How to Become a Tattoo Artist in Tennessee

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Tattoo artists in Tennessee are licensed by the Department of Health.
Tattoo artists in Tennessee are licensed by the Department of Health. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The state of Tennessee licenses tattoo artists to ensure that the public stays healthy when they're getting body art. It isn't as simple as walking into the Department of Health and filling out an application. Tattoo artists need to understand how to use different tattooing tools, as well as sterilization -- it takes time to learn enough to be qualified to pass the state exam. You must be at least 18 to get a Tattoo license in Tennessee. Giving a tattoo without a license is a crime in Tennessee, so get your license before you put needle to skin and start inking.

Take a course in tattoo methods and sterilization. Speak to the studio where you want to do an internship, if you already know of it, to get a recommendation. You can also check out the International School of Body Art for an online course.

Go to your local Department of Health, in person, to apply for that tattooing exam.

Take the exam. After you get a passing score, ask for the Tattoo Apprentice application. Complete the application and pay the $140 fee.

Intern at a licensed Tattoo parlor -- operated by someone with three years of Tattooing experience -- for one year.

Return to the Department of Health and request a Tattoo Operator license. List information about your coursework, internship and experience. Pay the $140 fee to become a licensed Tattoo artist.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider finding a Tattoo parlor willing to take you on as an intern before you start taking classes.

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