As Halloween approaches and things get a bit more spooky, why not consider a creepy career change? Dealing with dead bodies and other dark deeds may not be your ideal job, but you may change your mind after finding how much they pay. Though not for the faint of heart, the following careers offer some great financial reward—along with great stories to have in your back pocket for parties. These not-so-scary salary numbers come from The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Department of Labor.

Key Takeaways

  • Careers such as embalmers and coroners are often considered creepy but come with financial rewards.
  • Gravediggers require being physically fit but pay close to $35,000.
  • Funeral service managers can earn nearly $74,000.
  • Forensic pathologist positions require a great deal of school and training but pay around $135,944.


Do you enjoy working with you hands? Are you physically fit? Are you generally not bothered by the possibility of a zombie apocalypse? Perhaps you should look into being a gravedigger.

Gravediggers usually work 9-5 (no midnight shifts, despite what the movies tell you) with possible weekend work and are often responsible for grounds maintenance as well as digging graves. You will need to be physically capable of digging large amounts of dirt and gardening, and you would have to be sensitive to those grieving around you. One warning: it might not be the cheeriest place to work.

The average salary for a gravedigger can be anywhere from $25,000-$34,999 depending on your level of seniority


Do you have great attention to detail, smart fashion sense, and a (very) strong stomach? Then embalming just might be the career for you.

Embalmer duties vary from distasteful to downright stomach-turning. The easiest on the stomach is washing and drying the body and applying cosmetics to give them a "life-like" glow. Embalmers also arrange for transfers of the body to other locations for burials. The less appetizing duties include draining all the blood out of a human body and using a pump to replace it with embalming fluid, removing other body fluids and wastes, sewing lips, and putting cotton behind the eyelids, so they don't sink down.

If you have an iron stomach, the mean annual wage expected for a typical embalmer is $42,780 but can be as high as $54,999.


Are you interested in law and court proceedings? Do you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the human body and all the ways it can be killed? Your dream job just might be working as a coroner.

Coroners coordinate and perform autopsies. In this position, you get to make the call if someone died from mysterious circumstances and should be investigated further. Coroners organize pathological testing and are called to crime scenes to remove bodies. They also testify in court concerning the circumstances surrounding the body when it was found and the discoveries made through autopsies and subsequent testing.

The median salary for a coroner is $67,870.

Funeral Service Managers 

Do you have a head for business, great people skills, and a knack for managing? Owning a funeral home could be right up your alley.

Funeral directors have to excel at organization. They are in charge of not only coordinating funerals, but also of sending the body to be embalmed, ensuring it arrives for the funeral, and obtaining death certificates and the necessary permits for burial. Part of their job description includes being a salesperson and a grief counselor, no easy feat.

The expected salary for a typical funeral service manager is $73,830.

Cremation Technician

If you can handle the heat, then working as a cremation technician might interest you.

Cremation is becoming a more popular post-mortem option because it is less expensive and allows more time for the loved ones to gather before spreading or burying the ashes. Cremation, or crematorium, technicians are responsible for making sure that the correct body is being cremated and for properly preserving a person's ashes.

The average salary for a cremation technician is $30,910.

Forensic Pathologist

Do you like a good medical mystery? Do you have the drive to become a doctor? Forensic pathology may be your calling.

Forensic pathologists examine fluids, tissue, and other bodily samples to determine a cause of illness or death. They perform autopsies and may be called in to consult if the cause of death is difficult to ascertain. The position requires a medical degree, so be prepared to invest in this career. In fact, be prepared to spend as many as 15 years studying, being a resident, and completing a fellowship before you can even take the exams. However, the pay reflects the large amount of school and training.

The average salary for a forensic pathologist is $135,944, depending on years of experience and range of specialties.

Remember, these numbers are national averages. The salaries can vary widely based on location, experience, and employer. If you work in a city with a high violent crime death rate, you can expect almost all of these average salaries to be boosted by about $20,000. These careers are challenging and fill vital roles in our society. So if you can't stomach it yourself, be glad there are those who can. (Read more about the spooky side of finance in Haunting Wall Street: The Halloween Terminology Of Investing.)