Earning a Living in Death

by M-Gillies

Urns can come in all materials, shapes and sizes today as more people are choosing to be cremated. An urn maker can earn upwards of $59,000 per year.

It’s a typical conversation starter for most people to inquire as to what one does for a living. Sometimes we’re fascinated by the work other people do, sometimes we want to compare our jobs to that of someone else – sometimes though, we learn about jobs that just seem so unconventional and bizarre that we’re at a loss for words. Nevertheless, death is an industry in its own right and while it can be an unpleasant job for the vast majority of us to understand, it’s a job that someone has to handle.

Below are the sixteen jobs dealing with death:

1. Crime Scene Cleanup

What they do: A crime scene cleaner specializes in sanitizing and cleaning up biohazards at crime scenes. These can range from removing methamphetamine labs to cleaning up violent death scenes.

How much do they earn: $39,000.

2. Funeral Director

What they do: Funeral directors, much like wedding planners, manage all aspects of funeral arrangements, which include overseeing the details of body preparation for viewing, ensuring all paper work for the decease is obtained and filed and working with families to ensure a proper service is arranged.

How much do they earn: $35,145 – $60,084.

3. Embalmer

What they do: An embalmer is the person who treats the corpse with disinfectants, antiseptics and preservative fluid prior to the viewing and service of a funeral.

How much do they earn: $30,785, $47,921.

4. Crematorium Technician

What they do: A crematorium technician ensures all cremation equipment is operating safely, they will then receive coffins and carry out identification checks, meet with mourners, follow proper legislation and regulations and operate cremation equipment as well as ensuring that all records are kept.

How much do they earn: $21,000.

5. Coroner

What they do: Coroners are government officials who investigate and determine the cause of human deaths while issuing death certificates, maintaining death records, identifying unknown dead and responding to deaths in mass disasters.

How much do they earn: $34,976 – $70,816.

6. Forensic Pathologist

What they do: A Forensic Pathologist is a medical doctor who performs autopsies and postmortem examinations to determine the cause of death with autopsies containing opinions of what the manner of death is and the circumstances surrounding the cause of death.

How much do they earn: $72,636 – $161,051

7. Forensic Anthropologist

What they do: Unlike a Forensic Pathologist who investigates crimes by autopsies and postmortem examinations, Forensic Anthropologists are individuals who assist criminal investigations by analyzing human remains, such as bones. Along with work inside labs, Forensic Anthropologists also play a role in court hearings, where they are often called upon to provide expert testimony to establish their findings for the official record.

How much do they earn: $39,110 – $78,311.

8. Death Midwife

What they do: Death Midwifery is a relatively old movement undergoing a recent resurgence. Acting much like a combination of Hospice Nurse and Funeral Director, a Death Midwife is a person who supports a family through a death process upon the declaration of a terminal illness, and further carries out the task of preparing the dead, arranging the wake and organizing burial arrangements.

How much do they earn: $55,600 – $87,100.

9. Funeral/Life Celebrant

What they do: Whether working alongside a funeral home or independently, a Celebrant is a facilitator, trained and certified to help individuals plan and present personalized memorial, celebration of life, and funeral services. Similar to midwives and funeral directors, Celebrants will organize and arrange a funeral ceremony geared toward a more secular type of service.

How much they earn: $21,600 – $71,600

10. Hospice Nurse

What they do: A Hospice Nurse is a Registered Nurse who works independently with a patient during their last moments, providing compassionate and empathetic care while performing traditional nursing duties such as observing, assessing and recording symptoms, and working closely with physicians, administer medication and provide emotional support.

How much do they earn: $32,268 – $55,854.

11. Obituary Writer

What they do: An Obituary Writer will often write summaries of the lives of the deceased for publication in newspapers and online media, and while this is generally done by funeral directors, it has often been a main staple in many newspapers, particularly the New York Times, which publishes the obituaries of global personalities.

How much do they earn: $48,000.

12. Coffin Maker

What they do: While much of the work of a coffin is done on an assembly line, concentrated among a few companies. Coffins are generally manufactured by machines though some companies will make hand-made caskets, however, unlike the mid nineteenth century, the art of hand-made coffins has grown to become an obsolete trade with cremation and urns becoming more popular.

How much do they earn: $22,203.

13. Urn Manufacturer

What they do: With cremation urns becoming more popular during an era of direct-disposition, it also means more lavish products should be made available in which to store the cremated remains. Because of this, cremation urns are designed by specialist craftspeople and artists to develop multiple types of cremation urns that can be suitable for display in anyone’s home. Urns today are made of wood, metal, ceramic, stone, bio-degradable materials such as fibre and even salt.

How much do they earn: $59,000

14. Cemetery Worker

What they do: Similar to a landscaper, a Cemetery Worker is an individual who prepares graves, locates grave sites according to section, lot, and plot numbers, and marks areas to be excavated. This also requires them to maintain cemetery grounds, from mowing the grass, pruning shrubs, trimming trees, and planting flowers and shrubs on graves.

How much do they earn: $53,000.

15. Archaeologist

What they do: Archaeologists study human activity, from history to culture, but to do this, these professionals rely on recovering and analyzing artifacts, biofacts, architecture and cultural landscapes. To provide further assistance in their studies, archaeologists will survey and excavate land, sometimes uncovering human remains for scientific study and analysis.

How much they earn: $35,768 – $56,276.

16. Post Mortem Photographer

What they do: Back in they 1800s, there was an increasing movement – with photography the newest of innovations, people quickly took to what has become known as mourning photography, the act of photographing mourners and the dead, and often both posed together in a portrait of momento mori. As time went on, this art of capturing life and death soon faded away as photography was regulated more to capturing moments of happiness. However, in recent times there has been a growing resurgence with post mortem photography and including photographers to capture the events of a funeral ceremony. In some situations, a funeral service may be webcasted or recorded to create a momento mori DVD.

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