There are over 3,300 taxidermy businesses in the United States. But it’s a tough field to get into. There’s a lot you need to learn before you get started.
What goes into working in taxidermy? What education and experience do you need?
Read on to find out how to become a taxidermist.
Do Your Research
To start, immerse yourself in research. Begin by delving into the history and evolution of taxidermy.
Research the wildlife species native to your region. Understand the characteristics, behaviors, and habitats of these animals. This will give you a leg up on the competition in your area.
Familiarize yourself with the techniques that have developed over time. Look at the diverse ways animals are preserved and mounted. This historical context provides valuable insights into taxidermy.
Research the various techniques employed in taxidermy. Understand the differences between full-body mounts, shoulder mounts, and wall-mounted specimens.
Explore specialized areas to find your niche within the field. Bird taxidermy and aquatic taxidermy are two great options.
Gaining knowledge about animal anatomy, physiology, and behavior is essential. Study how animals move. Look at their skeletal structures and muscle placement. This understanding is crucial for accurately recreating lifelike poses and expressions.
Research the tools and materials required for taxidermy. Understand their uses, functions, and proper maintenance. Invest in high-quality equipment for the best results.
Prioritize safety and hygiene throughout your journey to become a successful taxidermist. Protective gear is your first line of defense.
Gloves, masks, and eye protection shield you from potential health hazards that can happen in this field.
You need proper ventilation to prevent the buildup of harmful fumes. That’s especially true when particularly when using preservation chemicals.
Practice good hygiene by washing your hands. Avoid touching your face, eating, or drinking in the workspace.
That helps minimize potential Keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand. It should contain basic supplies that can help treat minor injuries. These could include things like bandages, antiseptics, and scissors.
Dispose of waste materials properly. Any hazardous substances should be disposed of according to local regulations. Never pour chemicals down the drain.
Think About Your Ethics
There are ethical considerations you should keep in mind, too.
Ethical sourcing of animal specimens is paramount. Prioritize animals that have died of natural causes.
Or, look for ones that have been obtained legally. Refrain from contributing to practices that exploit wildlife or endanger species. Uphold your commitment to preserving and respecting the memory of the animals you work with.
Conservation awareness is central to ethical taxidermy. Avoid working with endangered or protected species. Be conscious of the potential impact on wildlife populations. By promoting responsible practices, you contribute to the preservation of biodiversity.
Once you’re established, you’ll have to talk to clients about your plans for their deceased animals. Be transparent with your clients about the origins of the specimens you work with. Provide information about ethical sourcing and the laws that govern taxidermy.
You also need to understand where other cultures are coming from. Respect cultural sensitivities surrounding the use of animal remains. Be mindful of how your work might be perceived by different cultures and communities.
Practice Different Skills
Developing your artistic skills is crucial when pursuing taxidermy careers. Hone your abilities in drawing, painting, and sculpting to capture the essence of animals in your work.
Understand color theory, texture, and form. This will help you create realistic and captivating mounts.
Practice proper skinning and fleshing techniques. Start with smaller animals to hone your skills before moving on to larger specimens. Learning how to remove the skin cleanly and effectively is fundamental.
Expect challenges along the way and develop your problem-solving skills. Taxidermy often presents unexpected issues, such as repairing damaged skin or adjusting poses.
Seek feedback and critique from experienced taxidermists or mentors. Constructive criticism can provide insights that help you refine your skills. That way, you’ll be able to enhance your work.
Get the Right Education
Seek out taxidermy classes or workshops offered by reputable institutions or experienced taxidermists. Community colleges and vocational schools might provide valuable programs.
Enroll in programs that have experienced and knowledgeable instructors. These can provide valuable insights, mentorship, and real-world perspectives.
Opt for reputable institutions that have a proven track record. Read reviews.
Check alumni success stories. Assess the curriculum to ensure a comprehensive learning experience. Museum Taxidermy is a great resource for you to consider for this.
Consider programs that offer specializations or elective courses in specific areas of taxidermy. These could include things like bird taxidermy or mammal mounts. Specializing can help you develop expertise in a particular niche.
Understand that taxidermy is an evolving field. Commit to lifelong learning. You’ll need to stay updated on new techniques, materials, and ethical considerations.
Participate in workshops and conferences led by experienced taxidermists. These events offer networking opportunities, hands-on training, and exposure to new techniques and trends.
Look at Licensing
Depending on where you live, you might need specific licenses or permits to become a professional taxidermist.
Begin by researching the licensing and permitting requirements specific to your location. Licensing regulations for taxidermists can vary from one region to another. So, it’s essential to understand the rules in your area.
Reach out to the appropriate local, state, and federal authorities. Ask about the specific licenses and permits needed to practice taxidermy legally. This might include agencies responsible for wildlife conservation, environmental protection, or business licensing.
If you plan to work with protected or endangered species, you might need extra endorsements. Wildlife agencies often regulate the handling and preservation of these animals. That way, they ensure conservation efforts are maintained.
And, if you want to offer taxidermy services commercially, you’ll likely need a business license or permit. Check with your local government to understand the steps to operate your business.
Get Job Experience
Gaining practical job experience is important when you’re to become a taxidermist.
Reach out to local taxidermy studios. Express your interest in learning and gaining experience. Some studios may be open to hiring assistants. Or, they may be willing to offer short-term positions to eager learners.
These roles might include assisting people with experience. You might help with preparing specimens. Or, you might even have to maintain workspaces.
Consider apprenticeships or internships under established taxidermists. These hands-on learning opportunities provide invaluable mentorship.
Offer your taxidermy services on a freelance basis. Collaborate with local artists, hunters, or collectors. Freelancing not only hones your skills. It also builds your portfolio to help you get work in the future.
Don’t Forget to Network
Networking is a powerful tool. It can enhance your journey to becoming a successful taxidermist.
It allows you to connect with fellow taxidermists and enthusiasts. These connections can provide insights. You can also find out about growth opportunities.
Don’t shy away from collaborative opportunities, either. You might find opportunities to work with those that require taxidermy.
Utilize social media, online forums, and networking platforms. Engage in discussions and share your work. You’ll be able to connect with professionals from around the world.
Maintain Your Passion
Staying passionate about taxidermy is essential for your growth and success in this intricate craft.
Always take the time to connect with nature. Immerse yourself in the natural world. Spend time observing animals in their habitats. You can try birdwatching, visiting wildlife sanctuaries, or exploring natural landscapes. This connection can fuel your passion for working with animal specimens.
Establish both short-term and long-term goals for your taxidermy journey. Goals provide direction and purpose. That helps motivate you to continue on this path.
Approach each project with curiosity and a desire to learn. Embrace the challenges that arise. Use them as opportunities to deepen your understanding of the craft.
Embrace the challenges that taxidermy presents. Overcoming difficulties can deepen your connection to the craft. It can instill a sense of accomplishment.
Share Your Craft
Sharing your craft as a taxidermist is a wonderful way to connect with others. You’ll be able to showcase your skills. And you can contribute to the preservation of nature’s beauty.
Create a website, blog, or social media profile dedicated to your taxidermy work. Share photos of your projects. Describe your process. Then, you can engage with followers interested in your craft.
Take high-quality photos of each project you complete. Document the process from start to finish. Highlight the intricate details and techniques you’ve used.
Consider creating video content that showcases your process, techniques, and tips. Videos can offer a more in-depth look at your craft and attract a wider audience.
Write articles about taxidermy techniques, trends, or the intersection of art and science. You can submit these articles to relevant publications. Or, you can share them on your online platforms.
Open up about your journey as a taxidermist. Share the challenges you’ve overcome and your growth. Celebrate the milestones you’ve achieved. Authentic storytelling can resonate with your audience.
How to Become a Taxidermist: Start Today
There are a lot of steps to consider when you’re trying to figure out how to become a taxidermist. Hopefully, you can now get yourself on the right path.
Do you need more career advice? Scroll through a few of our other relevant articles for all the help you need.