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Bringing Professional Standards to “The Family Business”

December 7, 2014

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Bringing Professional Standards to “The Family Business”

Many of us were grandfathered into the death care industry. Growing up, we watched our funeral director fathers and mothers give compassionate counsel to grieving families. We couldn’t imagine a different profession for ourselves than “the family business.”

Passing the funeral business from one generation to the next meant mortuary employees receive on the job training. This also is the case for crematory operators who work behind the scenes.

But standards have changed. The growing demand for cremation means the value of certified cremation professionals has never been greater. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) believes the industry has the public responsibility to ensure operators are prepared for the ethical and legal demands of their role.

CANA developed the Crematory Operators Certification Program™ (COCP™) more than 30 years ago to bring better risk management to an industry where regulation is constantly increasing. CANA recognized that cremation is more than simply operating a machine; it requires a wide range of professional skills and knowledge of best policies, practices and procedures for dealing with the families of the deceased.

Beyond providing a professional standard, “certification elevates the role of crematory operator to its proper place,” says Sheri Stahl, CANA board president-elect and fellow second-generation funeral director. Like her father’s, Sheri’s operators are a vital part of the team that provides solace and service to families when they need it most.


CANA has certified more than 5,000 death care professionals, and registration rates continue to rise as more state boards require crematory operator certification. In response to cremation’s rising popularity, CANA recently revamped its COCP™ curriculum. Association leaders partnered with crematory manufacturers, practicing industry experts, and subject matter specialists to design a one-day certification course that is no longer just for operators. The program provides professionals of all backgrounds — owners, managers, funeral directors, and even support staff — and levels of experience a thorough knowledge of the practice, risks and proactive measures to take for a prosperous cremation practice.


Whether the death care industry is your “family business” or you found a different path here, formal certification is an integral part of training your staff, keeping up-to-date on industry trends and protecting your business from the unexpected.


Robert M. Boetticher Jr., CANA President

Carriage Services, Inc., Boise, Idaho