Tattoo Artist

🤔 What does a Tattoo Artist do?

Do you want to be an artist that uses the human body as your canvas? If you’re good at drawing, have a free spirit, and like tattoos, you could consider becoming a tattoo artist.

💸 Tattoo Artist salary and job market

💵  Entry Salary


💵  Senior Salary


🙎 What it's like to be a Tattoo Artist

The most important part of becoming a tattoo artist is continually improving your drawing skills. The more styles and mediums you’re comfortable with, the better of a tattoo artist you’ll be. 

If you can draw well, you’ll need to finish high school or get a GED (no college required), although some tattoo artists take art classes or get an art degree or certificate to improve their technique. Business classes can be helpful as well for when you start working as a licensed artist.

As you draw, you’ll want to start building a portfolio that showcases your best work. You’ll use that portfolio to try and get an apprenticeship with an established tattoo artist, which will last for 6-12 months. 

These internships are generally unpaid, so you’ll likely need to work another job during this period. During the internship, you’ll do a lot of drawing, and may be allowed to practice tattooing yourself.

After you’ve completed the required number of apprenticeship hours, you’ll submit an application to become a licensed tattoo artist in the state you live in. Once you have a license, you’ll need to purchase your own tattoo equipment, then begin looking for jobs.

Work hard, network with other tattoo artists, and after 3-5 years of experience, you can consider opening your own shop.

Tattoo artists typically charge by the tattoo, but what they make works out to a very high hourly wage of around $100/hour. When you start out you won’t be able to charge that much, and you won’t have a lot of clients.

As you gain experience and clients, however, your earnings will grow. Talented tattoo artists are often booked months or even years in advance, and can set their own prices.