How to become a funeral celebrant

Published: 9/2/2023

Do you have a genuine passion for helping others and making them feel at ease when they talk to you? If so, a career as a funeral celebrant might be the perfect job for you.

It takes a special kind of person to work with bereaved families of diverse backgrounds, while demonstrating empathy and care in all situations. Likewise, being able to speak respectfully and professionally about someone you are likely to never meet requires a special kind of person.

What is a funeral celebrant?

Funeral celebrants are qualified people who are trained to assist bereaved families to officiate funeral ceremonies, memorial services or celebrations of life. To ensure the delivery of exceptional service, a good funeral celebrant must meticulously gather information about the deceased person's life, without causing additional distress to the bereaved family. For those looking to better understand the industry and perform the job with pride and professionalism, enrolling in a certified celebrant course is highly recommended.

In this guide, we provide you with everything you need to know about becoming a funeral celebrant, including:

  • Skills required to become a funeral celebrant
  • Responsibilities of a funeral celebrant
  • Becoming trained as a funeral celebrant
  • Associations, accreditations and regulations for funeral celebrants  

Generally speaking, a funeral celebrant typically only has a short time to speak with both the family and the funeral director. They gather information that will be useful for the ceremony, such as poetry, quotes, or other appropriate works, and drafts the speech. Changes are then made in the hope of delivering a moving, impactful and professional service. So, how does one achieve all this?

How to become a celebrant  

Generally, a funeral director will refer a funeral celebrant to a family planning a funeral. Many funeral directors have relationships with several celebrants they regularly liaise with. So, although building a relationship with a director can take time, it's a good place to start.

What skills do I need to be a funeral celebrant?

Favoured funeral celebrants have skills that funeral service providers depend on. You should be able to:

  • Clear and sensitive communication
  • Strong, clear and expressive writing skills that evoke emotions
  • Effective listening skills to ensure key information is captured
  • Speak confidently in public and during one-on-one interactions
  • Establish and maintain long-lasting working relationships in the industry
  • Emotional control with respectful and caring responses at all times
  • Ability to work with people from different backgrounds
  • Be flexible
  • Effective small business management, including invoicing.

What will I do as a funeral celebrant?

Funeral celebrants will manage and officiate the funeral service. Usually the funeral directors will handle the administration of a funeral, but sometimes a funeral celebrant will handle administration too.

Your role as a funeral celebrant involves:

  • Meeting with the family to gain a clear understanding of the deceased person and how they lived their life
  • Going over the details of the ceremony to help create the desired atmosphere
  • Working in collaboration with the funeral director
  • Drafting a eulogy, if required
  • Sometimes you might offer support and guidance to the family to help them plan the funeral service, including suggestions for music, readings or poems.
  • Organising the order of service for the funeral
  • Leading and delivering the funeral service with empathy and respect

Funeral celebrant training

The funeral celebrant industry is unregulated in Australia, unlike the marriage celebrant industry. No formal training is mandated, however, without any experience officiating funerals or the need to improve confidence is apparent, it may be best to enrol in a funeral celebrant training course.

On average, a training course can be completed in a year or less. At completion, you will be equipped with the confidence, knowledge and skills required to create and officiate a funeral service. You may also find funeral directors are more willing to work with funeral celebrants who possess formal training.

For most people, becoming a funeral celebrant is a calling. Although its demands and the emotional strain it may cause, being a source of comfort to people in their time of need can also be very gratifying.

If you think you have what it takes to become a funeral celebrant, enrol today and start making a difference to others who are grieving. The world is waiting on you!

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