SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Amongst plenty of job vacancies in a rigid labor market in America, there is one type of work that is garnering the attention of more women. That industry is funeral services.

According to the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), significantly more women than men are enrolling in funeral service programs. The tipping point came in 2000, when women enrollees surpassed men enrolling by 51% to 49%. Today, the number of women entering funeral service programs is more than two-and-a-half times the number of men — 72.1% to 27.9%.

“I think that women have branched out and they figured out that there is a niche for them in this industry,” said Jennifer Waters-Torney, Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer at Baker McCullough Funeral Home and Cremation. “Women are caring, empathetic and sympathetic and we’re good at multitasking and nurturing people and women have the tenderness that’s required to be in this industry and forming those long-lasting relationships.”

The state of Georgia currently has three colleges that offer funeral services programs: Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, Columbus Technical College and Ogeechee Technical College.

The number of new students enrolled at Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service increased from 52 new students in 2021 to 431 new students last year.

On the increase, Torney said, “I kind of think that the funeral industry is more of a trade. It’s not something that is required from a four-year industry. I think there is a large swing across the board, whether it be welding or trucking, mechanics, to go into the trades and I think that it’s a wonderful push.”

National Funeral Director Association President Randy Anderson said, “It’s unfortunate, but understandably the COVID-19 pandemic drew a lot of attention to the funeral service profession and sparked interest for a lot of young professionals to enroll in the past two years. But it’s not just the younger generation, we’re seeing a great deal of individuals joining the profession who decided to make a career change because of COVID and are now getting their certifications to join the funeral service.”

Women currently make up as much as 72% of recent graduates of funeral services education, according to the latest ABFSE numbers. 

On the increase in women Anderson said, “There most certainly is – in fact, more than 70% of those entering funeral service programs are women – that’s more than two-and-a-half times the number of men. There’s a huge need for people in this workforce and women are filling those positions.”

Often they come out of school having been taught general business, industry regulations and laws, embalming and restorative art skills, funeral service applications, funeral home management, grief counseling, etc.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, funeral service workers organize and manage the details of a ceremony honoring a deceased person.

Funeral service workers are employed in funeral homes and crematories. They are often on call; irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, are common. Most work full-time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.