HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It's a job that could be looked at as physically and emotionally draining.
"Once, there was a time that those that entered the profession were from a family firm. That's not the case anymore," said Joseph Walton with Walton Funeral Home.
Walton is referring to the job of a funeral director. He runs Walton Funeral Home and is now wearing another hat - that of instructor of TCC's new Funeral Services program.
"It is great to be able to have the experience in being a practitioner and to bring that into the classroom as well," said Walton.
TCC is the first college in the nation - and the only college in the state - to now soon offer an associate degree in funeral directing.
"Individuals entering the profession have a unique set of skills. They are able to empathize and have attention to detail and strong business skills," he said.
The course offered this fall will be 100% online. Students will gain insight into funeral home operations and management while providing care to grieving families.
"Many of the courses are social science, psychology, religion, and there is a business law component as well," he said.
The 61-credit program will prepare students to be certified crematory operators and provide a path to licenseship for those who don't want to be in the preparation room. Walton says salaries in the area start around $55,000.
"A person can come to us and invest less than $12,000, and they would quadruple that in first year they are working," he said.