A gravedigger isn't the very first occupation that a child thinks of when they ponder what they want to be when they grow up – perhaps if they read 'Tales from the Crypt.' It can be an interesting line of work for those who want to get their hands dirty and work in a quiet environment.
In other words, besides the grimly reason gravediggers exist, if you're a botanist in your spare time then perhaps this is the job you should get your hands on.
What do cemetery workers do?
This career primarily consists of digging a grave before a scheduled funeral service takes place.
Of course, there are other important duties to regularly perform. A full-time cemetery worker will usually collect and remove litter, plant seeds and flowers, water lawns, use and maintain irrigation systems and constructing forms to create garden borders. If the cemetery is rather large then a cemetery worker will find a lot of tasks to complete each working day.
The employment position of a gravedigger, or a cemetery worker, can be traced back centuries. Similar to landscape or grounds maintenance, cemetery workers complete a variety of on-site environmental tasks, such as planting, watering, digging, raking and fertilizing, which can be physically rigorous as well.
Over the years, the duties of a cemetery worker have greatly advanced. Rather than grabbing a shovel and digging a hole in the ground, a gravedigger must maintain an abundance of skills, including operating mechanical digging equipment, the ability to work in all sorts of weather and maintain an understanding in cultivation.
Much like any other landscaping career, this job is mainly performed outside. This means that anyone preparing to embark upon a career in gravedigging should be prepared to work in frigid and hot temperatures, terrible weather conditions and be around various insects. Overall, you should be physically fit and enjoy being outdoors.
Salary and hours
Median hourly wage
$25,000 to $45,000
Cemetery workers usually work a standard 9 to 5 shift Monday to Friday with the occasional weekend shift, but it could depend upon the hours of operation for the cemetery (hours vary by the season). A gravedigger can expect to work 30 to 40 hours a week.
Where do gravediggers work?
Obviously, gravediggers work at cemeteries, but they can also find other part-time work at funeral homes and for landscaping companies.
Education and qualifications
There isn't any specific education, training or qualifications needed, though some businesses may require at least a high school diploma or GED. With that being said, it's very important that a gravedigger has experience as a groundskeeper, landscaper or even superintendent. Having knowledge with machinery, fields, gardening and other related areas are imperative to entering this career field. Most important of all, you must be sensitive in these surroundings.
Being a gravedigger or cemetery worker may not be the cheeriest career path to take, but think about the most notable gravediggers of the past, including former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, former MLB player Richie Hebner and The Clash frontman Joe Strummer.
Do you have experience in cemetery work? Let us know in the comment section.
Photo by Andrew Moran