Death vs. Taxes: Battle of the Surest

by Derek Loosvelt | April 15, 2011

It's tax day, of course, which means it's time to celebrate getting through another season of 1040s and proxies if you're an accountant; to tighten your woven waist leather if you've been hit with a huge bill from your aging Uncle Sammy; or to simply hit the nearest TGIF because this year April 15th falls on a thank the good lord above it's Friday.

In any case, in honor of tax day, I thought I'd take the only two certainties in life, according to "Electric" Ben Franklin, and see which makes for the better career: death or taxes. That is, let's examine mortuary careers (often referred to as careers in undertaking or funeral directing) and careers in tax accounting, to see which comes out on top.

Hours
Mortuary: As your own boss, you'll have a lot of flexibility with hours; however, you will often be at the mercy of customers' "untimely demises" so hours can get erratic.
Tax accounting: Life's a beach in the off-season but a bee-atch during tax season.

Compensation
Mortuary: As an entry-level embalmer you will not be breaking the bank, but once you work your way up the undertaking ladder to own your own "home," you will be able to not only pay for your own funeral but all of your pals' as well.
Tax accounting: You will earn a very respectable salary as an entry-level bean counter, especially at a Big 4 firm; and once you make partner about a decade later, the big bucks (a few hundred grand a year) will start rolling in.

Culture
Mortuary: There's no easy way to put this, your work can sometimes be hell. And dark. The upside is you run your own show so you can pretty much create your own culture.
Tax accounting: Your workmates can be very nice but at times can also be about as exciting as a corpse.

Training
Mortuary: You might not think of this at a glance when pondering undertaking careers, but speaking with the grieving will give you some incredibly helpful people skills -- which you can take with you when you leave.
Tax accounting: Your knowledge of balance sheets and cash flows will be second to only that dude in the next cubicle.

Business Outlook
Mortuary: Excellent; everyone you know is a potential client.
Tax accounting: Ditto.

Filed Under: Finance


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