How to Become a Taxidermist
By Eric Hammer
So you want to become a taxidermist, huh? Taxidermy is the
art of stuffing animals and making them presentable to be displayed
on the wall. Remember that term well though - taxidermy is an
art form. While many people tend to think that to become a taxidermist
you just need to learn how to apply the right chemicals, it's
much more than that.
Yes, you need to know how to apply the right chemicals to
create the perfect stuffed animal (not to be confused with the
cuddly kind). However, this job is much more an art form than
a science. People typically study taxidermy for a significant
amount of time and the people paying for their prize to be stuffed
will expect to see quality results, therefore you can't go into
this business lightly, thinking that it's all about the science.
How Much Can You Make?
According to salary expert, the average taxidermist tends
to earn around $40,000 per year. Unlike most other jobs, taxidermy
also seems to be one that offers little variation in salary depending
on where you are in the country. Of course, if you were to start
your own business, then the amount you earn is largely up to
you and your own abilities.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Keep in mind that if you wish to become a taxidermist, you'll
need to know quite a bit about an animal's insides and how they
operate in the wild. This is important both for posing the animal
you stuff for a client and for understanding why certain poses
may not work.
Speaking of poses, one of the specialties in taxidermy that
some people do is to stuff animals and pose them in weird ways.
For example, in Florida, it's possible to buy a real, stuffed
alligator which has been posed with a tray in its paw so that
it can serve as a rather odd coaster. While some people may find
this particularly gruesome or macabre, others find it amusing
and will pay extra to get taxidermy that looks like that.
In addition, while many people who want to become a taxidermist
think about working with wild game and stuffing things like deer
heads and bears, others will work in a completely different kind
of taxidermy - stuffing a beloved family pet that has died. Again,
some people may find it unsettling, but for others, the idea
of having their family pet stuffed so that they can have it with
them forever is perfectly logical and even acceptable.
Qualifications / Requirements
In order to become a taxidermist, in most states you will
need to apply for a license. Check with your state licensing
board as every state is different. However, as a rule of thumb,
expect to need some course work and to have to pass at least
a written test and possibly a practical exam as well.
Start by visiting several taxidermy shops and talking to the
taxidermists there. Ask what it's like and if you can watch quietly
as they work on an animal being stuffed. See if this feels like
something you'd like to do. It's definitely not for everyone.
Even people who think they want to become a taxidermist sometimes
decide it's not for them after they see the process in action.
If you do like it, see if you can work as an unpaid intern for
a period of time with a professional taxidermist and learn a
little more about the profession. Then, take some courses in
taxidermy at your local community college or in a specialist
Check out these helpful resources to find out more about how
to become a taxidermist:
Institute of Taxidermy - A school where you can learn the
art of taxidermy.
- A web site devoted to taxidermy which includes an excellent
forum where you can ask questions about the art of taxidermy.
eHow: How to Become a Taxidermist - A good if
somewhat short introduction to becoming a taxidermist.