The Top 10 Best States to Become a Tattoo Artist In

tattoo artist

Though tattoos were once taboo (and prohibited in some states), they’re a widely accepted form of self-expression nowadays. As such, the demand for tattoos and tattoo parlors has never been higher.

If you’ve been considering a creative career change, you may want to consider becoming a tattoo artist! Of course, it’s wise to consider where you’ll be performing most of your work, as client demand impacts income.

This guide will explore the ten best states for burgeoning tattoo artists, helping you choose a tattoo-friendly starting point for your new business venture.

1. Florida

Becoming a tattoo artist in Florida may be far easier than you think. You’ll only need to complete a tattoo artist education course and pay a $60 licensing fee. 

Even better, Florida has a staggeringly high demand for skilled tattoo artists. Miami, in particular, attracts a variety of tattoo artists. As a result, the South Beach area is home to some of the best tattoo parlors in the US.

If you’re looking to give your new tattoo artist career a quick headstart, plan a trip to South Beach and get your networking game on!

2. Nevada

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas, evidenced by the thousands of tattoos completed in Sin City each year. If you’re looking to jump right into tattoo work, you might want to choose Las Vegas, Nevada.

3. Texas

Though you might not think of the Lonestar State as particularly tattoo-friendly, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of tattoo shops in Texas. What’s more, the average income for a tattoo artist here is over $68,000!

4. Oregon

Oregon has some of the most restrictive licensing requirements for tattoo artists. But these strict criteria often produce the best artists, drawing clients from around the globe. Demand in Portland, Oregon, is always high.

5. New York

New York City has more tattoo and piercing shops per square mile than almost any other US city. So, if you’re a tattoo artist looking to make it big in the Big Apple, you have quite a few opportunities to do so.

Still, you will need to complete the NYC Health Academy’s Infection Control Course for Tattoo Artists and pay a $100 licensing fee before putting down any ink.

6. California

You’ll need to pass a pathogens course and prove that you’re vaccinated against Hepatitis B to start working as a tattoo artist in California. That said, many tattoo artists here earn close to $100,000 per year.

7. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is another hotspot for tattoo artists. Part of this might have to do with the fact that this state doesn’t enforce tattooing regulations or licenses. If you’re eager to get started, why not visit Philadelphia?

8. Colorado

Colorado’s demographics have changed dramatically over the last two decades, and one of these changes is the influx of young people from all around the world. And many of these folks love tattoos!

9. Illinois

If you’re looking to avoid lengthy licensing processes and the exorbitant fees that often accompany them, you may want to consider starting in Illinois. That’s because Illinois doesn’t enforce a statewide license program.

10. Michigan

Both Detroit and Flint are well-known for their unique tattoo parlors and talented artists. That said, schools here are few and far between, so it might be best to get your education and training elsewhere. 

Factors to Consider

While all of the above states could be an excellent place to start your new tattoo artist career, it’s essential to keep a few significant factors in mind when selecting the best starting point.

For example, you’ll want to think about:

  • Local tattoo schools
  • Licensing requirements
  • Tattoo demand
  • Average income

Let’s discuss these factors in more detail to ensure you choose a state that best fits your current education level, licensure, and financial needs.

Local Tattoo Schools

Does your chosen state offer specialized tattoo schools for upcoming artists? If not, you might find yourself making hefty commutes to earn an education in tattoo artistry.

Take a few moments to see if your preferred state and city are nearby accredited, reputable tattoo schools. This extra step could save you hundreds of dollars in gas expenses and a ton of frustration.

Licensing Requirements

Depending on which state you decide to start your tattoo artist career in, you may not need a license at all. Arizona, for example, doesn’t require tattoo artists to apply for or receive a license to work within the state.

Compare this to Minnesota, where a tattoo license costs $420 (and lasts for two years). If you decide to start your tattoo career in this state, you’ll also need to prove that you’ve completed at least 200 hours of supervised work.

Always consider the licensing requirements before moving to a new state. Doing so can help you prepare for your licensing examination or avoid one altogether. It can also help you find work at a tattoo shop more quickly.

Tattoo Demand

Tattoo demand is another vital factor to consider. After all, if you move to a state that doesn’t have a high demand for tattoo artists, you’ll likely struggle to earn an income and attract clients.

Fortunately, the states listed in this guide are almost always looking for skilled, licensed tattoo artists. Still, demand doesn’t always translate to beaucoup bucks.

Average Income

Not every state in the US offers the same income level for tattoo artists. This is because every state’s cost of living expenses varies, as does its minimum wage.

For example, California has a higher cost of living than most other states, but it also offers a minimum wage of about $14. On the other hand, Georgia has a lower cost of living but an equally low minimum wage of $5.15.

Tattoo art falls into the “Craft and Fina Artists” labor category. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median pay for workers in this category is about $49,000 per year.

But this average annual income varies greatly depending on your location. For example, artists working and living in Florida, Georgia, New York, and Maryland earn an average of $85,000 or more per year!

So, before you move, be sure to check out average income levels for tattoo artists in your chosen state and city. Doing so can help you select a profitable starting point for your new business.

Become a Licensed Tattoo Artist

There are plenty of states that are well-suited to tattoo artists. Some of the most tattoo-friendly options include Florida, California, Oregon, and Texas. But, of course, the right choice for you depends on several crucial factors.

Before you pick up your bags and move, it’s wise to consider applying to a tattoo school in your chosen state, research licensing requirements for that state, check out state-specific tattoo demand, and average income levels.

Florida Tattoo Academy in Tarpon Springs is excited to teach you everything you need to know about becoming a tattoo artist. So schedule a school tour today!