Tattooing and Permanent Cosmetics

The fields of tattooing and permanent cosmetics offer the opportunity for a creative, challenging career. Read on to learn more about the skills and experience it takes to work in this field, as well as what you could earn.

Is Tattooing and Permanent Cosmetics for Me?

Career Details

The art of injecting ink or pigment into the skin's dermis to form a permanent marking has a long and varied history. Better known as tattooing, this type of work requires artistic talent, particularly the ability to draw. Precision is also important, since you must hit the right layer of skin to create a successful tattoo and avoid causing unnecessary pain. Career possibilities include working as a tattoo artist, a medical tattoo artist or a permanent makeup technician.

According to the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) health system, medical tattoo artists may use their skills to add pigment to skin following reconstruction surgery from breast cancer or to cover scars from surgery ( The New York Langone Medical Center adds that permanent makeup treatments can also include permanent eyeliner, lip color or eyebrows for people who have difficulty putting on makeup because of medical conditions, such as makeup allergies, stroke or arthritis ( Piercings are also a form of body art and permanent cosmetic. By completing a training program and earning certification or licensure in the field, you can make sure you're meeting your state's requirements for tattooing and cosmetic professionals.

Employment Information

According to a survey conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health in 2006, approximately 24% of the 500 random respondents had tattoos, and 14% had piercings ( About half of the respondents between ages 18-29 had either a tattoo or a piercing. According to a 2006 article in USA Today, it's possible that tattooing early could lead to those same individuals getting more tattoos and piercings as they get older ( The article also said that even if these people don't get more tattoos or piercings, it's likely the trend will continue due to the growing youth population combined with the observed prevalence, leading to many opportunities for tattoo artists. It should also be noted that wages for tattoo artists can vary greatly. As of April 2014, the median annual salary for tattoo artists and body piercers was $29,612, according to

How Do I Become a Tattoo Artist?


To become a tattoo artist, you must have natural artistic talent, which you can improve through art classes. You could also study cosmetology, which can teach you about the skin and skin care. However, according to the Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT), most tattoo artists don't receive formal training from a college or university, ( Instead, you'll complete an apprenticeship, which usually takes about three years. You'll work under the supervision of a master tattoo artist to learn the trade.


You can also join the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP) or the APT, which can help you meet state regulations as they're developed ( Through the APT, you can become a cosmetic tattooist, an associate non-artist, an associate tattooist or a professional tattooist. To earn certification from the SPCP, you'll study permanent cosmetics, nursing, ethics and blood-borne pathogens. Then, you must pass an exam that covers pigmentology, infection control, anatomy and physiology. Some states have training, certification or licensure requirements, but they all vary from state to state.

Related Articles for Tattooing and Permanent Cosmetics

  • How Do I Work in the Cosmetics Business?

    Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in cosmetics. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and salary information.
  • Learn How to Tattoo: Schools and Courses

    Tattooing is not offered as a field of study in formal education institutions; tattoo apprenticeships, where you work under a professional artist, are the standard for learning tattooing skills. Many tattoo artists do obtain formal training in an...

View More Articles

Related Videos

  • How Do I Become a Geologist? - Video

    Are you interested in learning more about the Earth's history? You may want to consider a career as a Geologist. Geologists study evolution, rock formations and other structures to answer questions and advance science. Learn more about the required education and training to become a Geologist here.
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Empire Beauty School

    Empire Beauty School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Empire Beauty School:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Maryland: Owings Mills
    • Pennsylvania: Owings Mills, Hanover
  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Avi Career Training

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Great Falls
  • Stanford University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Stanford
  • Harvard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Duke University

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Durham
  • United Beauty College

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Denver
  • University of Notre Dame

    Campus Locations:

    • Indiana: Notre Dame