There are few sources of information for people interested in working in the funeral profession in Australia. We provide a glimpse of the expectations you should have if you want to work in this important profession and for Nelson Bros.
- Working in the funeral profession
- Working for Nelson Bros
- Working in Australia
- Current Employment Opportunities
For individuals considering employment in the funeral profession, there are a number of important issues you should consider. These apply across the industry, so regardless of which organisation you would like to work for, you should take notice of them. They include:
- Physical work
- Dealing with deceased persons
- Types of roles
- Learning & training
- Mature workers
- Earning potential
- Funeral companies are different
We work in a 24-hour-a-day, 365 days-a-year industry. At all times, funeral staff are on call, at Christmas, at Easter, on birthdays. We cannot predict when people die and must be ready and available at all times. Families expect this is a minimum.
Anyone wishing to work in the funeral service profession needs to be of good physical health.
Whether the role entails driving, lifting, general maintenance and cleaning, most funeral work is of a physical nature.
Successful funeral service workers are flexible and dynamic, prepared to assist with whatever is required for the client.
If an overtly physical role is not what you are seeking, the funeral profession may not be for you.
Dealing with deceased persons
Anyone working in the funeral profession will be exposed to deceased persons on a daily basis. Whilst trained embalmers and mortuary staff work in more detail with hygienic preparation, most staff will see and handle deceased persons in the course of their employment.
Of course many people have never done this before entering the funeral profession and do not know how they will deal with this aspect of the industry. However it is something that is an integral part of what we do.
Driving is a major part of the funeral profession. You will require a current Victorian driver's licence.
Many companies do not have insurance for drivers under a certain age (sometimes up to 25) and therefore will not employ younger people in certain roles.
In addition to driving, funeral staff are also responsible for the general maintenance and cleaning of the car. Following every service, vehicles must be washed and cleaned by those who have driven them.
Types of roles
Generally, the type of work is very manual. It has often been described as "blue collar work wearing white collars". Lifting of deceased persons, of coffins and caskets, and of other materials for funerals is a daily part of most positions.
Driving vehicles, including transfer ambulances, hearses and mourning coaches is another major task.
Funeral conductors lead teams of Funeral Assistants on the day of the funeral at a variety of locations.
Funeral arrangers are the people responsible for making all funeral arrangements with the deceased's family. Successful arrangers communicate clearly such matters as financial and contractual duties, descriptions of funeral products and services, and assist families through the funeral process.
There are some very specialist roles such as embalmers. These are trained professionals who specialise in working in the mortuary, embalming and hygienic preparation of deceased persons.
Depending upon the size of the organisation, other roles which all businesses require such as accounting, human resources and marketing also exist in the funeral industry. In smaller organisations, managers usually perform multiple roles.
Whilst previous industry experience may be beneficial in gaining a role, it is not necessary. Increasingly, funeral companies are looking outside the industry to fill positions.
Skills gained from other professions can be readily applied to funeral service. Equally, new employees from outside the funeral profession may come with new ideas and skills that could benefit funeral companies.
Those without previous funeral industry experience however must acknowledge that the learning curve is steep and that it can take months or even years to attain the level required in different roles. Patience and dedication to learning this new profession are required.
Learning & training
The best and most common way of learning within the funeral profession is doing so from the ground up. It involves actually doing the tasks required for the position under supervision of an experienced funeral director.
Individuals who come straight into senior roles must also follow this type of learning and training to be able to fully perform their senior role.
Funeral companies also provide structured training for their own staff. This differs significantly by funeral company. In addition, training courses within Victoria are offered by Mortuary & Funeral Educators, and also the AFDA (Australian Funeral Directors Association).
Attractive to mature workers
In an era of change and technology, many mature workers have difficulty entering certain industries. The funeral profession is one which is attractive to many mature people and is often a great way to commence a second career or to have roles in which they can work until the end of their working lives.
Equally, young people can make a significant contribution to this important profession. By entering the profession at a young age, you have the opportunity to establish a long, sustained and rewarding career.
This is a profession which does not attract huge salaries across the board. Mainly this is because the work is manual and does not require much specialist education to perform the roles.
Earning potential in a entry level 9-5 job in a call centre may often be much higher than in the funeral industry. Indeed, working in the funeral industry may be a lifestyle decision more than necessarily a financial one.
Some funeral companies such as Nelson Bros are developing new ways to attract and maintain staff in the profession.
Funeral companies are different
Like in most professions, funeral companies differ. Some companies are large corporate entities that are floated on the stock exchange. They must answer to their public shareholders and are structured as such internally.
Other companies are small, single operators with limited facilities and very small numbers of staff. In such companies, there may be opportunities to quickly perform all roles in funeral service. Equally because there are few staff, you will be required more often.
Many companies within the funeral profession are family-owned and operated. Family members are very involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. In some of these organisations, there may be few management roles available to non-family members. You should consider what sort of organisation best reflects your needs.
From time to time, we have different positions available within Nelson Bros.
Our philosophy is not to be the biggest funeral director in Melbourne, but to be the best. All our staff share this same quality commitment.
We have five funeral homes around Melbourne. Most of our roles are based out of our Footscray head office. However all of our staff may work out of any of our funeral homes at any given time.
Our centralised garage and mortuary facility is located close to inner city Melbourne in Footscray.
A funeral is one of those things you absolutely have to get right the first time. Our client families have this high expectation and we simply have to meet it. Our reputation demands it.
Experience working in the funeral profession can be desirable but is not a prerequisite. Having worked in the industry before does help make the initial introduction to our firm easier.
Many of our staff were new to the profession when they began with us. What they offer are fresh ideas and new skills. You cannot underestimate the time needed to learn the industry
The technology used by Nelson Bros is an industry leader. All employees use computers for their various tasks, some more than others. We use technology from our reception and accounts to our mortuary and our operations.
Our funeral homes are connected by a virtual private broadband network, providing quick access and communication between our staff and our locations.
Whilst previous experience with computers is not compulsory, the willingness to learn to use them is.
Our funeral staff are employed on an annualised hours system. We recognise that the funeral profession is not a standard 9-5 type of industry and our work methods reflect that.
Staff are employed on the basis of a set number of hours per year and salaried accordingly. Workloads however differ by day and week, depending upon demand. Client families increasingly request services in evenings and on weekends.
Recently we have initiated opportunities for staff to include novated leases for motor vehicles as part of their overall salary package. This enables staff to tailor vehicles to their personal situations and provide them with increased benefits.
Whilst work is important, we place great importance in having a life outside work. We encourage all our staff to be involved in other activities and interests.
From time to time we have positions available at Nelson Bros Funeral Services (see Employment Opportunities below). We will always first review any existing applicants before advertising the position. Should you be interested in working with us, please send us your application and we will keep it on file until an appropriate position becomes available.
Nelson Bros does on occasion employ new staff who are not from Australia and are not Australian citizens. However we are unable to sponsor new employees to work in Australia.
If you live overseas and wish to work for Nelson Bros, you would be required to first complete all necessary immigration requirements. In most circumstances, we would also need to meet with you in person before we could you offer you a position of employment.
For more information about working in Australia, click here for the Australian Department of Immigration.
Entry-level career opportunity
- strong work ethic and commitment to quality
- hands-on role with significant after-hours work
- entry-level position
Nelson Bros seek applicants wanting to establish a career in the funeral industry. Nelson Bros is a fifth generation family owned and operated business with funeral homes in Melbourne suburbs. Our focus is on providing professional quality care in everything we do.
The successful candidates will be hard-working, hand-on and committed to quality customer service. Typical duties include the transfer of deceased persons, assisting on funerals, driving vehicles, cleaning and maintaining all our facilities. A full drivers license is required. The position involves significant after hours work, including regular weekend and night rosters.
This is an outstanding opportunity for a young person committed to learning and establishing a career in a rewarding industry. Full on-the-job training will be provided.
We are available to help you now. Please call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for immediate attention from someone you trust. We’re there when you need us.