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Tattooist Body artist

Tattooists create permanent artwork on their clients' bodies.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 30 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship. You could arrange this by approaching local registered tattooists to ask if they will take you on as a trainee. 

You will be expected to show you have a real interest in tattooing and that you have artistic ability. Developing a portfolio of your artwork and design ideas can be a good way to showcase your talents.

You must register with the local council for a tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence, for both yourself and your premises. It’s illegal to work as a tattooist without being registered.

You should also be prepared to be vaccinated against hepatitis.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a flair for art and design
  • excellent attention to detail
  • the patience and concentration to deal with long tattoo sessions
  • good hand-eye coordination and a steady hand
  • high standards of cleanliness and constant awareness of the need for hygiene
  • good communication and customer service skills

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • advising clients on suitable tattoos
  • making sure the chosen design is exactly what the client wants
  • checking that clients understand that the tattoo is permanent
  • copying the chosen design onto the customer’s skin, either by drawing freehand or using a transfer
  • following the design lines with an electrically-operated needle, which injects ink under the skin
  • making sure all equipment is sterilised and clean, and following strict hygiene and health and safety procedures
You may also spend time researching artwork, creating new designs and developing a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills to potential customers.

You’ll usually create your artwork using traditional hand drawing techniques, or computer packages like Adobe Illustrator.

4. Salary

Earnings depend on your personal talent and ability, your reputation and the reputation of your studio.

Some studios pay commission based on the number of tattoos you do.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work a 5 or 6 day week, including Saturdays.

Studio hours are usually 9am to 5pm, but you may schedule your work into short sessions during the day because of the level of concentration and attention to detail you need.

6. Career path and progression

You could open your own tattoo studio.

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Last updated: 09 December 2016