A number of factors can affect a funeral director's salary. These include training and experience as well as scope of work and the geographic area in which he or she works. In addition, ownership or partnership in the firm can alter earning potential, as can the competition within the local market.
The level of required training and certification for funeral directors is generally set by a local governing authority. This often dictates what functions the funeral director can and will complete. For example, in some geographies, an individual can only be certified as a funeral director if he or she also certifies as a mortician. This means that he or she is not only capable of working with the family and of organizing and running the funeral services but also of preparing the body for burial.
This can dramatically increase a funeral director's salary because it increases his or her value to the company. Even if the local authority does not require a dual certification, a funeral director can increase earning potential by gaining additional skills. Besides mortuary science, such skills might include cosmetic application and business management.
As with most professions, a funeral director's salary is partially dependent on the going rate in his or her geographic market. In general, a funeral director in a large city makes more than a director in a small town. This is primarily due to the relative cost of living. In addition, a director in an area with stringent certification qualifications may well make more than a director who lives in an area in which obtaining a license is easier simply because fewer people are likely to be qualified.
Many funeral homes are privately owned and are either individual businesses or part of small, independent chains. A funeral director in this type of facility likely has a different earning capacity than one at a large chain. In addition, the funeral director at an independent home is quite likely to own an interest in the business. In this case, the funeral director's salary will be affected by profit and loss considerations.
Local market competition can affect a funeral director's salary regardless of whether he or she works for an independent funeral home or a chain. Customers who have many options are often more cost-conscious than those who have few choices. This means that a funeral home in a competitive market may have to offer its services at a lower rate, which will likely result in a lower salary for the funeral director.