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Funeral Services

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Funeral Services sector, which is one component of the Personal Services industry.

The Funeral Services sector is composed of businesses and workers involved in the operation of burial sites and funeral homes, the preparation, burial, internment or cremation of deceased persons and the organisation of funerals.

In Australia the sector comprises approximately 6,300 workers, is estimated to have generated $1.6 billion in revenue in one year, and has experienced an annual increase in 3.2% over the past five years. Although funeral businesses have been traditionally structured around family operated, private operations, the majority share of the market is now held by one large multi-firm enterprise.

Nationally recognised training for Funeral Services is delivered under the SIF – Funeral Services Training Package.

Information sourced from the Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services have been variable between 2000 and 2017, with a low of 2,700 in 2009 and a peak of 7,500 in 2016. Since 2017, employment levels have increased significantly to around 8,900 in 2019, and it is projected that employment in the sector will continue to rise to around 10,800 by 2024.

The most significant VET-related occupation in Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services is Funeral Workers, which make up close to 52% of the total workforce. Employment for this occupation is predicted to rise by around 10% to 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

After peaking at approximately 170 in 2016, program enrolments in Funeral Services-related qualifications declined through 2017 and 2018. Program completions peaked in 2017 at roughly 50 but declined significantly in 2018 with 8 completions recorded. Subject only-enrolments were also at a high point in 2017, at 180, but have also declined in 2018 with roughly 130 recorded. Program enrolments occurred at the certificate IV level (77%) or the certificate III level (23%), with Certificate IV in Embalming the most popular qualification (66%), followed by Certificate III in Funeral Operations (23%) and Certificate IV in Funeral Services (11%).

In 2018, the Certificate III in Funeral Operations and Certificate IV in Embalming were delivered solely by private training providers, with the funding of subjects through private training providers primarily domestic fee for service (98%). 

More than three quarters of training was delivered in Victoria (79%), followed by Queensland (13%) and Western Australia (8%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies the key priority skills for the Personal Services industry (inclusive of Funeral Service workers), as:

  • Teamwork and communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Self-management
  • Creativity.

According to job vacancy data, the key generic skills in demand in this sector are communication skills and being detail orientated, with Funeral Workers and Funeral Directors the top two occupations in demand.

The Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlights how technology is shaping the sector through new product offerings, including webcasts for funeral services and introducing QR codes on headstones. In addition, a report on the industry by the Retail and Personal Services Training Council (RAPS) suggest the adoption of technology in the industry brings about the need for new skill sets, including the operation of audio-visual equipment, webcasting procedures, advanced customer service skills and service coordination.

The Personal Services IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast noted an increasing trend toward cremation rather than traditional burial, due in part to the lower cost and a wish to be laid to rest in a specific location that may not be near the location of death. It is estimated that two thirds of Australians now choose cremation rather than other, more traditional burial options. A lack of burial space in metropolitan areas is also contributing to this trend.

Another change to the traditional burial service is the result of generational shift; The Personal Services IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast suggests the demand for secular and non-traditional funerals has been growing, particularly among younger generations. In addition, growing multiculturalism in Australia also means a wider range of religious preferences that workers in this sector need to respond to. A larger range of environmentally sustainable burial options is also a factor, with clients in some cases opting for specifically biodegradable coffins rather than the traditional wood. Overall, Funeral Directors need the skills to adapt to each client in order to meet their specific needs.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 952 Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services industry, employment projections to May 2023
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
  • 3622 Gardeners
  • 4513 Funeral Workers
  • 5311 General Clerks
  • 8211 Building and Plumbing Labourers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services Industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit 952 Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Student and Courses from the following training packages or qualifications:

  • SIF Funeral Services Training Package
  • Certificate III in Cemetery and Crematorium Operations
    • SIF30113 - Certificate III in Cemetery and Crematorium Operations
  • Certificate III in Funeral Operations
    • SIF20113 - Certificate II in Funeral Operations
    • SIF30308 - Certificate III in Funeral Operations
    • SIF30313 - Certificate III in Funeral Operations
  • Certificate III in Gravedigging, Grounds and Maintenance
    • SIF30213 - Certificate III in Gravedigging, Grounds and Maintenance
  • Certificate IV in Embalming
    • SIF40208 - Certificate IV in Embalming
    • SIF40213 - Certificate IV in Embalming
    • WFS40202 - Certificate IV in Funeral Services (Embalming)
  • Certificate IV in Funeral Services
    • SIF40108 - Certificate IV in Funeral Services
    • SIF40113 - Certificate IV in Funeral Services.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.  

SIF Funeral Services Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions 
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Personal Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 9520 Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services.
Updated: 02 Apr 2020
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