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How to become a Tattooist

Tattooing is an art that has been practised going back centuries. Tattooists or Tattoo Artists are the creators who may design and then apply the permanent markings or modifications to their customers’ bodies.

If you’re artistic with a steady hand and strong stomach, a career as a tattoo artist could be for you.


About you:


  • Excellent artistic abilities
  • Mature, professional and responsible approach
  • Good communication and customer service skills essential to give the customer what they want
  • The ability to put the customer at ease
  • Steady hand and able to focus for long periods of time
  • Good hygiene standards and practises, also comfortable with needles
  • Self-promotion, marketing and social media skills


The job:


  • Consult with customers to discuss what they would like and explain the procedures to them
  • Ensure the customer is certain about the procedure before going ahead
  • Clean, sterilise and maintain equipment and business to the standards prescribed by your state or territory
  • Help clients choose an image, interpret the client’s ideas to form a suitable image, copy or design image for the client
  • Resize images to fit the body part it’s going on, design tattoos, create line drawings and stencils for tattoos
  • Prepare the area to be tattooed or pierced, perform piercings using needles and tattoos using a tattoo machine
  • Ensure high standards of hygiene and contamination control
  • Inform customers about after-care procedures and wound care
  • Carry out all administrative and marketing responsibilities associated with a small business
  • Train new and apprentice tattoo artists


Lifestyle Impact: Low


  • Part Time opportunities: Moderate – around 43% of Tattooists work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 44 hours a week, which is just above average (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Tattooists’ salary (average) $29,000* per year (source: ato.gov.au). *Salaries vary depending on your skills and experience.
  • Future career growth: Strong (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • You will be doing most of your work indoors in a specialist tattoo parlour or studio.
  • Because the work is hands-on, there are no opportunities for remote work or working from home. However, you may be able to consult with clients via phone and email.


Tattooists are most in demand in these locations:


Tattooists are able to work all across Australia, though there may be more demand in major cities. There is particularly high demand in Queensland. Most Tattooists work in the Retail Trade, and Arts and Recreation Services industries.


How to become a Tattooist in Australia


There are no formal qualifications required to become a tattooist in Australia. However, it is highly recommended that you take courses in infection control and safety.


Step 1 – Finish at least Year 10, focusing on English and Maths.


Step 2 – Spend time developing your artistic skills and building a portfolio of work.


Step 3 – It is highly recommended by the relevant Guilds and Associations that you complete courses such as a Diploma of Cosmetic Tattooing, or complete units such as Maintain infection prevention for skin penetration treatments. Ensure you complete these courses with a Registered Training Organisation – you can check with My Skills.


Step 4 – Seek an apprenticeship with an established Tattooist who has a good reputation and sound business ethics. There are no formal apprenticeship pathways available in Australia, so you’ll need to approach employers directly. Ideally you’ll need a portfolio of work prepared, have completed some basic courses, and present well.


Step 5 – If you want to start your own studio one day, you might also benefit from undertaking some business courses, e.g. Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business.


Find out more here –



Similar Careers to Tattooist


Visual Artist

Piercing Specialist

Business Owner


Graphic Designer



Find out more about alternative careers.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What options are there for career progression?


You can start out as an apprentice or trainee, and continue to build your skills and portfolio. Once you have lots of experience and established a good reputation, you might like to start your own business.


Do I need a formal qualification to become a Tattooist?


Although there are no formal qualifications necessary to work as a Tattooist, doing courses in infection control and safety can greatly boost your employability, and prevent you from hurting someone.


What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Tattooist?


If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Tattooist is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:

  1. Start building up a comprehensive portfolio of your work in a variety of styles. There are lots of tattoo types you might want to specialise in, including black and grey, realism, watercolour, blackwork, and more.
  2. See if you can find work experience with a local business. This will help you see if you might enjoy the work, and can help you start building important contacts for the future.
  3. Talk to a Tattooist to see what a day in their life is like. If you don’t know anyone, see if you can watch videos or documentaries about a career in Tattooing.

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