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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.

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

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

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services have fluctuated since 2001, with a low of 2,700 in 2009 and a peaking at 9,600 in 2021. It is projected that employment in the sector will increase slightly to approximately 9,800 by 2025.

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 remain steady to 2025. The biggest projected increase in employment in this sector is for the occupation of General Clerks, at 13%.

Training trends

Training snapshot

After peaking at approximately 170 in 2016, program enrolments in Funeral Services-related qualifications declined steadily through the following years to less than 50 enrolments in 2020. Program completions peaked in 2017 at roughly 50 but have since declined significantly to record no completions in 2020. At the subject level most enrolments occurred in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program, ranging between a low of 89% in 2018 and a peak of 99% in 2020.

All program enrolments during 2020 occurred at the certificate IV level, with Certificate IV in Embalming the most popular qualification (87%), followed by the Certificate IV in Funeral Services (13%). All qualifications had the sole intended occupation of Funeral Worker (nes).

In 2020, the Certificate IV in Embalming was delivered solely by private training providers, while TAFE institutes delivered approximately 67% of the training for the Certificate IV in Funeral Services. The majority (95%) of training was funded through domestic fee for service.

Students enrolled in Funeral Services-related qualifications in 2020 mainly resided in New South Wales (31%), Victoria (29%), Western Australia (21%), or Queensland (13%). The overwhelming majority of the training, however, was delivered in Victoria (83%), with the remainder delivered in Queensland and Western Australia (8% each).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

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 and Invocare Australia identified as the top employer.

The Service Sector Workforce Insights report by the South Australian Training and Skills Commission suggests growth in the Funeral Services industry can be attributed to not only an increasing death rate due to an ageing population, but also an increase in the cultural diversity of burials requiring additional services, skills and land; longer funerals with higher expectations for technology; and increased regulatory requirements. This reported industry growth correlates with the Australian Government Job Outlook and the Skills Priority List: June 2021 which identify moderate to strong future growth for Funeral Workers.

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.

Additionally, an article from the Australian Financial Review revealed the pivot to virtual funeral services during the pandemic allowed funeral services to occur despite COVID restrictions, and included video and audio eulogies constructed into a virtual service and played in a chapel and over a web-streaming platform. One listed service reported their web-streaming platform had grown by over 80 per cent in three months.

According to a report by the ABC, despite advances in refrigeration technologies and an increase in cremation, embalming is still a key part of the funeral services industry. Despite South Australia not having had any students studying in Adelaide for at least seven years, the need will come for more students as current embalmers retire in the future.

Links and resources

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Personal Services IRC

 

Relevant research

Australian Government Job Outlook – Australian Government National Skills Commission

Embalming is vital in the funeral industry, but a lack of skilled practitioners is causing concern - Natarsha Kallios, ABC

Funeral Services Environmental Scan – Retail and Personal Services Training Council

Industry Developments and Workforce Challenges: Funeral Services – Retail and Personal Services Training Council (RAPS)

Service Sector Workforce Insights – Training and Skills Commission (TASC)

Skills Priority List: June 2021 - National Skills Commission

The 10 most innovative government, education and not-for-profit firms - Australian Financial Review

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Funeral Directors Association

Australian Institute of Embalming

The Association of Independent Funeral Professionals

National Funeral Directors Association of Australia

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 952 Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services industry, employment projections to May 2025
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
  • 3622 Gardeners
  • 4513 Funeral Workers
  • 4518 Other Personal Service Workers
  • 5311 General Clerks
  • 8211 Building and Plumbing Labourers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services Industry, 2001 to 2021, 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:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 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:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

 

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 9520 Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services.
  • Employer
    • 451399 Funeral Workers nec
    • 451311 Funeral Director
    • 362211 Gardener (General)
    • 362311 Greenkeeper
    • 899999 Labourers nec
    • 9520 Funeral, Crematorium and Cemetery Services.
Updated: 16 Dec 2021
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