How to Get a Tattoo License

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Things You'll Need

  • CPR certification

  • First aid certification

  • Practical/written exam

  • Documentation of apprenticeship

  • Tattoo art portfolio

Tattooing is becoming a popular business, and becoming a licensed tattoo artist can be a great career move for the artistically inclined. Tattooing rules vary in the United States, depending on your age, education level, certifications, and which state you'll be practicing in. There are some basic guidelines that can help you navigate the path toward obtaining your tattoo license.


Obtain Your Certifications and Requirements

Step 1

You will most likely need to be certified in performing first aid and CPR. You can obtain certification in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) through the American Heart Association (AHA).

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Step 2

The AHA also offers a Heartsaver First Aid Online Course, composed of an online section and a hands-on session with an AHA-approved first aid instructor. At the end of the Heartsaver First Aid Course you will be awarded a completion card.

Step 3

Completing your tattoo art portfolio is a good way to catalog your creations, and will be useful when applying for apprenticeships and your license. Buy a portfolio that will accommodate your largest drawings and paintings, then organize the art you would like to showcase. Watermark or sign all of your work, and make sure all of it is accounted for.


Step 4

Obtaining a tattoo apprenticeship can often be expensive and time-consuming, making it one of the hardest steps in getting a tattoo license. Walking into your local tattoo parlors to ask if they are taking apprentices is usually the most efficient way to access an apprenticeship. Remember to bring your portfolio and your CPR and first aid certifications.


Step 5

The final step to getting your tattoo license may be to take a written exam, usually as part of meeting the requirements set by the health department. The license fee and exam given can vary from state to state.


Some tattoo parlors require employees to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. You may also have to be 18 or older to get your license, though again, this depends on the state you want to practice in and the parlor you want to work for.


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