I want a job as a tanner

Tanning is one of the world's oldest industries.

Tanning is the process that turns raw animal hides into the soft, pliable, water resistant material called leather. Tanners receive animal skin from the slaughterhouse after it has been 'cured' and prepared ready for tanning.

There are many stages involved in the tanning process:

  • The underlying layer of the hide is 'split' off and shaved to uniform thickness.
  • The hides are then saturated in the tanning solution. This preserves the hide and adds strength.
  • The hide is tanned again, this time dyes and oils are added to provide colour, softness and durability.
  • The hide is stretched to remove excess moisture.
  • The hide is trimmed
  • The hide is softened mechanically
  • The final colours are sprayed on.
  • Embossing is then done to add texture.

Most Tanners work forty-hours a week in what can be (due to air conditioning etc) noisy factories mainly operating machinery. Pay is an average .21 per hour.

There are many kinds of tanning process and most leathers are tanned by a combination of processes. It mostly involves moving the leather from one bath of solution to another and can take a few weeks to a year to complete the process!

A variety of posts are available for people involved in different aspects of Tanning:

  • Tanning solution makers
    They prepare tannic acid using vegetable tannins
  • operators who check machinery
  • haulers
  • laborers

How do I apply for a job as a tanner?

You can either apply directly to a leather tannery or your school placement office may be able to help you find a job. You may also find jobs advertised in local newspapers, via the state employment office or signs outside their factory.

There are leather tanneries throughout the world. In the USA most of them are in New York where they have 72 establishments engaged in leather tanning and finishing. Other areas with a high concentration of tanneries (more than 10) areMassachusetts, California, Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New Jersey.

What training or qualifications do I need to be a tanner?

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates though there are no specific educational requirements. If you have schooling in machine skills you have a greater chance of being hired. Training is on the job for low skilled porcesses and after gaining experience, you may be taught how to run more complicated machinery.

What are my chances of promotion in a tanning factory?

The prospects for advancement Include being trained on more complicated machinery and promotion to supervisory/management roles.

Employers in the leather industry usually provide benefits that include paid holidays, health insurance, and retirement plans.

For More Information see here:

Leather Industries of America
3050 K St., NW, Ste. 400
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 342-8497
275 Seventh Ave.
New York, NY 10001-6708
(212) 265-7000

Everything you ever wanted to know about tanning!

To actively seek work in this industry check out these boards :

For USA pay scales in the Tannery Industry check out this:
1999 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates
SIC 311 - Leather Tanning and Finishing