Some funeral home owners saw a dip in the salaries they receive from their businesses in 2019 while many others reported that their compensation remained static, according to recent data gathered in national and state surveys.
A Kates-Boylston survey of 135 funeral directors nationwide, reported in an edition of Funeral Service Insider, indicates that 71 percent of funeral home owners kept their salary the same as in 2018 and 7 percent actually took less pay.
Conversely, the same survey showed a bump in the average owner salary reported of more than $6,000 a year to $127,816. That average, however, could be skewed by outliers on the high end of the salary scale or by a vastly different set of respondents from the 2018 survey. Interestingly, the 2018 Kates-Boylston survey indicated that 61 percent of owners did not take an increase in salary from the previous year.
Closer to home, the Thanexus Annual Report showed licensed owners made an average of $121,639 in 2019, which is down from $130,101 in 2018. The Thanexus survey is based on actual W-2 wages and is the only true source of actual labor and wage data for New Jersey’s funeral service professionals.
The percent of owners who either kept their salaries the same or took less money in 2019 can be explained by normal business practices, Gene Ogrodnik, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, said to Kates-Boylston.
“For those owners whose salaries went down … that may be explained by either a loss of market share by hiring a new employee because the owner didn’t want to work as hard as … in the past,” Ogrodnik said. “Likewise, the 71 percent whose compensation remained the same, did so, because the business remained relatively stable or static.”
The Northeast Funeral Service Partnership Survey, while not calculating an average salary, did show that 46 percent of owners polled made more than $100,000 a year. That number is up from the previous Northeast Partnership survey, which indicated that 41 percent made more than $100,000. The five states comprising the Northeast Funeral Service Partnership are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
The Kates-Boylston survey also showed that 43 percent of the most experienced funeral directors earned the same salary in 2019 as they did the year before. Another 2 percent made less. Among the least experienced funeral directors, 46 percent earned the same salary and 1 percent made less.
The Thanexus survey showed a slight bump in the average salary of licensed non-owners, from $78,590 in 2018 to $79,435 in 2019. Newly licensed directors made $47,806 in 2019, a small increase from the $47,646 earned in 2018.
The average numbers in the Kates-Boylston report showed increases in compensation for licensed non-owners from 2018 as well. The most experienced directors earned $76,675 and the least experienced earned $45,709. Both of those numbers are up from 2018, when salaries of $70,587.50 and $45,508.75 were reported.
In the Northeast Partnership survey, 35 percent of funeral directors with more than 15 years of experience earned between $70,000 and $99,000 a year. The survey also showed that 32 percent of funeral directors with less than two years of experience earned between $30,000 and $59,000 a year.