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Taxidermy Classes: Online Taxidermy Schools and Courses

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a taxidermist can complete formal training at one of several taxidermy schools in the United States, or attend taxidermy schools online. Taxidermy schools provide hands-on training in the field of woodworking, carpentry, sculpture making and drawing so that students can create realistic-looking replicas and gameheads of animals, fish and birds. Since taxidermy is such a specialized field, students need to complete intense training sessions and learn several unique techniques.

What to Expect at Taxidermy School

Taxidermy schools offers a wide range of classes and hands-on training workshop so that the student learns how to create life-size mounts and habitat scenes using specialized tools and materials. Students learn how to perform specialized techniques and processes including preparing capes, tanning formulas and methods, making molds, setting eyes and preparing different forms for mounting.

The primary reason to attend a taxidermy school is to learn basic taxidermy skills to be proficient at commercial tanning, habitat construction and in performing mounting services. Taxidermists study animals in the wild and in captivity to learn how they look and move, and then render models of animals, birds and fish by reconstructing the flesh and bones of deceased animals. Taxidermists are trained to sculpt a model using the animal's body as a reference, and may use specialized wiring, special modeling materials and paints to recreate the animal's flesh. Taxidermists are also involved with creating realistic-looking habitats and wildlife scenes where the animals are positioned and mounted.

Skills Needed for a Successful Taxidermy Career

Individuals interested in pursuing a taxidermy career must possess certain skills and characteristics. These include:

  • Manual dexterity
  • Resourcefulness
  • Eye for detail
  • Artistic skill
  • Natural interest in nature and wildlife

Programs at Taxidermy School

Different taxidermy schools offer different types of curriculum and course programs. Course programs available at taxidermy schools may include:

  • Big Game Program
  • Bird Taxidermy
  • Fish Taxidermy
  • Advanced Habitat Construction
  • Tanning Courses
  • Repair and Restoration
  • Floor and Wall Coverings

Types of Taxidermy Classes

Taxidermy schools across the country cover training modules in the field of skinning and processing, mounting, finishing, sewing, skin preparation, handling and painting. Taxidermy courses cover several techniques and procedures to produce a professional-grade level of work. Some of the most common types of classes available at taxidermy schools include:

  • Molding and Casting
  • Deer Mounting
  • Business Taxidermy
  • Strutting Turkey
  • Basic Computer Courses
  • Fish Painting
  • Habitat Design

Supplies and materials costs are typically included in the cost of tuition at taxidermy school, but some courses and workshops may require students to pay an extra fee for materials. Students attending a brick-and-mortar taxidermy school receive hands-on training by a professional instructor and may have the opportunity to attend seminars, workshops and special presentations throughout their school year.

Attending Taxidermy Schools Online

Online taxidermy schools offer video and online training materials for students that want to complete their course requirements from a distance. These programs are designed by taxidermy professionals and provide step-by-step instructions for students that want to learn key techniques, methods and processes in the field. Online taxidermy programs train students to perform the following processes:

  • Choosing a bird or animal
  • Skinning materials
  • Skinning preparation
  • Leg and tail removal
  • Neck removal
  • Fleshing and degreasing
  • Repairing damage
  • Choosing a bird or animal
  • Skull rebuilding
  • Wiring the skin
  • Mount attachment
  • Filling the head
  • Setting the feathers or skin
  • Finishing techniques
  • Painting the mount

Online training programs typically involve video instruction and online lectures so that students can watch and learn about all of the key techniques without face-to-face interaction with an instructor. After completing the program, students may be required to complete a project from start to finish and submit it for review, or take pictures of it and have it graded by an online professor.

Career Options After Taxidermy School

After completing training at a taxidermy school, students can join a number of professional organizations and trade associations related to their field. These include the:

  • National Taxidermists Association
  • United Taxidermist Association
  • Canadian Taxidermy Association
  • European Taxidermy Federation
  • State-sponsored Taxidermist Associations

Most professionally-trained taxidermists work in museums, ecological centers, nature preserves or with a team of archaeologist and paleontologists for various assignments. Individuals who have completed taxidermy training may also start their own business and offer services independently. Taxidermists typically work in well-equipped workshops and use a variety of specialized tools, building materials, chemical-laden products and compounds to create realistic looking models.

According to salary survey summary data by SalaryExpert.com, the average salary for professional taxidermists ranges between $38,000 to $45,000+ depending on the city and state. Individuals with several years of experience can command higher salaries.

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