Direct Cremate

What a Crematory Operator Actually Does

What does a crematory operator actually do? Discover what the job entails, how crematory operators are trained and the hazards of operating a retort.
How Death Care Workers Become a Crematory Operator
How Death Care Workers Become a Crematory Operator

Have you ever wondered who runs a cremation retort? Often people think the funeral director is handling everything, but that isn’t usually the case. Crematoriums typically employ a number of specialists, including a crematory operator. Keep reading to learn what role the crematory operator plays in the cremation process. 

Crematory Operator Job Roles

The crematory operator has a specialized job that revolves around the retort. They aren’t always tasked with preparing the body for cremation, which could be left to another trained professional called a mortician. However, once it’s time for the actual cremation, that’s when the crematory operator takes over. 

A crematory operator: 

  • Prepares the retort for the cremation.
  • Places the body into the retort.
  • Operates and monitors the retort during the cremation.
  • Removes metal from the cremated remains.
  • Pulverizes the remaining bones and teeth to create the cremains. 
  • Upkeeps the cremation machinery. 

The list above includes the standard duties of crematory operators, however, the role can include other tasks. 

Crematory Operator Training

A cremation retort can be a dangerous piece of equipment if you don’t know how to use it. That’s why being a crematory operator requires special training as well as certification in many states and municipalities. Training for crematory operators involves legal, scientific and mechanical instruction. You’ll learn about the cremation process in detail, the essentials of operating a retort, how to avoid mistakes and legal problems and minimizing environmental issues related to cremation.  

There are a few ways a person can train to become a crematory operator:

  • Apprenticing – The funeral industry is one that still has apprenticeships for training professionals. During the apprenticeship, crematory operation can be part of the training even if the death care professional will primarily have another role at the funeral home.
  • Internships – It’s also possible for death care professionals to take part in an internship that prepares them for crematory operation. 
  • Certification Programs – There are crematory operations certification programs (COCP) that can be taken online or in-person.

A number of organizations such as the Cremation Association of North American (CANA) have crematory operator certification programs. Many programs cover both flame cremation and water cremation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis. Crematory operators should also receive on-the-job training related to operating the specific machinery at their funeral home. 

Even if your state or local area doesn’t require crematory operators to get certified, it’s good for a funeral home to have a certified specialist. It’s a sign that the funeral home is dedicated to providing the best cremation services possible. 

Crematory Operator Work Hazards

Operating a cremation retort can be risky business. The extreme temperatures alone are a serious workplace hazard for crematory operators, but it isn’t the only concern. Crematory operators must know what they are doing so that they don’t damage the equipment or cause an explosion that could endanger others.

Outside of the equipment, there are other work hazards that crematory operators have to watch out for, like the issue of illness and diseases. Most of the time the deceased is no longer contagious. However, there are a few instances that require precautions to protect crematory workers. One of those instances is when the deceased received cancer treatments. There are time-based restrictions if radiation therapy was used because funeral home workers could be exposed to residual radiation. Certain diseases can also pose a risk. These include ebola and prion infections.

Want to know more about who provides cremation services at a funeral home? You can call or text Direct Cremate any time of day to get answers to your questions about cremation or to arrange direct cremation services.