How to Get a Tattoo License in the USA?

How to Get a Tattoo License in USA
How to Get a Tattoo License: Table of Contents
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    So, it’s 2024, another new year, that came around fast! Now you’ve decided to finally take the plunge and become a licensed tattoo artist, or open your own studio. Congratulations! The question probably on your mind is ‘how do I get a tattoo license?’

    Nowadays, tattooing has become a booming business. For artistically inclined individuals, becoming a certified tattoo artist is a fantastic career choice. However, in the United States, tattooing regulations differ depending on your age, education level, certifications, and the state in which you plan to practice. In addition, there are a few fundamental criteria that can aid you on your way to getting your tattoo license.

    Most states in the United States mandate you to obtain a tattoo license before becoming a tattoo artist, while others may require you to maintain a formal business location.

    It should be emphasized that there is no federal law that regulates the profession of tattooing, therefore each state’s regulation of the industry is up to them.

    This article will take you through everything you need to know to get a tattoo license in any state the USA. In 2024 customers and clients are more aware of the dangers of infections and bloodborne pathogens due to the previous COVID19 situation.

    A licensed tattoo artist at work

    Things You'll Need to get a Tattoo License

    Tattoos have become more widely accepted over time. Thus, tattooing, the art of creating permanent ink designs onto a person’s skin, has become a profitable business.

    While the admiration for body art continues to grow, states have struggled to keep up with ensuring tattoo artists operate safely and have the minimum knowledge in subjects such as Bloodborne Pathogens.

    As a result, requirements for obtaining a tattoo license were established in most states.

    The following are the general requirements you need to get a tattoo license in the United States:

    CPR Certification (Only required in some states)

    Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is earned by successful completion of a certified first aid course at an accredited hospital, health care facility, or training facility. The course covers both theoretical and practical aspects of CPR.

    In taking up CPR classes, you will learn how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation as well as how to determine when it is necessary to use, it if it is ever required in your tattoo studio.

    First Aid Certification (Only required in some states)

    Obtaining a first-aid certificate empowers you to assist other individuals and even animals in need during emergencies. While most individuals attend training as part of a job requirement, these abilities are extremely useful in everyday settings, and the course is open to anybody.

    First aid training typically addresses a broad range of techniques for assisting someone who has been injured in emergencies like choking, cuts, fractures, and everything in between.

    OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Certification for Tattoo Artists (Required by all states)

    This certification is the most important as it is required as part of the federal OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1030 Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. In addition, it is the most pertinent certification to tattoo studios.

    Bloodborne pathogens training is required for all tattoo artists, body artists, micro-bladers, permanent cosmetic artists, body modification artists, piercers and others who are exposed to blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) in the course of their daily practice.

    The course must meet the minimum requirements of OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, in addition to any extras specified by the state.

    Here is an example Bloodborne Pathogens Certificate for tattoo artists from our site:

    Bloodborne Pathogens Certificate Tattoo Artists Sample
    Bloodborne Pathogen Certificate for Tattoo Artists

    The training will cover subjects such as bloodborne pathogen terminology, modes of transmission, exposure control plans, universal precautions, hepatitis B immunizations, engineering and work practice controls, the anatomy of the skin, infection controls in a body art studio or clinic, and other material crucial to the tattoo artist’s and clients safety.

    This course may also include additional subjects on infection control, aseptic procedures, and disease transmission prevention. While the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard does not mandate these subjects, several states do, and it is strongly recommended to take a tailor made bloodborne pathogens training for tattoo artists course even if they are not required in your state.

    If you like, you can take a bloodborne pathogens certification for tattoo artists practice test here before you take a course

    Practical or Written Exam (State specific)

    The written tattoo artist test will cover required knowledge for professional tattoo artists as well as the laws that regulate their profession.

    Candidates who score less than 75% on the laws and regulations section or the professional knowledge questions for tattoo artists must retake the entire written test.

    As for the practical exam, on a live model, you will exhibit the abilities you have learned by performing a service linked to your profession. Examiners will assess your competence to complete these activities while keeping a safe and sanitary environment.

    Documentation of Apprenticeship

    One of the initial stages of getting a tattoo license is to complete an apprenticeship. A formal apprenticeship is like enrolling in a trade school; you do it for the skills and information you will gain, the connections you will establish, the certification you will get, as well as for your professional résumé.

    You must seek a skilled tattoo artist who believes you have enough potential to be worth the time and work it will require in training you.

    Tattoo Art Portfolio

    Tattoo artists, like all other artists, require a portfolio. A tattoo artists portfolio may be a physical portfolio, an online portfolio website or other digital showcase. It should display all the designs, sketches, and examples of your previous tattoo work such that clients may get a sense of your tattoo style.

    Most tattoo artists nowadays have a web profile in addition to a printed copy of their portfolio.

    Obtain Your Tattoo License Certifications and other Requirements

    So now you know what you need and why, the next question you probably have is how the heck do I get all that? Don’t worry – we will now go thru step by step on how to obtain all those requirements.

    Step 1: CPR Certification

    Currently in 2024, there are 11 states in which you must be certified to perform CPR and first-aid to obtain a tattoo license. Aside from the American Heart Association (AHA), you can also obtain a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification through the American Red Cross. Both of these organizations offer in person training classes only, so you will need to find a class running in your location at a convenient time.

    The American Red Cross has something of a monopoly on CPR training despite there being many other much more modern and better designed online CPR courses, we now offer CPR certification as a bundle with the BBP Tattoo certification – certain states do stipulate which provider they will accept so its best to check before taking any course.

    We do not recommend the American Red Cross bloodborne pathogen training – it is very outdated, only works on desktop computers and is not tattoo specific – don’t worry though, we’ve got your covered for bloodborne pathogens training.

    Step 2: First Aid Online Course

    A First Aid Online Course is also required in some states. It must consist of an online element as well as a hands-on session with a certified first-aid instructor.

    As with the CPR training, the AHA and Red Cross are safe bets for first aid training, but there are literally thousands of online courses that will also get you a certificate, so do a search online before booking anything.

    Step 3: Bloodborne Pathogen Training and Certificate

    Here at, we offer Bloodborne Pathogens certification for tattoo artists that will get you bloodborne pathogens certified online in about 2 hours.

    Register for a course and take it either on your laptop, tablet, or phone, you can get an immediate Bloodborne Pathogens Certificate valid for 12 months once you pass.

    Step 4: Creating a Tattoo Art Portfolio

    After selecting the pieces that you want to exhibit, purchase a portfolio large enough to hold your largest drawings and outputs.

    Remember to include a watermark or signature in all of your work and ensure that everything is accounted for.

    To create an online tattoo portfolio there are many options – you could host your own site on WordPress or Wix, or simply create a portfolio page on your favorite social media platform.

    It is worth considering that whilst a social media presence is pretty much mandatory, creating your own website has many benefits, most importantly, you will own and control your own online space and there are no limits to your creativity when designing it.

    Tattoo Portfolio for Tattoo License

    Step 5: Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship

    The most expedient way to find an apprenticeship is to walk into your neighborhood tattoo business and inquire whether they are taking apprentices. It is important to remember to bring your portfolio together with your Bloodborne Pathogens certificate, and your CPR and first-aid certifications if they are required in your state.

    Step 6: State Tattoo License Examination

    The final step in earning your tattoo license is through undertaking a written exam, which is normally intended to fulfill the state health department’s standards. The cost of obtaining the required license and the exam varies by state.

    What Do I Need To Get a Tattoo License In My State?

    This is one of the things that gets people very confused because many states in the USA have specific criteria that you need to meet to get a tattoo license.

    To make things super simple for you we have provided a quick overview and links to every state tattoo licensing information in the table below. Just locate your state and make sure you have all the requirements covered before applying for your tattoo license!

    Just type your State Name in the search box to find out what you need to get a tattoo license.

    How to get a tattoo license - state specific requirements table

    State (A-Z) CPR Required First Aid Required Bloodborne Pathogens Required High School Diploma Required State Specific Requirements Link to .gov state licensing info
    Alabama Documentation of attendance at a bloodborne pathogen course or training program offered or approved by the Health Department within the last 36 months before applying for the permit
    Alaska A certified true copy of the current CPR card and blood-borne pathogens card
    Arizona No license required
    Arkansas N
    California LEA-Approved Bloodborne Pathogen Course Completion Certificate
    Colorado LEA-Approved Bloodborne Pathogen Course Completion Certificate Not applicable
    Connecticut A completed course on disease transmission prevention and blood-borne pathogens that meets the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's standards is required.
    Delaware Shops must be registered, and store owners must have permission from the Delaware Department of Health, however, no individual license is required.
    Florida Proof must be provided
    Georgia Evidence of completion of an OSHA-approved Bloodborne Pathogen/Universal Precautions training program and a Red Cross Basic First Aid/CPR certification or equivalent is needed.
    Hawaii Proof of Successful Completion of a Bloodborne Pathogens Course from an Accredited Training Facility is required
    Idaho Businesses must be registered, and store owners must have permission from the Idaho Department of Health, but still, no individual license is needed. Not applicable
    Illinois N
    Indiana N
    Iowa Online diplomas will not be accepted. Not applicable
    Kansas N
    Kentucky Tattoo artists are not required to obtain licenses in Kentucky, but they must register their operations to be certified and inspected.
    Louisiana Tattoo artists in Louisiana are not required to be licensed. It simply requires shop registration and permission from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for business owners, but no individual license is necessary.
    Maine N
    Maryland Tattoo and body piercing shops are not licensed by the Maryland Department of Health. However, you must adhere to special tattooing standards, which specify that all tattooing must be carried out under State regulations governing skin-penetrating body ornamentation methods.
    Massachusetts N
    Michigan N,5885,7-339-71551_27716_73975---,00.html
    Minnesota N
    Mississippi N
    Missouri Proof must be provided
    Montana N
    Nebraska For bloodborne pathogen training:
    Nevada N
    New Hampshire N
    New Jersey N
    New Mexico N
    New York N
    North Carolina A tattoo artist must have a certificate of completing a Bloodborne Pathogens course as authorized by the Department,
    North Dakota N
    Ohio N
    Oklahoma N
    Oregon For bloodborne pathogen training
    Pennsylvania Tattoo artists in Pennsylvania do not need to pass exams or obtain a license to practice. Not applicable
    Rhode Island N
    South Carolina N
    South Dakota In South Dakota, the practices of tattooing and permanent makeup are not regulated by the state. Not applicable
    Tennessee N
    Texas N
    Utah N
    Vermont N
    Virginia N
    Washington N
    West Virginia N
    Wisconsin N
    Wyoming Wyoming does not require tattoo artists to obtain a formal license.

    How to get a Tattoo License: Summary

    Tattoo artists, or at least the tattoo business itself, are now required to get a license.

    In the United States, most states need you to go through some sort of process to get a tattoo license.

    States are also requiring tattoo artists to be certified in blood-borne pathogens as part of getting your tattoo license.

    Although all states do not mandate licensure or qualifications, it is a beneficial idea to look into them. With a tattoo license comes a certain measure of trustworthiness. This could show a potential employer or client that you have mastered a talent, which can help your tattoo business grow.

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