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How To Get A Tattoo License: In-Depth Guide Through Your Tattoo Artist

So, your dream and career goal is to become a tattoo artist? Let’s start by saying you’ve come to the right place! Becoming a tattoo artist is a notoriously difficult thing for any talented and passionate tattoo artist. But, it is doable, of course. You just need the right advice, a little perseverance, and you will get there.

Now, since different states have different requirements, we’ll try to cover the most common requirements for a tattoo license and highlight states in which you may encounter a different licensing process. Either way, let us guide you through this journey so you’re ready for whatever the journey awaits.

How to get a tattoo license (Florida, Texas, California and many other cities)

get a tattoo license
Credit: @ashatanktattoo

Why do I even need a license?

To become a professional tattoo artist, you must obtain a tattoo license working in each state, and even outside the country. The tattoo license is designed to ensure the highest quality of tattoo services as well as to control and prevent the spread of infectious diseases, which can easily occur if the tattoo artist is not trained or familiar with transmission diseases and their prevention.

The tattoo license is required by law for all businesses that operate as a tattoo, piercing or body art business. Without a valid license, the tattoo artist cannot operate and will be prohibited from operating if a law enforcement officer does not obtain a valid copy of the tattoo license exhibited during the annual inspection.

What makes me eligible for a tattoo license?

Each state has a set of requirements or eligibility criteria, created and backed by law that clearly defines what you must do to obtain a tattoo license. For instance;

  • If you are self-employed, or operate individually or as part of a business, a tattoo license will be required. Otherwise, you will be heavily sentenced.
  • If you want to provide services and treatments like skin tattooing, you must perform your work in a safe and hygienic environment. This is one of the main ways to prevent the spread of infection among clients or employers.
  • And finally. By state law, you must operate in a safe and hygienic environment and facility, perform procedures safely, and use appropriate, safe, and clean equipment.

These are just some of the criteria required by law. The requirements created for you to qualify for a job in the tattoo industry vary from state to state. But, the general criteria boil down to the aforementioned three things; appropriate working conditions, a safe and hygienic environment and safe and clean tools.

It is also important to understand that in some cases, once you receive your license, you cannot use the same license in another state. If you wish to practice tattooing in another state, you must obtain an additional license, which you will obtain by contacting the local council/authority and requesting further information.

So how do I get a tattoo license?

Alright, so here’s the main part of our topic; get a tattoo license.

For this part, we will take New York City as an example of the licensing procedure. But, if you want to know the tattoo licensing laws for your own state, be sure to check out the detailed state law requirements.

The first thing you need to do is submit a tattoo artist license application, as well as enroll in the infection control course. You will also need to pay the license fee; for example, in New York, you will pay $100 for a two-year tattoo license, and half the amount if you apply for a temporary tattoo license (for a period of seven consecutive days during which the license is applied for) . The Infection Control course training fee is $26 (with an additional 2.49% fee for all online payments).

You can submit both applications in person or online. For a detailed application, procedure, be sure to visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/business/permits-licenses.page, where you will find a step-by-step guide to online application as well as all documents required for license as well as payment.

For an in-person application, you will also need to collect all the application forms by downloading them from the aforementioned page. You will gather all the documents, including the application form, additional forms, and other required supporting documents (all explained on the page), along with payment and submit them to the NYC Licensing Center.

Documentation required for tattoo permits includes permit application, permit fee, proof of home address, photo ID, proof of sales tax collecting authority, proof of incorporation, payment of outstanding fines for DOHMH violations, etc.

But what about other states?

To get a tattoo license in, say, Oklahoma, you will pay a lot more for tattoo license fees. You will pay a license fee of $250 (for each type of license pursued). Once you have obtained a license, you will have to wait two years to obtain the test letter, which means that you will have to pass the tattoo/body piercing proficiency exam (according to your own timetable and your own choice of the one of the test locations).

The test fee will be $200.00, paid directly to Career Tech. To pass the test, you will need to obtain a minimum score of 70%.

When it comes to Florida, for example, the procedure is quite similar, but the cost of fees differs significantly. Here you will have to pay a fee of $60 for the completed tattoo artist license application.

If you want to renew your tattoo artist license, you will also have to pay $60 taking into account the reactivation fee of $25, making a total of $85. The license and all accompanying documents are issued by the local county (where the tattoo artist lives). If you are a guest from Florida, you will need to obtain a Guest Tattoo registration, which costs $35. Guest registration is valid for up to 14 consecutive days in Florida.

In Texas, you will need to obtain a separate license for tattooing and body piercing, for example. To get your tattoo license in Texas, visit the state health services website for a detailed explanation. We can inform you that the license application is standard, but you will have to send two separate application forms for tattooing and body piercing, and unfortunately pay a second fee.

The license(s) are valid for two years, after which you will need to submit a license renewal request. The application fee in Texas is around $900 and the renewal fee is the same as the initial payment. If you apply for a special event license, you will need to pay around $450 (and the license is valid for 7 consecutive days).

The tattoo licensing procedure for California requires many different licenses and permits. For example, you must complete the Bloodborne Pathogens training course and submit an application to Environmental Health. But, before all that, you need to contact your local city for zoning requirements and get a business license, fictitious business license, vendor permits, insurance, etc.

Then, before opening your own tattoo studio, you will need to submit a completed health permit application. Now, license application fees vary by county; for example, the fee for Los Angeles County is around $47, while the same fee in Santa Clara County is $175.

Common questions about tattoo licensing

How long does it take to get a tattoo license?

Generally speaking, the time frame in which you can obtain a tattoo license varies. But, overall, you must have at least one to five years of apprenticeship. Upon completion of an apprenticeship, you can apply for a tattoo license. The apprenticeship is usually unpaid, but it does provide the necessary practice and insight into the world of tattooing. During the learning period, you will learn about tattooing, equipment, techniques, hygiene and sanitation practices, infection and disease prevention, and much more.

How much does it cost to get a tattoo license?

Now, the overall costs of obtaining a tattoo license also vary from state to state. There is also the notion of having to pay for your own learning program, which can range from $5,000 to $10,000 for an apprenticeship of approximately two years. During the apprenticeship, you work for free, as we mentioned, and you also have to buy your own tools.

Now, when it comes to the cost of licensing fees, you can expect to pay anywhere from $25 (in Alabama) to $420 (in Minnesota), depending on the official fee cost published by official state websites. Rumor has it that you will have to pay around $900 for license fees in Texas, which is the most expensive tattoo license fee estimate in the country.

How old do you have to be to get a tattoo license?

Generally speaking, the universal age at which you can begin your tattoo apprenticeship and submit a tattoo license is 18 years old. Teenagers under the age of 18 are not legally allowed to practice tattooing or piercing, individually or as part of a business. . However, some laws may have changed, so we urge you to check the age requirements for your own state, local city or county.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a tattoo license is a tedious process. This can take a long time and cost even more. But, if being a tattoo artist is your dream career, then go for it. Think of your tattoo apprenticeship as a form of college education, then your tattoo license as an official degree. With these two, you will be unstoppable and you can really enjoy creating your art and making people happy. But, until then, do your research, make the most of your learning, and save, because you’ll definitely need an extra dollar during the process.

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