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The many different certifications of funeral service

by | Mar 30, 2017 | Funeral Profession

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In the funeral profession, it’s not uncommon to see all sorts of abbreviations and acronyms following the names of funeral directors.

Here’s a quick guide to the many different certifications, licenses, and titles a funeral director can have. Feel free to share this list with the families in your area!

The Most Common

  • LFD: Licensed Funeral Director
  • FSL: Funeral Service License
  • CFD: Certified Funeral Director

A LFD, FSL, and CFD are — for the most part — certifications for the same thing. Basically, you need one of these if you want to be a funeral director.

Why so many different titles?

It mainly has to do with where you studied to become a funeral director. Each state has different requirements and therefore defines the role differently. For example, if you got your license in Virginia, it’s referred to as an FSL, but in Wisconsin it might be called an LFD.

Some states define funeral directors and embalmers differently (like Vermont), while other states treat the two roles as the same. Most states require that an aspiring funeral director receives an apprenticeship at a funeral home, completes a certain number of hours in mortuary science, and passes a state exam to receive their license. On top of all that, there’s also a national exam a funeral director must pass.

Some states, like Colorado, don’t have a state license program at all, and certification is voluntary. Then there are other states that require funeral directors to continue their education every few years.

Other Licenses

Going beyond the general certifications, there also are some other acronyms that can be found behind funeral directors’ names. Some common ones are:

  • CFSP: Certified Funeral Service Practitioner
  • CPC: Certified Preplanning Consultant
  • CCO: Certified Crematory Operator

A CFSP is issued by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP). According to their site, the license is rewarded to those that “continue their education to exceed the highest standards of care.”

To receive certification, a funeral director must earn credits in certain categories such as academic, professional, public education, and service. After receiving a CFSP, continuing education must be earned to renew the license.

A CPC, or Certified Preplanning Consultant license, is accredited by the APFSP and by individual state licensing boards. The NFDA also offers a CPC program. While it’s a voluntary license, the NFDA states that a CPC “promote(s) the integrity and professionalism of those who are eligible to sell or assist in the sale of preneed goods and services under applicable state laws.”

CCO, or Certified Crematory Operator licenses, have grown significantly over the past few years with the rising rates of cremation. A CCO can be issued by individual state licensing agencies, or through programs like the NFDA’s Cremation Certification Program or CANA’s CCO program.

The Specialties

Beyond the regular licenses issued to funeral directors, there also are those who seek out specialization in different areas. Here are some of the few we’ve come across.

CFC: Certified Funeral Celebrant

The CFC is another certification offered by the NFDA. It’s a newer program designed to bring a personalized process to traditional funeral planning. The program teaches skills in presentation, ceremonial writing, unique ways of incorporating readings and music, as well as how to market the “celebrant concept” within your community.

NFDA Arranger

The NFDA Arranger program is designed to help funeral directors get more from the arrangement making process when meeting with families for the first time. One of the key focus points is how to offer unique memorial services even when cremation is chosen.

CGC: Certified Grief Counselor

The Grief Counselor Certification is offered through the American Institute of Health Care Professionals. It’s a program open to funeral directors to help them aid families in grasping with grief and educate them on mourning a loss in healthy ways.


  1. John Parker

    This article is so full of inaccurate information that it makes my head spin. A license is defined as formal permission from a governmental or other constituted authority to do something, as to carry on some business or profession. A funeral director, embalmer or funeral service practitioner needs a LICENSE, issued by their state, province, territory, or the District of Columbia, etc. to practice, unless they practice in Colorado. A certification is attained after demonstrating competence in a specialized field. CFSP, CPC and CCO are certifications, not licenses. The state of Colorado does not issue licenses but the Colorado Funeral Directors Association has a certification program. The Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP) does not offer the Certified Preplanning Consultant certification. CPC certification is obtained by completing the coursework and passing an exam administered by the NFDA. CPC is maintained by completing the required continuing education requirements.
    I know of no Certified Funeral Celebrants that abbreviate their titles. Many people in the U.S. and Canada don’t know what a Funeral Celebrant is, much less any associated abbreviation, so it would serve little purpose for a Celebrant to abbreviate. Celebrants are certified through InSight or the Celebrant Institute and Foundation, not NFDA. Frazer Consultants needs to do a little research before they put out these articles, but they seem to be more interested in quantity than quality. This in not the first Frazer article I’ve read that should have never been distributed.
    – John E. Parker, CFSP, CPC, CCO and Certified Funeral Celebrant

    • Charlinda

      Mr. John, I am a graduate of Piedmont College in Greenwood SC. Certificate in Funeral Services. Is there an abbreviation for that? I am getting ready to start my apprenticeship in January.

  2. Shawn Jordan

    What to no about classes


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