How to Become A Tattoo Artist

How to Become a Tattoo Artist

Tattooing is an old art which involves body modifications with the use of permanent ink embedded in the skin to create different images and designs. Tattoo artists know how to apply and design tattoos with specialized needles to all the areas of a client’s body. This profession requires a lot of patience and technique. Since every client has a different requirement, some sittings take longer hours to create the required tattoo. These professionals are also required to work in evenings and on weekends as well.

Should I Become a Tattoo Artist?

If you like the idea of creating art on a human body, then becoming a tattoo artist might just be the thing for you. The following table summarizes the career of a tattoo artist.

Education Required

Not Required

Major Requirement

Not Required


License is required in most states; voluntary certificates are also available


3 years of apprenticeship

Key Skills

Communication skills, Creativity, Artistic ability, Patience, Tact

Annual Mean Salary (2019)

$67,750 (Artists and Related Workers, All Other)

Job Outlook (2018-2028)

1% (Little or no change) – (Craft and Fine Artists)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook

Tattoo artists are part of the art industry and their growth depends on the economy and whether people are willing to spend money on buying art or not. Some traditional opportunities are projected to decline while some new jobs are making their way. It is not mandatory for tattoo artists to have a degree; however, they are supposed to be licensed. These artists are expected to have excellent communication skills. They should be able to understand the requirements of their customers and execute them properly. Some clients expect tattoo artists to suggest designs as well. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, all artists were paid an annual mean salary of $67,750 in 2019.

How to Become a Tattoo artist?

  1. Compile Your Portfolio

Tattoo artists are expected to have creativity and great artistic ability. Before they can become a part of an apprenticeship program, they need to have a portfolio consisting of their best works. The portfolio should demonstrate their mastery on the skill and their ability to create new designs. It can have original works or high-quality photographs or drawings.

Taking art classes in community centers or high school can be of a lot of help for aspiring tattoo artists.

  1. Complete an Apprenticeships

The Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT) recommends at least three years of apprenticeships to all aspiring tattoo artists. During this program, these candidates have to work with a professional tattoo artist who will be helping them learn tattoo designs, operating tattoo machines and sterilizing equipment. These programs may also include tips and techniques to start a business. Apprentices have to pay the instructor or have to agree to work for them after the program is completed. They sign a contract beforehand.

  1. Education Courses

The skills required to become a tattoo artist are learned during an apprenticeship program but the state requires classroom experience as well. Courses in skin diseases and infection, disease prevention and training in blood borne pathogen infection may be a requirement.

  1. Licensure

In most states it is mandatory to have a license; however, the requirements differ.

  1. Continuing Education

In some states, it is mandatory for tattoo artists to complete a specific number of continuing education credits to get their licenses renewed. They are available in the form of classes and seminars.

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