How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make?

If you are a very creative person, who is a skilled artist, then you could transfer those skills to become a tattoo artist. Tattooing is one of the world’s oldest professions, being part of a range of cultures.

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make?
How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make? 6

Today, tattoos are more widely accepted in workplaces, as a means of personal expression. As a result, there is a high demand for tattoo artists. 

If you’re thinking of making a career change and trying this exciting and creative role for yourself, then you may be wondering how much tattoo artists make, what their responsibilities are, and how to become one for yourself! We can answer these questions for you. 

Role & Responsibilities Of A Tattoo Artist

A tattoo artist is someone who is very skilled at creating unique artwork, and is trained in using tattoo needles and equipment in order to inject ink and pigment under the skin through sanitized, hygienic practices.

A tattoo artist may work within a tattoo shop or studio, they may own their own studio, or they may work privately for clients and for larger companies. 

The basic role and responsibility of a tattoo artist is to adapt and understand a client’s requests, accommodate the client’s needs, offer advice on placement, shape, color, and design of the tattoo, while also providing aftercare advice.

One of the most important roles of a tattoo artist is to ensure that clients are tattooed in a safe, clean and hygienic manner, along with creating and sketching out tattoo designs.

Tattoo artists will also need to book appointments, run their calendars and schedules, and book consultations for their clients. 

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make?

In the United States, tattoo artists make an average salary of $59,551 per year. At the lowest end of the spectrum, new tattoo artists can make around $29,992 per year, and at the highest end of the scale, tattoo artists can make over $118,245 per year, according to Indeed. 

Other sites such as Zippia claim that the average salary of a tattoo artist sits at around $51,867 per year, or around $25 per hour in the US. The highest paying state for tattoo artists is also Pennsylvania, with the highest paying city being New York. 

How much a tattoo artist makes depends on the location of the studio, and the clientele of the artist. More experienced and well known artists can make much more money, charging for the drawing of the design, the consultation, and the tattoo itself.

In addition, many tattoo artists will charge by the hour, as you are paying for the artist’s time to complete the tattoo, rather than the tattoo itself.

Prices may vary depending on the size, the detail, the color, and the placement of the tattoo. Some artists may also charge a flat rate by the tattoo piece. 

Do Tattoo Artists Earn A Salary?

Do Tattoo Artists Earn A Salary?
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Tattoo artists may earn a salary depending on their place of employment. If a tattoo artist owns their own private studio, then they may just earn per tattoo depending on how they charge their clients. 

However, if a tattoo artist works as part of a tattoo shop or studio with multiple artists, and an owner, then they may earn a salary instead. This also depends on the experience level and certifications that the tattoo artist has. 

Can Tattooing Be A Career?

Tattooing can be a good career, as there is high demand for tattoo artists. Jobs are available nationally and internationally, as tattoos are highly valued and popular all over the world.

Artists can choose to be self-employed or employed by someone else, and can either work flexible hours, or work as a tattoo artist full time.

Tattooing takes many years to perfect, as you have to be a great artist. This takes a lot of practice in order to hone those creative and artistic skills. In addition, this field is very competitive, so it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. 

That being said, if you do practice and design tattoos often, and can market yourself well, you can gain a loyal clientele that will return time and time again, and will refer you to other clients, making for a very lucrative tattoo business. 

How To Become A Tattoo Artist

How To Become A Tattoo Artist
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You can become a tattoo artist in many ways. There is no degree required, but it will help you become successful if you are trained in art, or have an art-related degree level education. 

You can then try to gain a tattoo apprenticeship from a tattoo studio, where you will learn how to tattoo fruits, animal skins, and then go onto human skin.

However, we recommend joining a tattoo school, and earning a certification. This is because many states require this experience in order to become licensed as a tattoo artist. 

Then, you can gain an apprenticeship where you can practice and hone your skills. With some apprenticeships, you may be guaranteed a job with that studio once you qualify.

After a lot of practice, and you may be required to do free tattoos until you are fully qualified in order to learn, then you can become licensed. 

In order to become licensed, you will need a OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Certification for Tattoo Artists, documentation of apprenticeship, tattoo art portfolio, undergo a practical or written examination, and you may need to gain a CPR Certification and First Aid Certification. 

Tattoo certification requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to check out the rules and regulations in your location. In most cases, the final step is to take the licensing examination, and pay the fee. 


To summarize, a tattoo artist is someone who applies pigment and ink under the skin with a needle in order to create permanent art on the body.

Tattoo artists are very highly skilled and trained in order to practice. However, after a lot of experience, tattoo artists can make upwards of $59,551 per year on average. 

If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post, ‘How Much Do Plumbers Make?‘.

Jason Sullivan
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