||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 might make just $10,000 - $20,000 per year, while a devoted full time taxidermist can very easily make $40,000 - $50,000 per year. If your business grows to where you need to hire employees, you can make over $100K annually. 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 double what the other one makes. 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!
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 did taxidermy as a hobby then tried progressing into commercial taxidermy. Usually, they learned from books, videos, or a friend. In most of these cases, it was 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 of course 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!
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?
Our course is tough, and 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. The only prerequisite you need, is a sincere desire to learn and a willingness to work. If you are still not comfortable committing to our course, you may want to consider one of the longer term courses that some of the other taxidermy schools offer. We are familiar with many of these schools, as the owner/ instructors of at least 4 of them are former students of ours. We would be happy to recommend one of them to you upon request.
7. I am concerned about only doing two gameheads. Will this prepare me properly for a business that consists mainly of gamehead taxidermy?
This is no reason for this concern. The most important procedures you will learn in gamehead mounting, are taxidermy techniques used for the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. You will be practicing these same procedures not only on your gamehead, but on your lifesize and rug mount as well. You will actually be mounting and finishing a total of four heads. The fact that they are not all 'shoulder mounts', will not matter. The fact that one of your mammals has a full body attached and another one is a rug, only serves to provide the additional training, not take it away!
We have carefully perfected our curriculum, and the plain truth is that in six weeks time you simply cannot mount more specimens and expect the same exceptional results. For both gameheads you mount, you will use every advanced technique available. We could follow the more popular trend of pushing through 3 or more gameheads, but that is not how we operate. We have always believed in quality over quantity, and we guarantee that our training program will provide you with knowledge and skills that are superior to many of your competitors!
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 recently added a Job Listings page to 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. Also, we have just started this service as of June/2008, so it will take awhile for the listings to build up. 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 more training in tanning. Is it possible to work this in?
As explained on our Course Details page, we do not have time to focus extra attention on tanning. Tanning is not so difficult that you need to repeat it over and over in order to get it right. The tanning project we complete will be sufficient training for those times in your business when you want to get something tanned up quick for a rush job. For large scale tanning, it is preferable to purchase equipment that can handle many pieces at once. This is the difference between our tanning instruction, and the instruction provided at tanning schools geared to prepare you for work in a tannery. When doing just one piece here and there, it is easy to tan without the use of expensive equipment. 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. Please keep in mind that most of our students changed their mind about doing their own tanning right after their very first tanning project. 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!