Could your next job mean working with the dead?
The funeral business is booming. The last couple of years have seen the falling death rate reverse, while at the same time, the cost of funerals has soared. The combination means that laying people to rest has become a vital industry in the UK. So would you consider a job with the dead?
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Sun Life's annual Cost of Dying survey shows that funerals have doubled in price since 2004 - so the cost of dying is rising faster than the cost of living. The average basic funeral costs £3,897, and if you want the whistles and bells, this can easily double.
It means that funeral firms are on the lookout for people with the right disposition to enter the profession. Co-op Funeralcare, for example, has in fact just announced its 2000th apprentice. It had a target of recruiting at least one apprentice every day last year - and it succeeded - now it wants to do the same again this year.
Could you do it?
The pay varies dramatically - depending on your role in the business. It tends to start at around £16,000, and through career progression, it's possible to earn £30,000 or more - which is not to be sniffed at. Of course, if you end up running your own business, you could make significantly more.
The other major attraction is that there is work across the country, so even in areas with difficult employment prospects, there is always an undertaker, and there will always be people in need of funeral services.
There's no age restriction either. The Co-op says it has drawn people of all ages to the business. Its youngest ever apprentice was Katie Tulett, a former councillor, who took up the role at the age of 21. At the other end of the age spectrum was Robert Brown, a 67-year-old former police officer from Canterbury. who became the organisation's oldest apprentice - and possibly the oldest one in the country.
You don't need any experience either. Katie's only experience was going to the funerals of her grandparents and her mum, and getting support from the funeral staff at the time. She said: "It was from the support my family received during these times that I realised I had to work in funerals."
However, those who have been through a very different career have picked up skills that are incredibly useful for an undertaker too. Emma, 36 works at the Co-op in Cornwall. She spent seven years working with the most dangerous and prolific young offenders in Plymouth as part of the Youth Offending Team, and says: "Having worked with young people for the past 14 years, I came to realise that what I really enjoyed about my role was meeting people from different backgrounds and being able to guide them through difficult times. My new career in funeralcare is extremely rewarding, the best part about it is knowing I'm making a difference to people's lives at what can be an incredibly hard time.''
Robert, meanwhile, says his experience as a detective, working with families going through terrible experiences, gave him vital skills for helping bereaved families. He adds: "After a 30 year stint with the police, I did wonder how I would find working in funerals, but I love it. I only wish I'd done it sooner. My wife also recently started working at the Margate funeral home and hopes to become an apprentice in the coming months."
So what do you think? Are you dead set on a new career? Could your future lie in funerals?