The embalmer intervenes on the body of the dead, at the request of the family, to carry out treatments that give them a presentable look. In France, about one in four deaths involves the intervention of these technicians. But how does one become an embalmer? And what qualities are necessary for this profession?
To be an embalmer, the training consists of a theoretical part which lasts between two and a half and four months, followed by a practical part where the trainee must do a minimum of one hundred conservation treatments. At the end of the practical part, two embalmers mandated by the National Thanatopraxis Committee go to the place of training to evaluate each candidate. Out of 60 trainees, between 30 and 40 pass their exams. The difficulty is that the schools, mostly private and quite expensive, do not guarantee the students’ success since the examination takes place at the end of the theoretical training. They take the risk of failing after having already paid for the training. Once graduated, access to the job market is simple. Indeed, many professionals work for hospitals, medical schools or morgues.
Working alone should not be a problem for an embalmer. In fact, most often they operate alone in a burial chamber or the deceased’s home. Practicing their profession during a difficult time for families, embalmers must demonstrate a great deal of self-control and keep their emotions in check. With eyes staring at death every day of their life, this professional is endowed with important qualities in terms of tact, discretion, patience and motivation. The embalmer must be willing to demonstrate good interpersonal and communication skills to support their clients. Finally, aesthetic, make-up artist and hairdressing qualities are required. This job is extremely important in the process of accepting grief, which makes it an indispensable job for society.