The qualifications for a career as a tattoo artist depend on the state or local area the artist plans to ply his trade. While a passion for tattoos and artistic skills are necessary for success in the field, state and local governments can regulate the artists who work in tattoo shops by requiring further credentials. One example is a tattoo training program, which provide the artist with coursework on sanitation practices, infection control and tattooing techniques.

Education and Training Programs

States that regulate tattoo artists can require the individual apply for a license to practice the art in the state. The requirements may include a minimum high school education and the completion of a training program to qualify for the state license. For example, the state of Oregon requires tattoo artists have a high school diploma and complete a training program that includes a minimum of 210 hours of training in theory and 150 hours of practical training. The state of Rhode Island does not license tattoo artists, but requires individuals to register with the state. Applicants are not required to complete a training program to register in Rhode Island.


Tattoo professionals or those licensed in a state can offer apprenticeship programs to applicants seeking training and licensure. The tattoo artist must pay for the apprenticeship program, which provides training under the supervision of a professional. The apprenticeship program may require the individual complete a specific number of hours observing the professional tattoo artist’s techniques and practices before he can work on a client. An apprenticeship program can take years to complete.


States can require the tattoo artist pass an examination that tests his knowledge of sanitation procedures, blood-borne pathogens and contamination risks. For example, Rhode Island requires a registering tattoo artist pass an examination that tests his knowledge of infection control and sanitation. In addition, Rhode Island tattoo artists must demonstrate the ability to perform aseptic tattoo techniques to meet the registration requirements.

Job Skills

Tattoo artists must have artistic abilities and creativity to create and apply tattoo designs. In addition, the artist should have good communication skills to work with the public and explain the procedure to clients. Effective communication also includes listening skills, which are essential for a position as a tattoo artist. A tattoo artist should have a strong attention to detail to ensure customer satisfaction in the tattoo design. The individual should also have organizational skills to ensure he follows the correct sanitation and infection control procedures.