operate X-ray machines to capture images

  • Prepare paperwork for morticians or pathologists

  • Prepare and seal samples during autopsies

  • Prepare the deceased for funerals

  • Record a pathologist’s findings during an autopsy

  • Replace linens and other materials as needed

  • Set out surgical instruments and laboratory supplies for examinations

  • Sew postmortem incisions

  • Sharpen tools and knives

  • Transport the deceased from hospitals to funeral homes

  • Wash instruments, storage trays and tables

How to become a morgue attendant

Here are the steps to follow for how to become a morgue attendant:

1. Finish your education

Becoming a morgue attendant requires a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED. It’s important to focus on subjects like health, math and science. Many employers may seek candidates who have an associate degree in mortuary science or a similar field. While not a requirement, it may be beneficial to consider earning a bachelor’s degree. This may be helpful if you want to advance your career to have other positions, such as becoming a funeral director or a mortician. Focus your studies in an area like mortuary science, forensics, biology or nursing.

2. Gain relevant experience

Pursue opportunities to gain relevant experience in the field. Research internship opportunities while completing your studies, and consider getting a part-time job. Look for jobs with coroner’s offices, funeral homes and morgues. This may help you gain experience with medical or health topics and feel more comfortable working with the sensitive requirements of working with death.

3. Pursue certification

Some states require pursuing certifications for working in morgues or with morticians. It’s important to research the particular requirements in your state. Most employers also require you to have a valid driver’s license, and some may request that you have a commercial driver’s license.

4. Consider advancement opportunities

As you continue in your career, consider pursuing advancement opportunities. There may be senior positions available that allow you to oversee operations and supervise staff. Opportunities available may depend on your qualifications and your chosen career area. Some examples of advancement opportunities may include:

  • Cardiology supervisor

  • Clinic manager

  • Funeral director

  • Hospice supervisor

  • Mortician

  • Operating room supervisor

Morgue attendant skills

Some important skills for a morgue attendant to develop are:

  • Attention to detail: Working as a morgue attendant involves handling specimens and updating records. It’s essential for these professionals to have good attention to detail to avoid mistakes and follow specifications when preparing the deceased.

  • Communication skills: Morgue attendants often speak with the deceased’s next of kin, so it’s important they have good communication skills. These skills also support them in communicating effectively with their colleagues during autopsies and other procedures.

  • Computer skills: It’s beneficial for morgue attendants to have good computer skills. This may help them with completing data entry responsibilities and ensuring they maintain accurate records.

  • Mental capacity: Working as a morgue attendant requires a specific mindset. It’s crucial these professionals are comfortable working around death, especially in all manners and in people of all ages.

  • Physical fitness: It’s important for morgue attendants to be able to stand for long periods of time and lift heavy objects. This enables them to move bodies for storage and transport.

  • Sensitivity: Morgue attendants handle delicate situations and support people experiencing grief. It’s essential they’re sensitive to the feelings of others and commit themselves to maintain the dignity of the deceased.

  • Science: It’s useful for morgue attendants to have good science skills, especially if they work in morgues directly rather than at funeral homes. Science skills may help them with tasks such as collecting, preparing and testing specimens.

Morgue attendant career outlook

While there isn’t career outlook information specifically about morgue attendants available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career outlook information for funeral service workers in general. It includes professionals like morticians, undertakers and funeral arrangers in this job category. The BLS predicts employment of funeral service workers may increase 4% from 2020 to 2030. While this is slower than the average for all occupations, the BLS expects opportunities to become available as people exit the field to retire or pursue other opportunities.

Average salary for a morgue attendant

There isn’t specific salary information for morgue attendants available. However, there are salaries available for similar occupations. For example, the national average salary for an autopsy technician is $37,708 per year. Similarly, the national average salary for a funeral service assistant is $44,841 per year.

It’s important to remember that exact salaries may vary. One of the most important factors that may affect how much you earn is your employer, as this may affect the nature and requirements of your job. Other factors that may affect your salary include geographic location, qualifications and experience.

Morgue attendant work environment

Morgue attendants may work in a variety of settings. It’s important they’re comfortable working in cold settings and handling dangerous chemicals. They often work closely with other mortuary professionals, funeral works, physicians and law enforcement officials. Some common workplaces for morgue attendants include:

  • Crematoriums

  • Funeral homes

  • Hospitals

  • Morgues

Morgue attendants may work any time of day and any day of the week. They typically have established schedules, though. They may need to work overnight or on weekends or holidays. Many employers require morgue attendants to be available on call, but on-call responsibilities may rotate through different employees.