Tattoo Apprenticeship: How to Get It and Why It Is Important

As the long-held misconceptions and myths about tattoos continue to fade, more people have developed a serious interest in getting tattoos. This has also seen the number of tattoo artists in America and other parts of the world go up significantly over the past few decades.

But for you to polish up your drawing skills, you need to undergo a tattoo apprenticeship. Continue reading to know how you can get a tattoo apprenticeship and why you need it.

What Is Tattoo Apprenticeship?

What Is Tattoo Apprenticeship

Tattoo apprenticeship refers to the hands-on training opportunity offered by an established tattoo artist to a student who is learning how to draw tattoos. This opportunity allows the student to learn everything about drawing tattoos and practice their skills before they start to work on their own.

This apprenticeship usually begins as a hands-off experience, allowing the student to learn about safety, sanitation, and how to set up a tattoo machine. In most cases, a tattoo apprenticeship takes approximately two years.


Why Is Tattoo Apprenticeship Necessary?

The first step that you have to take in order to become a professional tattoo artist is to undergo an apprenticeship.

Through a formal tattoo apprenticeship, you acquire new skills and knowledge and develop important connections that will help you achieve your dream of becoming a celebrated tattoo artist. It also prepares you for the hectic world of drawing tattoos by exposing you to different goings-on in the industry.

Furthermore, a tattoo apprenticeship is now one of the prerequisites for becoming a professional tattoo artist. This means that if you want to get an operating license and all other related certificates from the governing bodies, you have to prove that you have undergone a formal tattoo apprenticeship. Therefore, an apprenticeship is important for building a professional resume.

In most American states today, you cannot operate as a tattoo artist without a license and other professional certificates. And because these certificates require formal training, you have to undergo an apprenticeship with a professional and licensed artist because it is part of the training.

Therefore, you have to find an artist who has been in the industry for some time to train you. Since the veteran artist is supposed to be your mentor, you have to prove to them that you have the talent and passion.

How Do You Get Tattoo Apprenticeship?

How Do You Get Tattoo Apprenticeship

While there are so many veteran tattoo artists out there, not all of them are good mentors. Therefore, before you approach anyone for an apprenticeship, it is important to know their background. You also need to understand that a tattoo apprenticeship is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

So, there are several important questions you need to ask yourself before you look for a place to have your tattoo apprenticeship.

1. Can You Draw?

This is the most important question that you have to ask yourself before you even enroll for any kind of training as a tattoo artist. Unlike other professions, drawing tattoos requires you to be exceptionally talented and creative. Remember that people want an artist who can give them exactly what they need. If someone wants a fine line tattoo, you must be an expert on fine line tattoo design.

So, if you don’t know how to draw, you shouldn’t waste your time looking for a tattoo apprenticeship. Therefore, you need to have a portfolio of your previous work, including drawings, paintings, pictures of murals, sculptures, and many more.

2. How Committed Are You?

Every veteran tattoo artist knows how demanding the job is. So, they aren’t ready to waste their time on someone who doesn’t have the passion and commitment to put in the hours. Also, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to work for free. If the answer is no, then the tattoo industry is not your place.

3. How Clean Are You?

One of the most important qualities of a tattoo artist is hygiene. You have to be naturally clean and always appear presentable.

Factors to Consider When Looking for a Tattoo Apprenticeship

Before you ask any veteran tattoo artist for an apprenticeship opportunity, there are certain considerations you have to make.

Factors to Consider

1. Are They Approachable?

Because the main purpose of a tattoo apprenticeship is to acquire as many professional skills as possible, you need to find someone who is willing to teach you everything they know. This means that the artist you choose should be approachable and easy to get along with. Remember that you are going to work side by side with the artist for a long period.

2. Do They Have Professional Acumen?

Since you are going to need a license and other professional certificates in order to operate as a professional tattoo artist, you need to choose someone who is licensed and has the necessary acumen to train you. They should, at least, have been in the industry long enough to understand all the intricacies of the profession.

3. Do They Have Time for You?

Although professional tattoo artists are busy people, your mentor should have time to train you. They should be willing to spare some time to explain things to you and show you how to perform different tasks. Also, you should look for someone who is ready to give you an apprenticeship that lasts long enough to give you the amount of exposure and skills you need.

4. Will They Charge You for the Apprenticeship?

While most tattoo artists offer apprenticeships for free, some charge a small amount of money for the opportunity. However, this doesn’t mean that you should compromise on the quality of your training just to save a few bucks. But you also need to be wary of some unscrupulous artists who are only interested in your money.

To be safe, you need to do enough research on the available tattoo artists before you approach any of them. You can also ask for referrals from friends and relatives. If you find a good artist who offers an apprenticeship for free, don’t think it is going to be a free ride. You have to work hard and show dedication to the training as they are.

Tattoo Apprenticeship Tips


As an aspiring tattoo artist, you need to make a strong impression on potential employers and veteran tattoo artists, especially when you are looking for an apprenticeship.

And since the number of students looking for tattoo apprenticeship continues to grow every day, you need to stand out from the crowd. Here are some quick tips on how to find a tattoo apprenticeship.

1. Build a strong portfolio: The best way to impress potential employers and tattoo artists is to have a strong portfolio of your work. Nobody wants to waste their time training someone who doesn’t have the needed skills and creativity to be a tattoo artist. But with a good portfolio, you can easily prove to your potential boss that you’ve got what it takes.

2. Learn and practice drawing: Before you start looking for a tattoo apprenticeship, make sure you know how to draw. The good thing is that you can easily learn to draw without even going to a fine art school. For instance, you can enroll in an online drawing course or look for online videos that teach drawing.

3. Genuinely love tattoos: If you want a potential instructor or employer to take you seriously, you need to prove to them that love tattoos. This means getting a few tattoos. Otherwise, how will you convince your instructor or clients that you can give them the best tattoos if you are not into tattoos?

4. Talk to potential trainers personally: Instead of messaging your potential trainers on social media or asking your friends to call them on your behalf, you should visit the studio and talk to the artist personally about the apprenticeship. You should also show them your portfolio and politely explain to them why you believe you can be a great tattoo artist.

5. Show enthusiasm and patience: You need to prove yourself by showing your devotion to the apprenticeship. Understand that you will be working for free and it might take a while before your trainer allows you to pick up a tattoo machine. You also need to work very hard for the studio in order to gain your instructor’s trust.

6. Push yourself to be better: Most veteran tattoo artists will offer apprenticeships to aspiring artists who show the desire to learn and be better. So, if you are offered an apprenticeship, show the interest to learn new skills and styles.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the cost of a tattoo apprenticeship?

Although most of the best tattoo apprenticeships in reputable studios are free, they are hard to come by. So, sometimes you might be forced to pay for your apprenticeship. All the same, most tattoo apprenticeships cost approximately $5,000. But you need to choose your apprenticeship studio wisely because there are some studios that are only interested in your money. Ensure that the kind of training you get is worth every buck.

2. How long does a tattoo apprenticeship last?

This type of apprenticeship takes a couple of years to complete, but some can last for more than three years, depending on the kind of training you need. This duration also depends on the rules and regulations of your state.

3. Where can you find a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattoo apprenticeships are offered by veteran tattoo artists who have their own studios. The artist also needs to be licensed by the state authority and have all the necessary certificates.

4. Is it hard to get a tattoo apprenticeship?

Although there are many tattoo studios where you can do your apprenticeship, not many of them will take you on immediately. Many veteran tattoo artists will start by testing your skills, creativity, and commitment before they accept your application. Therefore, if you do not have what it takes to be a great artist, you will have a hard time finding a tattoo apprenticeship.

5. How much does an apprentice tattoo artist make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the annual salary of a tattoo apprentice in the United States is $53,586, as of April 29, 2021. This means that an apprentice tattoo artist makes $25.76 an hour, which is equivalent to $1,030 per week and $4,466 a month.

In Summary

With these tips, I’m sure you will be able to find a good studio for your tattoo apprenticeship. I also hope that you now understand the importance of undergoing a tattoo apprentice before you set up your own studio.

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