What is the salary of a tattoo artist?

A profession of talent, perseverance, and a lot of responsibility


It is said to be a well paid job.

Recently, the boom in this profession has made many people decide to become a tattoo artist without really taking into account the long and hard process that every artist goes through to finally be recognized and valued within the industry.

We are not lying, it is an exhausting path, especially when you are an apprentice since you must incorporate the discipline from scratch and venture into a completely new world, with its own habits and rules. You will also depend on the good predisposition of people.

To become a good tattoo artist, you have to have a lot of perseverance and feel a great passion for the profession, since the salary may not be enough for you.

If you really think that being a tattoo artist is your thing, here you have all the necessary information on expenses and earnings.

Expenses and earnings of a tattoo artist


As a tattoo artist, you must train and acquire all the necessary knowledge. We recommend that you face this first stage with some previous savings, since it consists of several expenses and little income.

Here, we’ll tell you everything about what you have to study to be a tattoo artist:

  1. Perfect your drawing: whether you bring it innate or not, you must learn to master your designs to add a plus of originality and define your style in the future. This will be essential to become a professional artist who will stand out by offering a unique and authentic way.
    Of course, thanks to this, you will be able to raise the cost of your tattoos!
  2. Tattoo training: You have the option of looking for a paid training, where they teach you all the techniques and mechanisms, or you can offer yourself as an apprentice in a tattoo studio. For both options, you will need to buy the machine and some other elements.
  3. Official hygienic-sanitary certification: you have to comply with this legal requirement that is essential to be able to become a tattoo artist. It consists of a course in which you will be taught to take the necessary measures to protect your health and that of your client.


There are several levels: apprentice, beginner, intermediate and expert. This process take years to acquire knowledge and increase your talent with daily practice. As you level up, your salary will rise proportionally.

Here, nothing happens from one day to the next, patience, and perseverance are key.

Talent and popularity

This point is closely related to what was mentioned above, since your talent will depend on the time you have dedicated to the development of your skills and your experience.

Beginners and experts don’t have the same salary. Experts have good reputation within the industry and a full mailbox. That is why they can earn more money.

Let's get this straight: the price has to match your talent, as simple as that.

Tattoo style

There are styles that require more detail and therefore more time, and others that can be done more quickly and simply.

For example, it is not the same if you make minimalist style tattoos, which usually have few lines and shadows, than making realistic designs, which are much more detailed and require another level of knowledge.

Of course, we are not discrediting any style, we value all of them, but we are also aware of the work that each one of them costs.

Styles that require more time, skills may be very exclusive and will be the best paid. Nothing detracts from the fact that you may be the best at minimalism and your salary is excellent.


In Spain, freelancing means working on your own on a regular basis, without a company contract and running your own business. As we will deduce, most tattoo artists are freelancers, in fact, it is normal for them to be even working for another studio

Freelancing means taxes: VAT, income tax, quarters, social security, self-employed fee, rent in case you have your own studio and an administrative agent if you are not aware of all the tax requirements. And also, it requires a great responsibility at an administrative and financial level.

All these costs will make you think about the rate you will offer per hour, since it is up to you to pay taxes for a company managed by third parties.

Do not forget that self-employment excludes you from benefits such as paid vacations, days off, jobseeker allowance, the security of a fixed monthly income and much more. However, you will run with the advantage of “being your own boss”. In most cases, you will be able to set your schedules, and you will take other liberties unlikely to enjoy in a contract.


Although all your expenses should be covered, it is not bad at all to receive a tip as a symbol of appreciation for your personalized service and your great talent.

This custom is not deeply rooted in some countries of the world, but in others it is, in fact, in the United States it is mandatory.

You can’t count on tips as a guaranteed income source, because you don’t know if it will really happen and what the amount will be. But if it does happen, it will be something to celebrate.

The percentage stipulated is around 20%, calculated from the final price of the tattoo.

Having your own studio or working for a third party studio

When you dedicate yourself to the art of tattooing, you have to choose between working for the studio of others or, if you have the possibility, creating your own studio.

Both options have their pros and cons:

On the one hand, if you decide to start your own business, your earnings will be much higher than if you are just an employee, but you still have to face many expenses, such as the rent, public services, the purchase of disposable materials and cleaning products.

In addition, all this administration requires giving up a great deal of time and being mentally prepared, since setting up a studio is not easy at all.

If you prefer to work in someone else's studio (or at least until you can have your own) you will avoid the daily stress of running a business, but your earnings will be less. The percentage earned in a dependency relationship, being a tattoo artist, varies between 40 and 70%.

The owner keeps the rest to pay for the space you use to provide your service and for the purchase of different materials.

Important: Value your work

This point is extremely ESSENTIAL. Unfortunately, it is very common for your clients to ask you for a discount on the price for the design or for the session. There is no justification for that request, their defence is that "it costs you nothing", and this is wrong: it costs money, actually, a lot of money.

It is essential that you make your work valued and communicate to those who want to get tattooed by you that your work is not only the final result of the piece embodied on the skin, but that it is much more than that: it is the time and money invested in studies and practices, it is the talent to create the design, it is the expenses of all the materials used, and it is the possibility of being treated in an aseptic and safe place.

If explaining all this, your client still insists, they just do not deserve you as an artist.

Do not give in, even if they tell you "such a tattoo artist charges me cheaper for the same" because it is impossible, “the same” does not exist. All artists have their peculiarities, and you are unique. If they prefer price to quality, good.

“Give away your art, and they will come back for the price. Respect it, and they will come back for quality” never forget it.

Other expenses

Here we can add expenses such as virtual promotion on different social networks, tangible brochures, personal cards, shift management apps and some other things. Of course, they are not mandatory, but they will add another tint to your services.

In short, what could be an estimated salary?

Beginner Level: $15,000 to $23,000 a year in many US states.

Intermediate Level: $30,000 to $60,000

Expert Level: $80,000 to $150,000 a year.

Of course, this will vary taking into account everything said above and the country where you are, where perhaps the art of tattooing is more or less prestigious.

Apart from your constant learning, to earn a good salary, it will be very important to maintain a friendly and reliable relationship with your client. You will also need to know how to organize your business.

Conclusion: if you try hard enough, you will be rewarded

We have already made it clear that the path to success in the profession of a tattoo artist is complex and expensive, but it is also rewarding and exciting! The key to success is effort, perseverance, and willingness. Nothing will be easy, but we assure you that the reward of succeeding in what you like is priceless.

We know that the learning stage consists of many expenses, and the craziest thing is that this period never ends. That is what success is all about, being in constant training so as not to stagnate and always aim for more.

In 10 Masters, we have been very clear about what you need to learn to be a good ink professional. That is why we have set up an accessible, complete and practical online school, so that you can study your way. When you knock off, while commuting, on your mobile or in the comfort of your sofa at home, but without missing a single detail, in the front row.

With the revolution of e-learning and the evolution of technology in recent years, it seemed like an incredible idea to create and promote a new educational model within the tattoo industry. But, we take care of perfecting you as an artist through experience and knowledge of other referent artists.

Do not hesitate, it is your time to take a big step.