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Senate modifies funeral licensing qualifications

The full Senate gave unanimous approval to House Bill 3359 Thursday, which would modify the education qualifications for those pursuing a career in funeral directing or embalming. The measure was authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington.

With the goal of increasing the number of future licensees in the funeral industry, the legislation decreases the amount of extra college required that is not associated with mortuary school, which is approximately 60 hours. This reduces the education credits needed from roughly a bachelor’s degree to an associate’s degree, lessening unnecessary schooling expenses.

“Making this change in the qualifications for funeral directors and embalmers will reduce the amount of student debt an applicant must take on, as well as the amount of time it takes to be licensed,” Pederson said. “This is a workforce pipeline that is very necessary but doesn’t fill quickly. I hope these changes will promote increased interest in these job fields.”

The measure also lays out requirements that can be met for an embalmer in lieu of the qualifications listed in the Funeral Services Licensing Act. These include:

  • Completion of an embalmer course of study approved by the Oklahoma Funeral Board and administered by a program accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education;
  • Completion of a 12-month term as a registered apprentice with full-time employment at a licensed establishment;
  • Have assisted with 25 embalmings under the supervision of a state-licensed embalmer; and
  • Pass the embalmer examination provided by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Board and a law exam provided by the Oklahoma Funeral Board with a 75 or higher.

House Speaker Charles McCall is the House principal author of the measure.

The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk. If signed, the changes would take effect immediately.