How To Become A Tattooist
Tattooists are artists - the only difference between tatooists and other artists is that they donít do it in clay or on canvas or paper, but on human skin. Sometimes called body artists, tattooists create and apply permanent images onto a clientís body, using needles and special ink to draw pictures, symbols and bespoke designs.
To be a tattooist you will need to be good at drawing and painting, with an eye for design and excellent eye-to-hand coordination. You should also have good people skills and be able to advise and reassure clients who may be unsure about what kind of tattoo they want.
Tattooists must have high standards of hygiene and be able to follow basic health and safety procedures.
No formal qualifications are required although it will help to have GCESs (Level 2) in maths and English as well as qualifications in art, illustration or graphic design.
It is not unusual for tattoo artists to come from an art or design background, and many have previously studied for a degree in a related subject, such as graphic design or illustration. The most common route into this career is to begin as an apprentice, working for a registered tattooist as a trainee. To be accepted as an apprentice you should be able to present a portfolio of your designs and art work. You will also need to be registered with your local Environmental Health Department and will usually need to purchase your own tattooing and hygiene equipment.
Average Working Hours Per Week = 35-45 hours a week
Common Working Pattern
Time Taken To Qualify
up to five years
What Next/Career Development
With the right experience you could start your own business, or develop your skills in a related area, such as body piercing.
Facts And Figures
It is illegal to work as a tattooist without being registered by your local Environmental Health Department.*
Tattoo artists should be vaccinated against hepatitis.*
49% of 18-29 year olds in the US have a tattoo, compared to 21% of 18-29 year olds with tattoos in the UK.**
(Source: * National Careers Service. ** Tattoo Club of Great Britain)