Getting Started

Funeral Directors, Embalmers & Burial Services
How to Become a Funeral Director / Embalmer

Before becoming a Funeral Director and / or Embalmer you must:

  1. Make application to the State Board and meet the following qualifications:
    • Be 18 years of age or older
    • Be of good moral character
    • Be properly protected against communicable diseases
    • Have a high-school diploma or equivalent (GED) thereof
    • Funeral Director - successfully complete a program of study in Funeral Service Education consisting of not less than thirty (30) semester hours from a school accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education and evidenced by an official transcript.
    • Embalmer - the candidate must obtain an Associate of Arts Degree by successfully completing a mortuary science program consisting of not less than sixty (60) semester hours with a program accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education and evidenced by an official transcript.
  2. Complete an apprenticeship under a licensed Tennessee funeral director and/or embalmer depending on what type of license you are pursuing.
  3. Your apprenticeship may be completed in one of two ways:
    • Two (2) year apprentice for funeral directors
    • One (1) year apprentice with mortuary school for funeral directors and / or embalmers. Note: If you attend mortuary school, you must register with the Board as a student to obtain credit.
  4. Quarterly reports must be submitted for each quarter of your apprenticeship. Rule 0660-04-.02 requires that an apprentice shall submit a quarterly report of apprenticeship training on a form prescribed by the Board. Such report must be received no later than sixty (60) days following the last day of the quarter for which credit is sought.  
  5. Upon completion of apprenticeship, submit a "Completion of Apprenticeship" form (provided by the Board) that has been prepared by the licensed Tennessee funeral director / embalmer that you apprenticed under.
  6. Depending on the type of license you desire, complete the appropriate application form and submit along with the required application fees.
  7. When we receive your completed application, approval for testing will be sent to the testing center. Afterwards, you should contact the testing agency for scheduling to take the State Board Examination(s), Art and / or Science, and the Tennessee Laws, Rules and Regulations Examination (whichever exam is applicable).
    Some individuals may have taken the National Board. If so, have an official transcript sent to us by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards. If one has successfully passed the National Board Examinations, it is not necessary to take the state funeral director or embalmer examinations.
  8. We must have all required attachments that are requested on the application prior to approving you to take the applicable exam.
  9. The State Board Examinations, both Arts and Science, and the Tennessee Laws, Rules and Regulations Examination are given Monday through Saturday as scheduled by appointment with the testing agency. It is the responsibility of the applicant to schedule the date, time, and location of the examination(s) directly with the testing agency. 
  10. After you take the examination(s), the testing center will notify our office of your score(s). Those individuals receiving a passing grade will be notified by mail to appear, if necessary, before the Board.
  11. The Board normally meets the second Tuesday of each month. When requested to appear before the Board, you will be interviewed and the Board will decide whether to approve the requested license(s). If approved, you will be directed to the cashier's office to pay the appropriate licensing fee(s).

See Tenn. Code Ann. 62-5-306; 62-5-307; 62-5-308

Applying for a Funeral Establishment License

Each person desiring to obtain an establishment license shall submit to the Board a completed establishment application and a non-refundable application fee of $575.00. The application must show the name of the establishment, the owner's name (Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.) and who the manager will be. The establishment must have a fixed place of business devoted to the care and preparation of dead human bodies. The manager is required to be a licensed funeral director that is in charge of each such place of business. The application must contain a list of names and addresses for all employees designating whether they are licensed as a funeral director and/or embalmer or unlicensed assistant and designating whether they are full-time or part-time employees.

If the establishment is a corporation or limited liability company, a copy of the charter and a list of the officers/partners designating their title must be submitted to the Board.

The Board must receive a letter of approval from the local zoning authority which shall include at minimum the following information: 1) the specific activity for which the location is approved, such as "funeral home", "crematory", etc. and 2) parking space availability required for the location, or a statement indicating that the zoning authority has no requirements with respect to parking. Additionally, the Board must have a letter from the appropriate authority indicating that the proposed establishment is properly connected to sewer services or in the case of a location without available sewer service, a letter from the proper authority indicating that the septic system is in proper working order and approved for the intended use.

When all of the above documents have been submitted, a field representative from the Board will conduct an on-site inspection. At the time of the inspection a copy of the firm's general price list, casket price list, outer burial price list and statement of funeral goods and services selected must be available.

How to Start a Cemetery Company

Any person or persons wishing to start a cemetery company which is to be operated as a for-profit corporation must first apply for and obtain from the Tennessee Secretary of State a charter or certificate of authority.

A written trust agreement must be completed and approved by the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Every cemetery registered with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance that is engaged in selling of lots, grave spaces, crypts, niches, and burial rights must maintain an improvement care trust fund.

Registration information is available through the Burial Services Section of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.