More people than ever are studying to become a funeral director, despite the fact no qualification is required to work as one.
Tertiary institute WelTec is the only place in New Zealand to offer a diploma for the role, and has 50 per cent more enrolments than average this year.
Course organisers say there would generally be around 15 people in a class, but this year the roll is 24.
Head of the course, Pierre Erasmus says, "I think part of trend that we see is funeral homes are banking on the qualification and advertising the qualification to the public as well."
Additionally, "for those funeral homes who don’t have qualified staff they are almost excluded from association memberships," he said.
Those enrolled to study must have already worked in the industry for 12 months, and continue to work during the course, putting their learnings into practice.
The diploma programme also includes block courses in Wellington.
Student ages range from 18 to over 35, but Mr Erasmus says classes are getting younger.
"In the past the average age was mid to late 40s."
"I think we will see younger people coming through as the industry has to train more people up again as well," he said.
18-year-old studying to be funeral director
Oliver Davey, 18, is completing the course this year. He's grown up with his parents working in the industry.
"With me being the oldest child I’ve sort of grown into the role of helping them out," he said.
He says since he's a young funeral director, completing the course will help put families' minds at ease that he can do the job well.
There are currently around 550 funeral directors in New Zealand, and the Funeral Directors Association says in 20 years time there will need to be at least an additional 200.
"That's just to keep the level of funeral directors to funerals the same as it is at the moment," Association President Gary Taylor says.
Looking forward, the Government is looking at possible regulations for the sector.
"I think it should be a goal for all funeral directors to be qualified where they can be," said Mr Taylor.