Career information


After human taxidermists receive and prepare a cadaver, they open it and assist the specialist in dissection. They make specimens and illustrative material for teaching purposes or collections. For anatomical preparations, which are intended to show the normal appearance, structure, size, etc. of a body part, they remove, for example, a single muscle and free it from fat and skin and preserve it in a solution. They prepare pathologically altered body parts for pathological preparations. In pathology, it is also their goal to determine the cause of death of a sick person who died of natural causes.

Human dissectors work at an institute of anatomy, pathology or forensic medicine. There they assist in the preparation, post-processing, performance and preservation of autopsies. This includes, for example, the removal and preservation of organs.

Human preparators lead a medical-technical team. They draw up duty and assignment plans for the team members and encourage and challenge them. They introduce new employees to their areas of responsibility, train future human dissectors and supervise students during their internships.

Human preparators dispose of tissue and chemicals properly, manage the evidence, and strictly adhere to hygiene and data protection regulations. They also take care of the necessary equipment: they maintain the apparatus, instruments and optical devices. They sharpen knives, clean magnifying glasses and microscopes and carry out incidental work in the institutes.

Human dissectors working in forensic medicine perform autopsies on corpses suspected of having been involved in a homicide. In order to reconstruct the exact cause of death, the dying process and any external influences, they proceed extremely carefully and record individual steps in writing and photographically.

Human taxidermists assist in the examination of cadavers. They remove, prepare and preserve bone parts, tissues and organs. They then prepare the deceased for laying out.

After the post-mortem examination, human taxidermists prepare the deceased for laying out and handing over to the next of kin. If necessary, they embalm deceased persons who are transferred abroad. Occasionally, they accompany relatives to say goodbye in a sensitive manner. In addition, they arrange open formalities with the relatives, clinics, funeral homes and authorities.


Federally approved examination regulations dated 4.7.2011

Exam preparation
The qualifications required for the examination are usually acquired autodidactically. The examination regulations and guidelines are available from the Verband Schweiz. Human Preparators VSHP.

Training courses
The practical and theoretical training takes place at the institute where the human preparator is employed.

3 years, with 100% employment

Examined subjects
Autopsy and preparation (e.g. receiving a corpse, preserving individual organs), professional skills (e.g. apparatus / instrument maintenance), chemical skills (e.g. solutions for preparation purposes), commercial / computer skills (e.g. corpse bookkeeping, statistics), law / accident prevention (e.g. health law, duty to report, duty of confidentiality), general technical skills (e.g. anatomy, physiology, coffining)

Depending on the specialty of the examined person's place of work (anatomy, pathology or forensic medicine), the examination material may vary.

"Human taxidermist with federal certificate".

Required at the start of the examination:

  • Completion of at least 3 years of basic vocational training or equivalent qualification
  • At least 3 years of practice as a human taxidermist in Switzerland, with a 100% workload or
  • At least 6 years of professional experience as a human taxidermist in Switzerland with a 100% workload.
  • Proof of at least 150 autopsies performed or 150 course cadavers in anatomy
  • At least 2 weeks of practical training in an external company and cooperation with a taxidermist with a federal certificate of competence.


  • Courses offered by the Swiss Association of Human Preparators VSHP, the Association of German Preparators VDP and other foreign associations as well as institutes in Switzerland and abroad.
  • Further training in the three specialist areas of anatomy, pathology and forensic medicine is largely self-study.

Professional conditions

  • Approximately 70 human taxidermists work in Swiss institutes. The demand tends to decrease. There are only a few training positions and jobs available. Depending on the place of work, working hours can be irregular or require weekend and holiday work.
  • Trained specialists also take on management tasks and train employees who report to them.
  • The profession requires a very precise way of working, dexterous hands, mental and physical resilience as well as discretion.
 Frank Azzalini
Frank Azzalini

President of the Board of Examiners