How did you choose the funeral director profession?

By: Katie DeCapria
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How did you choose the funeral director profession?

“I like helping people and making them feel better in times of need.” For Katie DeCapria, funeral director intern, that sums up why she chose the funeral director profession. She was exposed to funeral work as a child because her father, Dave, now a funeral home assistant, worked with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. This provided him with opportunities to help people in need.  Early on Katie thought she would either follow in her father’s helping footsteps, or work with children.

Then in high school, she took an anatomy class and knew she loved science. As a Human Development and Family Studies major at Penn State, Katie solidified the idea of funeral service after a summer academic internship with Koch Funeral Home. She learned that being a funeral director would merge her love of science with her interest in the caring ministries.

After graduating from Penn State in August 2014, Katie applied to the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) and in October 2014 began their two year program. She completed their coursework online which required a lot of self- discipline and commitment, two traits very evident in Katie. 

Mortuary school included classes in all aspects of funeral service – operations, finances, human resources, technical aspects, funeral management, and legal compliance with the many Federal Trade Commission regulations. In addition to the coursework, Katie also had many hands-on requirements, such as cosmetizing. Although it was difficult and sad to learn about some deaths, Katie was especially drawn to this and found it rewarding to make the deceased person look as close as possible to how they did when they were living.

After two years of schooling, including 40 embalmings, Katie passed her PIMS comprehensive exam. She then passed her national boards in December 2016 making her eligible to be a funeral director intern, which she began with Koch in January 2017. 

As a funeral director intern, Katie is required to guide 35 families through the process from making arrangements to interring their loved ones in their final resting places. Katie sits with the families, talks with them about their desires, helps them arrange the services, cares for their loved ones’ bodies, facilitates the services, and coordinates the final interment. And when it comes to the services, she is a firm believer in their importance, especially as a place to honor each unique life and bring people together to grieve and provide support.

For Katie, a good day at Koch Funeral Home involves guiding a family through the steps to bury or inurn their loved one. At the end of the day, she wants to have helped others. Katie intends to become a licensed funeral director in January 2018.

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