ARC hosts college hour on funeral services


Professor Damon Dela-Cruz of Sacramento's East Lawn Mortuary spoke on April 7 at Raef Hall during a college hour. (Photo by Joe Padilla)

Bailey Carpenter

The college hour on Thursday at American River College covered Funeral Services and give an overview of the program that is held on campus.

The program at ARC is in the process of growing and hopes to help families that can’t pay the coroner’s fee to release a body.  

The program will pay the coroner’s fee of $400 and the students will do all the work to give the families back their loved one including cremating the body.  

This will help students get more practice in the field and help families who don’t have the money to support a funeral service.  

“It was nice to see that people actually came out to learn a little bit more about funeral services,” said first-semester ARC student Chantelle Willis.

Funerals are changing and now families can have funeral services at a golf course or scatter ashes while on a hot air balloon.  

“Anything you can think of that would be a representation of a person … we will do it all,” said Valarie Rose, an assistant professor in funeral services. “Whatever it is that represents the person.”

The two main careers in funeral services are a funeral director and an embalmer.  

To be a funeral director, students need to have completed 60 general education units and pass the Funeral Directors examination.  

A funeral director provides support to a family with a lost one, arrange and direct ceremonies, and prepare the preparation of a body.  Funeral directors make around $51,720 a year.

An embalmer has to have an A.S. in funeral services, take the National Board exam, the State Board exam, and have a two year apprenticeship.  

The two year apprenticeship includes embalming a minimum of 100 cases.

Embalmers focus on presentation, disinfection, and preservation of a body.  They usually make around $42,750 a year.

The program at ARC has changed from a two year program to a one year program.

Students can now get their general education requirements in any subject and then take a year to finish a funeral service degree.  

A career in funeral services has declined to about 5-7 years due to harsh hours and low pay.

“A funeral director and an embalmers schedule is not from 8-5,” said Damon Dela-Cruz, director of the Funeral Service Education program on campus. “That can be very challenging for someone because when you work every holiday and every weekday, that is a big commitment.”