body artist tattoo artist
Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for tattooist

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use needles and ink to draw permanent images, symbols or words on people’s skin.

This job requires a lot of technical skill as well as creative talent. Your customers would be placing a lot of trust in you, so it would be important to very careful while you work. 

You would:

  • Advise each client on suitable tattoos
  • Make sure that the chosen design is exactly what the client wants
  • Make sure that the client understands that tattooing is permanent
  • Place the chosen design onto the client’s skin, either by drawing freehand or using a transfer
  • Follow the lines with an electrically-operated needle, which injects ink under the skin
  • Use different shapes and numbers of needles depending on the type of tattoo
  • Keep up to date with the latest fashions in tattoos

It would be important to follow strict hygiene and safety procedures at all times. 

Working conditions


You would usually work a five-day or six-day week, including Saturdays. Studio hours are usually 9am to 5pm, but you may schedule your work into short sessions during the day because of the level of concentration and attention to detail you need.


You would work in a tattoo studio.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Reliable
  • Time management
  • Concentrating
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication
  • Respecting
  • Observation
  • Designing
  • Creative
  • Problem solving

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


It is usual to become a tattooist by completing training on the job which tattooists refer to as an apprenticeship.

You’ll need to approach local registered tattooists and ask if they will agree to take you on as a trainee. A tattooist may expect you to demonstrate that you have a real interest in tattooing and that you have artistic ability. Your apprenticeship may not be paid and you may be expected to provide your own equipment and sterilising units.

There are no formal qualifications required to enter this training though some tattooists have qualifications in fine art or graphics.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Art and Design
  • Graphic communication

You will also need

  • A portfolio of your work.
  • A keen interest in tattoos. 
  • Good eyesight and normal colour vision

As a tattooist you will need to register both yourself and your premises with the local environmental health department. It will carry out regular inspections of your premises and equipment.


Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show:

  • Artistic skills
  • An understanding of health and hygiene
  • Business skills, as many tattooists are self employed.