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Tattooists, or body artists, decorate the skin of their clients with permanent designs – either words or pictures or a combination of both. They create the tattoos using electronic needles which pierce and inject ink under the skin.

The Work

You could be:

Some tattooists offer other services such as tattoo removal, 'cover up' (redesigning or covering over an existing tattoo) and body piercing (see job article Body Piercer).


The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:

Starting pay is often based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW).

As of 1 April 2017 the National Minimum Wage is £5.60 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and £7.05 an hour for workers aged 21 to 24. The National Living Wage is £7.50 for workers aged 25 and over.

Self-employed tattooists usually charge an hourly fee, from around £60 to £120, depending on its complexity and the numbers of pigments involved. Sometimes a set fee is agreed if the tattoo is done in one sitting. Experienced tattooists can earn around £30,000 a year or more. Tattooists sometimes charge a non refundable deposit which will be deducted from your final bill for large tattoo work such as a back piece.


Employment Status UK %

Past Unemployment

Year Unemployed

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Getting In

Look for apprenticeships by contacting registered tattooists. You may make useful contacts by going to tattooing conventions. You might have to move to another part of the country. Most registered tattooists are self-employed.

Predicted Employment in Scotland

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What Does it Take?

You need:


Getting On

Success will depend on the location of your studio and the reputation you build up by word of mouth.

In Scotland you can apply for the Tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence (Scotland) from your local authority. This licences covers:

More Information

There is a growing demand in the UK for tattooists with one fifth of the UK's population now having a tattoo.


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Tattoo Club of Great Britain
Tel: 01865 715253

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