How to Become a Tattoo Artist in the US

Kat von Steve tattoo girl

Although tattoos were a sign of heritage and authority in ancient times, today they’re very much a mark of beauty and creativity. Tattoo artists are the professionals who are responsible for applying the tattoos on a client’s skin. If you are creative, and you desire to work with people, then this could be the right job for you.

See Also: Will Your Tattoo Sink Your Career?

1. What Do Tattoo Artists Do?

Their duties include:

  • Cleaning and sterilizing tattoo machines and equipment
  • Generating ideas of tattoo designs
  • Meeting with clients to discuss their tattoo desires and explain tattoo procedures
  • Using tattoo machines and ink to apply bespoke or premade designs on the client’s skin
  • Closely following health and safety procedures
  • Educating clients about tattoo care
  • Safely removing unwanted tattoos
  • Ensuring compliance to relevant tattooing and body piercing (body art) regulations.

2. Work Environment

Tattoo artists usually work between 35 to 40 hours a week, including evenings and weekends. While at work, they spend their time in tattoo studios with clean, comfortable and relaxed environments. When tattooing, they may wear gloves to avoid coming into contact with bodily fluids.

Generally, this profession requires individuals who can maintain a good level of personal hygiene.

3. Salary

The annual average salary for tattoo artists is $30,572, according to PayScale.

4. Entry Requirements

Although there are no set entry requirements for this career, you need to learn tattooing techniques. The best way to do this is to find a tattoo apprenticeship at a large body art studio. Once you are accepted, you will learn the trade from experienced artists for a period of up to five years.

Alternatively, you can join a private tattooing academy, such as the Master Tattoo Institute in Miami, and complete a training program. Some of the concepts you will learn include:

  • Inks, designs and styles
  • Color mixing and theory
  • Tattooing safety practices
  • Tattoo ethics
  • Client care
  • Sterilization practices.

The body art profession is increasingly becoming regulated, so you must check your state’s licensing requirements once you complete training. New York, Oregon and Washington are some of the states that issue tattoo artist licenses. Although licensing requirements vary by state, you will generally need to complete a short course and pass a blood test.

5. Important Qualities

Besides the training, you need to possess the following skills:

  • Strong drawing skills
  • Steady eye-hand coordination
  • Dexterity skills
  • Artistic and creative skills
  • Technical and practical skills
  • Visualization skills to turn clients’ ideas into reality
  • Interpersonal skills
  • A love for alternative cultures
  • A keen attention to details

6. Career Development

After getting hired, strive to create impressive tattoo designs. This will increase your reputation, as well as your chances of getting a job with better compensation packages.

You should also join the Association of Professional Tattoo Artists or the Tattoo Artists’ Guild to access training events and other useful professional development resources.

7. Job Opportunities

The employers of tattoo artists include:

  • Body art studios
  • Tattoo shops

With vast experience and good supervisory skills, you can advance to become a studio or shop manager, or you could venture into self-employment and launch your own tattoo shop.

See Also: Are Tattoos Still Taboo in the Workplace?

20 percent discount
20 percent discount

According to IBISWorld, a US-based market research company, the surging demand for customized tattoo designs will drive revenue and employment growth in the industry.

So, if you are creative and you have the technical ability to create clear and accurate tattoos, then this could be the best job for you.




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