Taxidermist

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Animal artist

Taxidermists preserve mammals, birds, reptiles and fish for display in museums or private collections.

Salary range: Variable

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How to become a taxidermist

You can get into this job through:

  • working towards this role
  • specialist training courses
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Work

You could start as an assistant by finding a taxidermist who is willing to take you on and train you. You’ll need an interest in taxidermy and some artistic ability.

It may also be possible to work as a customer service assistant in a larger workshop, dealing with enquiries and booking appointments. You would then train while working to get the skills and knowledge needed to qualify.

Other routes

You could do an introductory course in taxidermy, offered by qualified members of the Guild of Taxidermists.

This would be a good way to learn more about the job and to meet people in the industry, which could lead to a trainee position.

More information

Career tips

You may find it helpful to have experience or qualifications in biology, anatomy or art and design.

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Guild of Taxidermists for professional development and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a taxidermist from Creative Choices and the Guild of Taxidermists

You can find out more about creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work on your own
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

Taxidermy is governed by strict regulations, covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • keeping accurate notes about an animal’s death
  • using hand and power tools to remove the animal’s skin and skull
  • making artificial parts like eyes, beaks, and fish scales
  • building the interior support frame using wood, metal or plastic
  • reconstructing the animal to create a lifelike model
  • building a mount or natural backdrop for the display
  • keeping up to date with UK legislation on the use of dead animals

Working environment

You could work in a creative studio, in a workshop or in a museum.

Your working environment may be cramped and involve using chemicals.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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Career path and progression

You could lead a team of taxidermists in a museum or offer workshops for taxidermy amateurs and professionals.

If you’re self-employed, you could sell your own work or offer a repairs and restoration service. You could also hire out models to the props department of a film, TV or theatre production.

As your experience grows, you could become a master taxidermist and get specialist commissions.