Taxidermy as a Career
Making Money in Taxidermy
We are often asked, “How much money can I make as a taxidermist?” We will attempt to answer that question thoroughly. Only then can you truly decide if attending a taxidermy school is right for you. Choosing Taxidermy as a Career could be one of the best decisions you ever made. But the question remains. Can YOU make money in taxidermy?
Short Answer: If you are lazy, (and we’re being honest here)…you won’t make a lot of money, no matter where you live or what the economy is like. If however, you live in an area with good hunting or fishing, and If you are self motivated, taxidermy can be extremely lucrative!
Long Answer: In ideal conditions, a motivated taxidermist can possibly earn up to $10,000 per month during their busy months, and average over $5000 per month over a 12 month period. Taxidermists earn a living through a wide variety of projects, including shoulder mounts (gameheads), rugs, lifesize mounts, birds, fish, antler plaques, European mounts, etc. Although some taxidermists service areas with lot of fishing and/or bird hunting, most taxidermy businesses make the bulk of their income through gameheads, so that will be used as our example. Taxidermists vary in what they charge for gameheads, depending on what part of the country they live in, local economy, and of course quality of the taxidermists’ work.
Two types of Taxidermists:
A taxidermist who takes a lot of shortcuts will most likely be at the lower end of the price scale. Examples of such shortcuts include neglecting to properly flesh the hide after skinning, simply slapping on some dry tanning powder, and neglecting to take the cartilage out of the ears. The result is a cheap mount that does NOT look good as it ages. Ears shrink & curl, lips separate, noses shrivel, the hide pulls away from the form, and one year can make a poorly mounted deer look ancient. These types of taxidermists will have a tough time making money in taxidermy.
On the other side of the coin are taxidermists who spend a little more time and a few more dollars on each shoulder mount, resulting in a product that will stand the test of time. And a select few taxidermists (us included), will guarantee their work for life. Of course, the techniques you learn in class will also allow you to guarantee your taxidermy work for life.
So depending some of the above factors, average customer prices for a deer/antelope size shoulder mount range anywhere from around $495, to $700 each. To do the numbers and see just how much you can make on gameheads, let’s head towards the lower end of the scale and say you only charge around $525.00 for each deer. Your own costs will average around $75 for the mannikin, $25 for eyes/ears, $45 for tanning, and about $20 for other supplies such as hide paste, T-pins, mache, etc. This totals a cost of $165 per deer, which leaves a net profit (before overhead) of $360 per deer.
Once you have a year or two under your belt, it is pretty easy to bring in at least 75 deer per year, although those numbers can also happen sooner. That is a very low estimate, as many established taxidermy businesses bring in hundreds of deer per season. But in keeping with
our conservative estimate of 75 deer gameheads per year, you are looking at a NET profit of $27,000 just for deer alone. And remember, you will also have birds, fish, fox, coyote, raccoon, lions, elk, moose, and many other species too numerous to list. You can expect to make at least the same (and likely higher) profit margin on the other species you will be mounting. Your own costs for mounting birds and fish for example, are significantly lower than gameheads, and this results in an even higher profit margin.
Getting back to the deer though, let’s talk about your time expended and profit per hour. Although each gamehead will go through a variety of stages in the mounting process, the combined time involved is usually about 1 full day per shoulder mount. This means that for each deer mounted you are looking at a profit of $360 per day, or $45 per hour. At $45 per hour, a motivated taxidermist who takes just a little time to market themselves properly can make over $10,000 during the busiest mounting months in pre-overhead net profit. And remember, fish and birds can bring in even more in terms of hourly earnings! Of course the overhead needs to be taken into consideration. You will have expenses for utilities, office supplies, insurance, and advertising, etc. If you pay rent or a mortgage for your shop building, that monthly payment must be factored in as well. Those expenses are easy to total up and subtract from the monthly earnings given above. As you can see, your profits are still quite lucrative!
When making your decision on whether or not our school is right for you, remember this; At ATTC we guarantee our customer work for life, and we teach you to do the same. We teach you enjoyable ways to market yourself. Our marketing strategies work for everyone, even non-assertive types! Learning taxidermy in six weeks is well worth the time and tuition when you consider the long term payoff. Compared to a conventional college education that may or may not get you a good paying job, attending a taxidermy school simply makes sense for anyone who loves hunting, fishing, and wildlife!
Finally, we encourage you to call us any time with any questions you have about taxidermy as a career.
We appreciate your interest in our training.
If you are serious about making money in taxidermy, please take the time to browse this site during your busy search for taxidermy schools!