Taxidermists preserve mammals, birds, reptiles and fish for display in museums or private collections.Job Category:
What you will do:
As part of your day-to-day duties, you may:
- keep accurate notes about an animal’s death
- use hand and power tools to remove the animal’s skin and skull
- make artificial parts like eyes, beaks, and fish scales
- build the interior support frame using wood, metal or plastic
- reconstruct the animal to create a lifelike model
- build a mount or natural backdrop for the display
- keep up to date with UK legislation on the use of dead animals
- knowledge of the fine arts
- design skills and knowledge
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
As well as:
- the ability to work well with your hands
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work on your own
- persistence and determination (drive)
- the ability to sell products and services
- customer service skills
- organisational skills
You can get into this job through:
- working towards this role
- specialist training courses
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.
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.
You may find it helpful to have experience or qualifications in biology, anatomy or art and design.
UK 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.
Working Hours and 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.
Career Path & 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.