Why I swapped the beauty industry for a career as a Funeral Director
"I really couldn't think of a more rewarding job than the one I do."
When Raegan Drew was younger, she was convinced working in the beauty industry would be her dream career.
But after completing a qualification, she realised it wasn’t for her and found her calling in a completely different sector.
The 27-year-old from Howgate, Midlothian, now works as a Funeral Director and has spent the last seven years with Co-op Funeralcare.
Here, Raegan tells us about her working day.
Why did you swap beauty for funeralcare?
I originally studied beauty at college but when I received my qualification as a beauty specialist from Mary Reids, I didn’t feel it was what I wanted to do.
I started looking into cosmetology within the funeral industry, which is when I first heard about embalming.
After researching it further, I arranged to meet with a small family funeral directors to discuss it in more detail and they gave me my first insight into embalming as a work experience placement.
I knew this was what I wanted to do - so much so that I funded myself to be enrolled on a private embalming course in Dumbarton.
What does the role involve?
It’s very varied. I could be in the office arranging masonry products and other services available, or arranging funerals with bereaved families, ensuring that all their wishes are carried out exactly as agreed.
On the day of a funeral, I will be there for our clients as the main person responsible for proceedings. Other aspects of my role can involve attending a death at a nursing home, family homes or even attending hospitals to bring people’s loved ones into our care.
I could be furnishing coffins in the workshop or preparing a limousine or hearse for a funeral. I also still get the opportunity to embalm and prepare people’s loved ones in our care.
What training or qualifications did you need?
I didn’t need any qualifications as such to get my first job as a funeral arranger within the funeral industry.
I went on all of the welcome courses, health and safety, etc. but specific training is all done on the job.
Most of my learning was done when I was based one-on-one in an office with a well-experienced funeral arranger who let me sit in on family arrangements with clients’ consent.
We did mock arrangements together until I was comfortable and competent enough to go in with families independently.
Over the course of a year, I completed my BTEC in Funeral Arranging. I then went on to complete a workplace NVQ and, through doing my Funeral Directors NVQ, I received an Intermediate Level 2 certificate in numeracy from the SQA.
The NVQ consisted of on-the-job training again, with an external verifier coming in to observe me on arranging and conducting a funeral and my interaction with clients.
This was done over the course of a year before I successfully completed the qualification and received my certificate.
What’s been the reaction of family and friends?
My family and friends are so supportive. They are all very proud of the role that I do. My friends love introducing me with: “Guess what her job is?” No one has got it right yet.
Unfortunately, I’ve had to arrange and conduct funerals within my own circle of family and friends, and it’s at these times those closest to me get to see in a bit more depth what I do.
They still can’t believe the job I do, but it’s at these difficult times they are most proud.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
I get to be part of a strong, dedicated team. There is so much that goes into arranging a funeral and so many people involved every step of the way.
We are able to help people and support bereaved families when they need it most. If, at the end of a funeral, a family say “thank you – that was perfect” I know we have done our job and it’s the best feeling.
I really couldn’t think of a more rewarding job than the one I do.