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How Much Does a Tattoo Artist Make?

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Did you know that the number of tattooed Americans has skyrocketed since the year 2019? According to this same study, people under 50 years of age are twice as likely to get a tattoo.

That is because tattoo culture has become the norm in American society. No longer is it taboo to ink your body with various designs. If you are considering getting started as a tattoo artist, you’re going to want to know what a typical tattoo artist salary is.

At first glance, it may look like all tattoo artists make a ton of money. However, there are several different factors to account for when trying to determine an hourly wage.

That is because not every tattoo artist is the same. You have to consider things like expertise, location, and certification when it comes to making money. Read on to learn more.

Experience Level

Your experience level has a lot to do with the amount of money you will make as an artist. For instance, if you are beginning your first year in the tattoo industry, you can expect to make around $15,000-$20,000 per year.

When most people start their search for a new tattoo, they want someone who has been in the field for a long time.

A higher experience level is more comforting because it shows that the artist has enough recurring and new clients who continually seek that person’s designs. Naturally, that means more money for those seasoned individuals.

However, that isn’t to say people won’t want to go to a newer artist. There are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to let beginners ink their bodies.

A fact that is especially true if your artwork is impressive enough. If you are looking to gain new clients, be sure to have your portfolio online.

If your tattoos look just as good as well-seasoned professionals, you can start charging a higher hourly fee as you gain new clients. Your business could skyrocket overnight if your work speaks for itself.

That said, once you become an experienced artist, you can expect to make between $30,000 to $50,000 per year. If you have a long waitlist or extremely sought-after designs, you could charge anywhere from $50-$200 per hour.


Another factor that affects your salary is how well you have constructed your portfolio. If someone is browsing your website or portfolio book and aren’t impressed, you might lose clients.

Some of the best-paid artists out there have incredible portfolios that highlight their best work. To create an expert array of tattoos, be sure to photograph every piece you do. Then, choose only the best tattoos to showcase to your clients.


Education plays a vital role in a tattoo artist’s income. Since tattoos are invasive and permanent, many people prefer artists who have special training or certifications.

Most states require their artists to undergo the proper licensing and education programs. Everyone wants an artist who is knowledgeable about preventing the transfer of disease with needles.

They also would prefer someone who has done extensive training with the equipment and practicing on other skins before tattooing a human. Those with this type of schooling will make more of a yearly salary than those without proper tattoo education.

After all, most people want to know their artist is fully capable of handling safety precautions and regulations. If you take a tattoo course, you would be one step closer to receiving the critical information necessary to become a professional artist.

Long or Short Hours

Since tattoo artists receive their pay from clients, the amount of money you make hinges on how many hours you work. Some artists prefer to only work on tattoos that take one to two hours.

If you are charging the lowest average hourly wage of $18-$20, that doesn’t make for a big paycheck. However, if you are willing to work longer hours, you could bring in a decent sum of money.

Larger tattoo pieces are time-consuming. But they are also expensive because of the detail and labor that go into them. If you have a larger design that takes six hours with multiple sessions, your paychecks should reflect that.


Another deciding factor is whether you live in a town or city. Many tattoo artists who live in metropolitan areas have an increased salary rate of roughly $100 per hour.

However, those living in smaller towns can only charge around $50-$100 per hour. The reason for this is simple: cities have more people.

More clientele visiting an artist’s shop means they can charge more money. If you live in a small town, the tattoo community might be small. Therefore, you would have to adjust your prices to fit your area.

Unique Work or Style

On top of the average tattoo artist salary, you could make even more by offering specialized tattoos or services. Some professionals do nothing else but full-body art.

That includes large-scale back pieces, chest, and legs. The highest hourly wage for body artists is around $500. Many other artists paint or draw, and they often come up with unique designs that not everyone can pull off.

They may look into learning how to tattoo pop culture designs such as pop art, manga panels, or anime. There is a demand for these types of tattoos, and people will pay top dollar for an expertly crafted design.

Education for a Higher Tattoo Artist Salary

As you can see, pinpointing an exact salary range for tattoo artists is tricky. There are so many factors that dictate a tattoo artist salary. Everything from your expertise to your location could affect how much you make.

If you wonder how much you could make as an artist, we hope these facts helped you out. Remember, showing potential clients your education in tattoo history, equipment, and safety measures is one of the best things you can do to raise your salary.

If you are looking to attend a tattoo school that will teach you all you need to know, Florida Tattoo Academy invites you to schedule a school tour and get started with us today!

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