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Qualifications and registration requirements for mobile tattoo artists don't differ greatly from stationary tattoo artists, though the process does vary per state. There is no standard registration process for mobile tattoo artists -- usually, you wi'll need to obtain an educational certificate, state licensure and a health department certificate to operate as a legal tattooist. Check with your state's Department of Health and Human Services or similar organization to get on the proper career path.
Enroll in tattoo courses at a certified physical or online institution. These courses encompass subjects such as blood borne pathogens, skin anatomy, Food and Drug Administration guidelines and even ethics. Complete any courses related to mobile tattooing, if offered.
Pass the tattoo artist certification exam offered by your institute. In most cases, you will have to score at least 75 percent on a test to obtain your educational certification.
Undertake an apprenticeship with a licensed, certified tattoo artist. If you can, study under an artist who does mobile work. Create a portfolio and present it to local artists in person. At first, you might be observing and performing menial tasks until working your way up to retouching tattoos and filling outlines. Apprenticeships help legitimize you in the eyes of the state as you seek state licensure.
Contact your state's Department of Health and Human Services or similar branch. Ask about the registration process for tattoo artist licensure. Complete the department's requirements, which vary by state, to obtain your statewide tattoo artist license and health department certificate. Complete a tattoo license application. Inform the state you will be operating as a mobile artist, as this may require a special application. In most cases, you will have to take additional courses – such as infection control classes – and pass a written exam.
Pass inspection by a state environmental health specialist. The specialist will likely inspect your needles, the cleanliness of your clothing and skin, and your sterilization and disposal procedures.
Pay your state's required licensure fees. Keep up with your state's annual or bi-annual fees.
- "The Independent"; I Want Your Job: Tattoo Artist; Alex McRae; September 2007
- Tattoo Training Information: Tattoo Artist Certification
- Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth; Title 62 Professions, Business and Trades...; 2010
- Washington State Department of Licensing: How to Get Your License: Shops, Mobile Units and Event Locations
Dan is a co-owner, founder and partner at two small businesses, both active in multimedia production in Los Angeles and Cincinnati. He's contributed what he's learned about small business over the past decade to publications such as Chron Careers, Fortune, AZ Central Small Business Tech, GlobalPost Careers, GoBankingRates.com, Motley Fool, MSN Money and others.