Tattoo Artist Jobs
By Eric Hammer
Tattoo artist jobs are not easy to come by. That's because
in addition to getting licensed, you usually must also find a
professional tattoo artist who is willing to take you under his
or her wing and make you an apprentice.
The concept of being an apprentice is one that used to be
commonplace. Almost every job you can think of that existed as
of 150 years ago required a student to learn from a master in
the field and to spend his (most women at the time didn't work)
time learning one on one from a master in the field. Today, while
most people no longer learn in formal apprenticeships, tattoo
artist jobs are some of the very few that still do require it.
The catch of course is finding a professional, licensed tattoo
artist who is willing to be your tutor. There is a lot of competition
for the best tattoo artists to take on apprentices and you need
to be persistent, patient and above all, already good at drawing
in order to get in with them.
That last part is the most important part of tattooing by
the way. While everything else can be learned, if you are not
an artistic person, it's really hard to become a tattoo artist.
How Much Can You Make?
The salary range for tattoo artist jobs is quite wide. It
ranges from about $24,231 - $76,302 per year, depending largely
on your skill with a tattoo needle. However, it's important to
realize that during the time you take your apprenticeship, you
will most likely not be earning a living. Most tattoo artists
who take on apprentices don't pay anything or pay a minimal amount
in order to comply with the law. The theory is that you are learning
the trade and so you are getting "paid" in the form
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Keep in mind that there is much more to being a tattoo artist
than just picking up a needle. Besides learning how to clean
(and possibly make) the needles, you also need to become expert
at hygiene as tattooing requires an extremely clean space to
work in (you are after all, performing a kind of surgery when
you do it).
Keep in mind also that you shouldn't expect to be drawing
pictures on client's skin right away. Apprentices, like interns
in offices are often given the grunt work that no one else wants,
like cleaning up and arranging supplies.
Eventually, if you prove yourself as someone who really is
interested in learning and you don't complain and accept that
it will take time, your master tattoo artist will show you how
to use the needles. You will probably be asked to start out practicing
on animal hides or pieces of fruit before you are allowed to
touch a client and even when you get to work on a client, you'll
be given some basic jobs, like creating shadows and the like
before you graduate to doing full body work.
Qualifications / Requirements
In order to become fully licensed, you will need to take an
exam administered by your state and, in many states, you will
be required to take an apprenticeship with a professional tattoo
artist which can last as long as three years (though most are
around a year or so). Once you are licensed, you can work for
someone else or start your own studio, though few people start
out right away with their own studio. You need to develop a following
of your own first and then strike out with your own business.
You should prepare a portfolio of your art work before you
approach any tattoo artists to try to get an apprenticeship.
Generally, it's a good idea to talk to lots of tattoo artists
and to ask to sit and watch so you can learn the business. Once
you have some more knowledge, you can show your portfolio of
work. If the artist likes what he or she sees, you may be taken
on as an apprentice.
Check out these helpful resources to find out more about tattoo
How to Tattoo - This is a very good web site
which offers a wealth of advice on becoming a tattoo artist and
also offers to sell you tattoo supplies. Be careful with the
supplies though. If you don't know what you are doing, you can
cause serious infections on yourself or your friends who you
Only Tattoo School - They're not really the world's only
tattoo school. There are a handful of others available, though
most people still learn through apprenticeships rather than a