||Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should I choose your school, over some of the other taxidermy schools?
This is a very popular question, but in order to honestly evaluate another school's program, we would need to attend that school and gain hands-on knowledge of their curriculum. Likewise, other taxidermy schools cannot truly evaluate ours without this same experience. All we can do is tell you what is good about our school, not what is bad about the others. We are familiar with the instructors of four other schools however, as they are former students and graduates of ours. We are happy to give references for these four instructors upon request. As for our training program, we suggest you study our key pages, which would include this FAQs page, our Home page, our Overview page, and our Courses page, then make your decision. You may also want to contact our references if you're still unsure. Better yet, contact us directly and we will answer all your questions in detail!
2. How much money can I expect to earn as a taxidermist?
It is difficult to say what one will earn in taxidermy, because what you can earn and what you do earn are not always close. An average part time taxidermist who is not very motivated might make just $10,000 - $20,000 per year, while a devoted full time taxidermist can very easily make $100,000+ per year. If your business grows to where you need to hire employees, you can make even more. Here are some of the factors that are involved:
The area you live in is important. Taxidermists in the western states usually do quite well, as customers are used to paying a fair price for good quality taxidermy work. Many of the eastern 'perimeter' states fall into this category also.
The states with lower than normal average taxidermy prices are some of the southern states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, etc. The midwest states are probably about average. There do seem to be certain areas even in the southern & midwest states though, that can command higher prices.
That being said, there are other factors involved also. If you are working another job and can only devote limited time to your business, it will take longer to get it off the ground. If you can go all out from the beginning, you can easily make a nice profit your very first year. Also, how motivated are you? This is a big question, because you can take two taxidermists, with the same taxidermy education, from the same town, and even the same skill level, and one could make more than double or triple what the other one makes. It often comes down to motivation. Also, how much competition will you have, and how much effort will you put into marketing yourself? There are many inexpensive ways to get your name out there, and we do discuss these things during class.
To give you an idea of what is possible, here's our story; We moved to Montana over 20 years ago, and at the time we did not know one person in the entire state. We bought a house, set up shop in June of that year, did some clever inexpensive marketing, competed with many other well established taxidermists, made a nice profit that first year and have done well ever since! Since the methods we used were so successful, we include those in the marketing portion of your training.
And finally, although we can never guarantee the amount of money a person will make in taxidermy, it is certainly possible to make a very comfortable living in this rewarding field!
3. Can I spend extra time after regular class hours for additional taxidermy training?
Many of our students ask about spending extra time after class for additional training. Although we admire this type of enthusiasm, our school does not offer extended training in the evenings, unless we feel it is absolutely necessary. Our taxidermy teaching experience has taught us that it is necessary for students to have their evenings free in order to allow that day's information to sink in, and also to avoid taxidermy 'overload'. Our curriculum is very well balanced, and combines intense hands-on training, with just the right amount of off-time!
4. I see that you teach a pretty comprehensive course, but I just want to do taxidermy as a hobby.
Can I still take your course?
Yes, our course will more than qualify you to do taxidermy as a hobby. We just want to be clear on the differences here. We have taught many students who originally learned from books, videos, etc., then did taxidermy as a hobby. When they tried progressing into commercial taxidermy. it became clear that their methods included many inefficient, outdated procedures, and/or many quality cutting shortcuts. There is a big difference between shortcuts that improve efficiency and shortcuts that just plain cut corners. Our course does not teach shortcuts or outdated techniques that result in an inferior finished product. After completing our course, you will certainly be able to do taxidermy as a hobby. And if you later decide to do taxidermy on a commercial or competition level, you will be more than qualified! Even if you always just do taxidermy as a hobby, your tuition can pay for itself by saving you a lot of money doing your own trophies!
5. You say you teach commercial as well as competition quality taxidermy. What is the difference?
Here is a brief rundown of the differences: Our competition techniques include practices such as using artificial septums in the noses, using a special 'hidden' stitch for short haired animals, using optical membranes & white based eyes, and using official competition score sheets to guide you through the mounting process, to name a few. The techniques we teach for competition mounts are just a little more time consuming and a hair more expensive than those used for commercial mounts, and are geared to please competition judges rather than customers. However, there are some basic procedures that are used across the board, for commercial, as well as competition taxidermy. Furthermore, some of the practices that many taxidermists reserve only for competition mounts are techniques that we routinely use for commercial taxidermy. Therefore, there is not always a clear cut line separating the two. Most customers are not trained to spot the little differences, but they may see that one mount just looks better than another, without knowing why. This fact alone, makes the extra effort worth it! It is good business to point out the little details, and show customers exactly why your mounts look better than your competitors! In our taxidermy business, the combination of commercial & competition techniques we use allow us to guarantee each completed mount for life. You will never see separation of the lips, curling of the ears, or any other sign of aging due to poor workmanship. After completing our course, you will be able to offer the same guarantee.
6. I do not have any experience, and your course sounds pretty tough. Should I take a more basic course first?
Bottom line, have you ever gutted a deer? Have you ever used your hands to make ground beef patties? Or have you ever pulled the innards from a turkey cavity? If you answer yes to any of those, then you have enough experience to take our course. You basically just need to know if you can take getting a bit of blood on your hands without freaking out.
Yes, our training is tough, and of course those with experience may find it easier. However we do start from the beginning, and we actually ask those with experience to try and forget what they have learned so that they will be open to our advanced procedures. In this way you may have an advantage, as you will not have any preconceived notions as far as techniques go. Also, since we limit our class size to six students, you will have plenty of support and supervision.
8. Do you offer any financial aid?
We do not offer government based financial aid, because that type of aid is geared more for long term colleges and universities. You may however, want to contact your local lending institution for assistance. We will be happy to provide them with brochures or any other needed information.
9. Do you offer job placement services?
We include a Job Listings page on our site. Once in awhile we are contacted by a shop owner who is either wanting to fill a taxidermy position, or looking to sell their business. It is difficult to know when these opportunities will present themselves, and even more difficult to keep a current listing of graduates who are looking for a change in employment. So...we have decided that it would be a nice benefit to have these opportunities posted on our website. That way, whether you are looking for work right after graduation, or somewhere down the road, you can always just take a look at the Taxidermy Job Listings page to see what is available. Since job opportunities come from all over the country, it is likely that you would need to consider relocating for many of the posted positions. Listings come and go, and oftentimes there may be none that are current. Please check back often though, as we try to post the positions within 24 hours of receiving the employer's information.
10. I would like to have training in tanning. Is it possible to work this in?
As explained on our Course Details page, we do not focus on tanning. When doing just one piece here and there, it is fairly easy to tan without the use of expensive equipment, and we discuss the types of tanning solutions that will work with your lifetime guarantee. For large scale tanning however, it is preferable to attend a school that can train you in the purchase and use of commercial tanning equipment.
For most taxidermists, it is more cost effective to send their tanning out. For example, a gamehead currently costs us about $45 to have tanned. If we were to spend the time it would take us to tan that item, and do taxidermy work instead, that taxidermy work would earn us FAR more than the $45 we paid for tanning. Of course tanneries have the benefit of lots of expensive equipment, and employees who work in assembly line style. They can make money this way. Sending hides & furs to a tannery is a win/win situation for both the taxidermist and the tannery. This is fortunate, because to put it simply, we prefer to concentrate more on our specialty, which is advanced competition quality taxidermy!
11. If I send in my deposit then have to cancel, can I get my deposit back?
Short answer: NO
Long Answer: As stated on our tuition page, all deposits are nonrefundable. When a student does have to cancel, the following scenario is common;
The student calls us and gives his/her reason for cancelling. Every student who cancels is always under the impression that their reason is valid enough to warrant a refund. Simply put, it would not be fair to refund some deposits, but not others. This is why there are no exceptions to our "no refund" policy. This may sound harsh, but please understand that when you enroll we reserve a spot for you. This means no one else can take your spot. We order specimens and supplies based on our upcoming enrollments. And most importantly, if deposits were refunded every time a person had to cancel, that would contradict the very reason for the deposit.
We realize emergencies do arise however, so here is our compromise; If you have to cancel, we will apply your deposit towards another class (within one year of the original booking) if the following conditions are met:
1. We are able to fill your class to our six student capacity.
2. You send in an additional deposit equal to the original deposit amount.
Both deposit amounts are then credited towards the tuition of the rescheduled class. In the past, we have had students who just kept cancelling, then reapplying the same original deposit to the next class. We have implemented the "additional deposit" policy to prevent this. It is required each time a student switches classes. It is in your best interest to let us know as soon as possible if you have to cancel. This will allow us more time to fill the class, which will satisfy requirement #1 above. In order to reduce class vacancies, there are no exceptions to the above rules.
Bottom line, please be sure of your plans to attend our taxidermy school before you send in your deposit!
12. What can I do in my off time?
A local real estate office in our area has an awesome site, with lots of information/photos on places to explore and things to do in the immediate area. Click HERE to open their site (in a new browser window).