Just like many other creative careers, taxidermy doesn’t necessarily require a university degree. You will, however, need some very in-depth training and will have to put in a lot of hours before you are truly good at it.
You have the choice of completing an apprenticeship if you can find someone who will teach you the craft and is willing to give you their time. Often, if you work as an assistant, this might be the arrangement. In this case, make sure that the person you are learning from specializes in what you would like to do in the future. This will be more helpful in the long-run.
On the other hand, you can go to a taxidermy school. Almost every state has one or more of these. Make sure the school you choose is certified, since this will help when you are obtain your own personal taxidermy certification. Also, look closely at the programs to see what they offer. Do they teach you tanning or business? Do you need to learn these for what you would like to do? There are many programs out there, so do your research. Cheaper is also not necessarily better, learn why tuition is higher at some places than others.
Finally, if you would like to get a college degree, you can go with subjects such as biology, environment, business or fine arts. Either one of these will take you a step closer to becoming a taxidermist; however, remember that you will still need to get the craft-specific training elsewhere.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE TO BECOME A TAXIDERMIST?
- Northwood Institute of Taxidermy
Located in Friedens, PA, the Northwood Institute of Taxidermy provides students with a well-rounded course in taxidermy, which includes 13 weeks of training and does hands-on teaching through mounting a variety of animals. The different courses within the full package can be completed separately as well. Tuition here costs $7,995 plus $1,000 for lodging for the duration of the course.
- Artistic School of Taxidermy
This school gives more flexibility to their students by offering per training day rates, which include lodging, but not mounting materials. For $300 per day, students are able to learn what they wish directly from the instructor and choose the length of their stay in Kooskia, Idaho.
- Montana School of Taxidermy
This school in Helene, Montana, offers full courses in commercial taxidermy, tanning and habitat preparation. The full-time, 8-week course’s current price is $4,700, including all materials; however, payment for housing is separate and is between $500-900 per month. All the courses can be taken and paid for separately as well.
- Pennsylvania Institute of Taxidermy
Located in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, the school offers a 7-month-long course, integrating everything you need to know about taxidermy. They also offer support on getting financial aid, business-related courses, and lodging. Tuition cost for the entire program is an estimated $22,150 plus around $5,000 for room and board if you choose to stay on campus.
- Central Texas School of Taxidermy
This is a shorter option for those who have a little less time to spend on classes. Students have a choice of a 2 or 6-week course, both of which cover all aspects of taxidermy. Tuition for 2 weeks is $2,300, and $6,900 for 6 weeks. The school is located in Snyder, Texas.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
So how does one get started? Well, just like any other business, the best way is probably to work as an assistant for someone else at first. This will ensure that you perfect your craft and that you get your name out there within your community.
Make sure to join the taxidermy and maybe hunting clubs in your area. They will get you invaluable contacts for future clients, as well as learning possibilities. Also, use social media for networking. You can post your creations on Instagram and Facebook letting people know what you can do.
Taxidermy is time-consuming and meticulous, but can be very rewarding once the job is finished. Just have patience with your work and with your potential clients.