how to get a tattoo license

How to Get a Tattoo License: Step-by-Step Guide

If you are a tattoo artist and aiming to open your own tattoo parlor then it is mandatory to have the tattoo license. As a result, you must follow certain rules based on the state rules and regulations. In this article, we will walk you through the process of applying for a license and getting one. Here are 5 Step-by-step guides for getting a tattoo license.

Step-1 Understand Your Local or State Tattoo Regulations

The most crucial step is to understand the state’s requirements is where you are planning to open your business. Take time to research it thoroughly as each state has its own set of regulations and they differ depending on one’s age, education level, experience level, certifications, and so on. Most states require getting the license first before starting the parlor, on the other hand, some require the business location first.

Step-2  Meet the Eligibility Criteria

As the number of people getting tattoos is increasing day by day, people have become more cautious about getting infections after the Covid situation, as a result, the state follows a safety measure in terms of protecting the citizens. This is why it is mandatory for a tattoo artist to have a minimum knowledge in the field of health including bloodborne pathogens, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and First Aid. Which of course requires certifications for proof. Now let’s look broadly into the general requirements or certifications below:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) Certification

CPR is one of the life-saving methods that is used to keep the blood circulating in the case of cardiac arrest. It falls under the professional responsibility of an expert tattoo artist to have a CPR certification.

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There are a good number of organizations that offer valid CPR training courses including the American Heart Association (AHA), National Safety Council (NSC), American Red Cross (ARC), and other healthcare providers and hospitals.

First Aid Certification

Accidents can occur even in a controlled environment. So, having a first aid certificate helps you in a medical emergency and ensures client safety. Some states require first aid certification to govern tattoo parlors. Also, it expresses how determined and committed the artist is regarding the client’s safety and maintaining professionalism.

Like the CPR certificate, you can obtain your first aid certificate from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association (AHA), or from National Safety Council (NSC). There are also numerous community institutions, universities, and commercial businesses which provide first-aid certification courses. One can even get it online, there are plenty of reputable online platforms that offer it.

OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Certification (required by all states)

It is required under the federal standard and required in every state for the body artist, tattoo artist, piercer, and body modifications artist to receive the training. OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States and Bloodborne Pathogen- is about viruses and bacteria that is carried in the blood and causes disease like Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Tattooing involves the use of needles in the body, which is why this training in infection control is crucial to minimize the risk. It is a part of licensing. And you have to take a written and practical exam.

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The written test enquires about the laws about the profession and knowledge of the artist regarding the field. One must score 70%-75% (which varies by state) to pass the exam. And the practice exam is to exhibit the artist’s skill on a live model.

Step-3  Showcasing your Art Portfolio

Your portfolio shows the type of tattoo you do, it is a visual representation of your work. You will need it for a tattoo apprenticeship.

Step-4  Documentation of Apprenticeship

In other words, seeking a skilled tattoo artist, who will train you and refer you.

Step-5  During the Process of State License

You need to gather all the supporting documents that are required to apply for this permit. Your application fee costs differently in each state. If you are applying for the New York City, it will be $100 for two years.

You will need to provide a Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer ID Along with other documents such as driver’s license, and passport.

Later, you will be prompted to register for the infection control course which would give you a broader concept regarding safety measurement. After passing the course and the exam, you will receive the license through your mail within 4-6 weeks.


According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, tattoo artists earn a median annual compensation of $49,960 and the demand for tattooing is increasing insanely to about $1.4 billion by 2023 which is expected to increase by 7.6%.  If you are proficient enough in this field with your efforts and work, you will shine in this field. So, in order to build community trust and make sure your work is legal it is crucial to have a license.  

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