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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 there were over 850 Funeral, Crematoria and Cemetery businesses in operation in 2017–18. There were 1,700 people employed in this sector as of May 2017, projected to grow to 1,900 by 2022.

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

Information sourced from the Personal Services IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast (forthcoming).

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Personal Services IRC

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services have been variable since 2000, ranging between around 2,700 and around 7,500. There was a peak of around 7,500 in 2016 with employment since falling to around 6,600 in 2018. It is projected that employment in the sector will rise to around 6,800 by 2023.

The most significant VET-related occupation in Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services is Funeral Workers, which make up over 51% of the total workforce. Employment for this occupation is predicted to rise by around 7% to 2023.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in this sector rose between 2014 and 2016 to 171 and fell to 98 in 2017. Program completions have risen slowly since 2014, with a high of 47 in 2017. Subject only-enrolments were also at a high point in 2017, at 182. Qualifications are delivered at the certificate III level (59) or the certificate IV level (38), with Certificate III in Gravedigging, Grounds and Maintenance the most popular qualification in the Training Package (44 enrolments in 2017).

The most popular training provider type is largely dependent on the individual qualification being delivered, with the Certificate III in Gravedigging, Grounds and Maintenance being provided entirely by TAFE institutions and the Certificate IV in Embalming provided entirely by private training providers. The Certificate III in Funeral Operations was overwhelmingly delivered by private training providers also (93%). The funding of subjects in this sector are mostly domestic fee-for service for (65%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

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 2018 Skills Forecast identifies the key priority skills for Funeral Workers are:

  • service orientation
  • active listening
  • social perceptiveness
  • speaking
  • monitoring.

The key skills in this sector according to job vacancy data are:

  • communication skills
  • detail-oriented
  • writing
  • verbal/oral communication
  • problem solving.

The above 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; demand for secular and non-traditional funerals has been growing, particularly among younger generations. 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.

Both the 2018 Skills Forecast and the Environmental scan 2015 by Service Skills Australia mention the importance of environmentally sustainable practices in this sector. This demand is growing over time, and covers not only the method of burial preparations, but the manner of internment including pre-burial chemical decomposition. This is accompanied by demand for increased technological integration to the funeral and burial process, such as the live webcasting of a funeral for those unable to attend in person.

The 2015 environmental scan by the Retail and Personal Services Training Council noted an overall decline in death rates as being a key factor in the future of the Funeral Services sector. Changing health attitudes, awareness and technology are largely responsible for this reducing, however the ageing nature of the population indicates an upcoming increase in the death rate as the large number of ‘baby boomers’ reaches the end-of-life stage.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Funeral Directors Association

Australian Institute of Embalming

Independent Funeral Directors Association of Australia

National Funeral Directors Association of Australia

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association

 

Relevant research

Environmental scan 2015 – Service Skills Australia

Funeral Services environmental scan – Retail and Personal Services Training Council

 

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:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 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 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Personal Services IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast (forthcoming).

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
  • 9520 Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services.
Updated: 13 Sep 2019
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