A career as a tattoo artist can be an attractive choice for creative people with talents in the visual arts. It allows creative people to earn a living while enjoying flexible hours, a casual work environment and the satisfaction of creating permanent works of body art for customers. Unlike many states, Oklahoma heavily regulates the tattoo industry. Becoming a tattoo artist in Oklahoma is a lengthy process that requires extensive training, testing and knowledge to ensure the safety and satisfaction of Oklahoma tattoo customers.
Locate a tattoo artist authorized as an apprentice sponsor by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. An apprentice sponsor must be licensed in Oklahoma, must have had at least five years of tattooing experience and must have successfully applied to the Oklahoma Apprentice Program.
Complete first aid, bloodborne pathogen and CPR certifications through a program sponsored by an authorized Oklahoma provider. Course dates and times, testing locations and fees vary according to provider. You can obtain a list of authorized providers from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Complete and submit the Application for Apprentice Permit, which is available on the Oklahoma State Department of Health website. There is no fee for the permit application. The permit is valid for two years from the date of issuance.
Complete the training program administered by your apprentice sponsor. The training program must consist of 1,500 hours of instruction over a 1- to 2-year period.
Print and complete the Graduate Apprentice application, available on the Oklahoma State Department of Health website, upon completion of the training program. The fee for the Graduate Apprentice application is $250, as of the date of publication. Upon approval, you will receive a letter from the department authorizing you to take the licensing exam.
Schedule your written exam with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and pay the $200 testing fee. Testing locations, dates and times vary. The exam covers topics such as safety, aseptic techniques, ink application, professionalism and physiology -- you must achieve a score of at least 70 percent to receive your Graduate Apprentice license.
Complete a 1-year apprenticeship with your sponsor after receiving your Graduate Apprentice license. At the end of the apprenticeship, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health to apply for your full license. The fee for full licensure is $250.
Plan to work for your apprenticeship sponsor for at least a year after receiving your full license. Developing and administering an apprenticeship program is a time-consuming process that takes away from your sponsor's ability to earn money. He will likely expect you to work for him to help justify the effort.
Do not apply to the Oklahoma apprentice program if you are under the age of 18. Oklahoma law prohibits minors from performing tattoo art.
Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.