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Arts & crafts

Tattooist and body piercer

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

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

30 to 40 variable

You could work: evenings; as customers demand

0.5%
Future employment

There will be 0.5% fewer Tattooist and body piercer jobs in 2027.

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 may need to wear protective clothing.

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

You can get into this job through:

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

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.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

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.

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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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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