Some people see the human body as a work of art, and modern-day Picassos are itching to improve that blank canvas with inked designs.

Interested in a little body art? Then consider this career: tattoo artist.

Tattooing is a hip way to make a living, but aspiring artists shouldn’t confuse edgy with easy. People who want to be like celebrity tattooist Kat Von D need to pay their dues before they can star on their own “LA Ink.”


Tattooists need to be good artists. People trust you to permanently ink their bodies, so you better be able to create the design of their dreams. If you’re an undiscovered artistic prodigy, then build a portfolio and share your work with established tattooists.

Beginners must apprentice with a professional tattooist, and these apprenticeships can cost thousands of dollars. Experience, not cash, is your compensation.

If you have the talent and the passion to excel as a trainee, then you can anticipate a career that can’t be matched for personal freedom. As a tattooist, you are selling clients an extreme form of self-expression.

Leave your business suits at home – your clients want to make a statement, so you can do the same. That sort of freedom may not fly with human resources at most companies.

You may like the connection between tattoos and counterculture, but the government has to intervene when you mix needles and human skin.

Tattooists need Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training in bloodborne pathogens and cross-contamination controls, as well as training in CPR and first aid. They also need to learn about dermatology and the human body’s nervous system.

While tattooists have to deal with some regulation, they don’t have to fall victim to the` “starving artist” cliché. Their clients are walking billboards for their work.

A variety of factors affect tattoo artists’ income, but salaries range from $23,000 to $86,000. Ladies, take note – only 13 percent of tattoo artists are female. You’re entering a male-dominated industry, but those weathered bikers might appreciate a feminine touch.