How to become a licensed tattoo artist

Written by ehow contributor
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The popularity of tattoos is growing, and the art of tattooing is now a lucrative business. If you love to draw, like people and you like "ink," take the plunge and become a licensed tattoo artist. Rules and regulations vary from state to state, but there are a few basic guidelines that can give you an idea of what you need to do to become a licensed tattoo artist.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Investigate the minimum requirements in your state. Some states have a minimum age requirement of eighteen. States may require a high school diploma or GED as well as a practical or written exam. Most states will also require CRP and first aid certificates.

  2. 2

    Find an apprenticeship. To become a licensed tattoo artist you must complete an apprenticeship. Take your art portfolio to all the shops in your area and ask if they are taking apprentices.

  3. 3

    Check out your potential apprenticeship site well before making a decision. Make sure they are clean, know what they are doing and that they will train you in disease prevention and specific techniques. Most states will require documentation proving completion of your apprenticeship and what it included.

  4. 4

    Apply for a license from the local health department. Licensing costs will vary from state to state, and may included application fees, exam fees and the final licensing fee.

Tips and warnings

  • On average, shops charge several thousand dollars for an apprenticeship, however the final price is up to the master tattoo artist.
  • An apprenticeship usually doesn't pay for the first few years, but you may get lucky and find one that pays a little or lets you work to pay off tuition instead of paying up front.
  • Apprenticeships last for two to three years. The first year is usually entails familiarizing yourself with terms, tools and the environment. The second year usually involves practice on grapefruits, leather and eventually your friends. The third year is when you begin working on actual clients, beginning with simple tattoos and working your way up to more difficult imagery.
  • Some states allow you to work under the shop's license, however check with your local health department.

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