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Tattooist and body piercer

Alternative titles for this job include Body artist

Tattooists create permanent artwork on their clients' bodies. Body piercers pierce parts of clients' bodies so that they can wear jewellery.

Average salary (a year)


Typical hours (a week)

30 to 40 variable

You could work

evenings as customers demand

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a tattooist and body piercer

You can get into this job through:

  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations


You could start as an assistant in a tattoo parlour or body piercing studio. You would need to find a registered tattooist or body piercer, who is willing to take you on and train you.

You would learn alongside them in the workplace to get the skills, knowledge and experience needed for the job.

For tattooing, you'll need:

  • an interest in tattooing designs
  • artistic ability
  • a portfolio of your own artwork and design ideas to showcase your talents

You might have to start as a customer service assistant in a studio, answering enquiries and booking appointments. From there, you could look out for trainee opportunities.

Other Routes

You could take short training courses and distance learning courses. These will not make you fully qualified. You'll also need to get hands-on, supervised experience in a registered studio.

More Information

Career tips

Many tattooists have experience or qualifications in art and design. It can be useful to have a portfolio of your work.

It's useful to know about the styles and history of tattooing across different cultures. This can help you understand the traditions and meaning of images and how they are meant to be used.

Networking is a good way to get your skills known. Look for online community forums that can put you in touch with experienced tattooists or piercers.

Further information

You can find out more about training with a registered body piercer from the UK Association of Professional Piercers.

You can also find out more about working in this and other creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • concentration skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

  • be over 18 years of age

You must register both yourself and your premises with your local council for a tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence.

You'll need to vaccinated against hepatitis B.

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a tattooist you'll:

  • advise clients on suitable tattoos
  • make sure the chosen design is exactly what the client wants
  • check that clients understand that the tattoo is permanent
  • copy the chosen design onto the customer's skin, either by drawing freehand or using a transfer
  • follow the design lines with an electrically-operated needle, which injects ink under the skin
  • make sure all equipment is sterilised and clean
  • follow strict hygiene and health and safety procedures

As a body piercer you'll:

  • discuss with the client the type of piercing they want and advise on what may be suitable
  • explain the procedure and point out any risks involved
  • advise on suitable types of metal and jewellery
  • sterilise the piece of jewellery and the area which is being pierced
  • dispose of the needle, following health and safety guidelines
  • show the client how to care for the piercing as it heals, and what to do if there's a problem

Working environment

You could work in a creative studio or at a store.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience you could become self-employed. This could mean 'renting a chair' in someone else's studio. With a business plan and sufficient funds, you could open your own studio and employ other piercers or tattooists.

Current opportunities

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Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a tattooist and body piercer right now.

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Courses In England

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Jobs In the United Kingdom

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