“The best tattooists are in San Francisco, and they’re kind of like my family now. I’m always excited to come back to San Francisco.“
Margaret Cho, Comedian
Pros and Cons of Working as a Tattooist
You consider becoming a tattoo designer but are not entirely sure whether this is the right career path for you yet? Great!
This article is exactly for you since I will show you all the pros and cons of being a tattoo artist in the following chapters.
Tattoo Artist Job Profile
|Job Description||Tattooists make sure that their clients get the tattoo they want in the highest quality possible so that they can be really proud of their body art.|
|Salary||$85,000 per year on average, most tattoo artists make between $65,000 and $97,000 per year.|
|Job Security||Decent if you are really good at what you are doing.|
|Job Satisfaction||Good if you are a creative person and love to improve the visual appearance of peoples’ skin.|
|Work-Life Balance||Decent since you will have free weekends and also don’t have to work many extra hours.|
|Physically / Mentally Demanding?||Working as a tattoo designer can be mentally demanding.|
|Future Outlook||Decent since good tattooists will always be needed.|
|Requirements||No special educational requirements. Completing high school will often be enough to work as a tattoo artist.|
Advantages of Being a Tattoo Designer
- Tattoo artists can be creative at work
- Tattooists can work with many different people
- You can open your own tattoo parlor
- Tattooers can work rather independently
- You can enhance the appearance of other people
- Tattoo designers can work indoors
- Working as a tattooist is not that stressful
- Tattoo artists can make decent money
- You can start a side hustle around tattooing
- You can avoid working in office jobs
- You don’t have to work on weekends as a tattooist
- Tattoo designers often come home early
- Tattooists have a decent work-life balance
- You can help out your friends
- You don’t need a degree for becoming a tattoo artist
- Tattooists can become independent pretty early in their lives
Tattoo artists can be creative at work
One advantage of being a tattoo artist is that you can be pretty creative at work.
In fact, clients will often come to your tattoo studio with no clear idea of what tattoo they want to get and this allows you to consult them and to bring in your own flavor.
Of course, not all of your clients will like your taste.
However, once you build some trust, many of your clients will come back if you do good work and they will also rely on your expertise to choose the motives that fit best to their bodies and to their skin.
Moreover, most tattoos will be unique and this gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself every day with motives you have never tried before.
Tattooists can work with many different people
As a tattoo designer, you will also be able to work with many different people.
Quite often, you will have to deal with new clients on a daily basis and have to convince them that you are indeed the best choice for them.
While this can be demanding, it also gives you the opportunity to build a personal relationship with your clients.
Over time, your clients may become more than just clients.
Some of them will stay with you and will become really good friends in the long run.
Consequently, your job as a tattooist may also help you socialize and to expand your circle of friends.
You can open your own tattoo parlor
Becoming a tattooer can also make quite a lot of sense for you in case you plan to start your own business sooner or later.
While many people out there will be happy working as employees, some people just have the entrepreneurial drive deep inside them and those people will likely never become happy with working for someone else.
Hence, if you are one of those people who dream about being their own boss, a career as a tattoo designer can be the right way to go for you since it is pretty easy to work self-employed in this field since you will just not have huge upfront costs like in many other industries.
You could also just work as an employed tattoo artist for a few years and gather some experience before finally quitting your job and opening your own business.
In fact, this path would be even better since you could also save up some money, build some relationships with your clients and the transition from employee to entrepreneur would therefore be much more comfortable and also less risky.
Tattooers can work rather independently
Another upside to working as a tattooist is that you can also work rather independently.
Even though you might have a boss who employs you, you will still be able to do your work completely on your own as long as your clients are satisfied with the results.
In fact, when your boss sees that your clients are happy, he or she will no longer look you over the shoulder all day long but will rather give you high levels of freedom once you’ve initially built this level of trust.
You can enhance the appearance of other people
Being a tattoo designer is more than just work for many people out there. Instead, it is more like a passion and many tattooists would even do their job for free since they just like it so much.
This is often due to the fact that these tattooists love to improve the visual appearance of their clients and also want to make art that will last for a lifetime.
If you are really good at what you are doing, you may also be able to cover up bad tattoos and really help people out who want to desperately get rid of tattoos from the past.
Therefore, you can also make many people happy by working as a tattoo artist since the better people look, the happier and the more confident they will walk through life.
Tattoo designers can work indoors
Another benefit of becoming a tattooist is that you can work indoors. This may not sound that important to you and you may just take it for granted.
Yet, the reality is that many people out there still have to work outdoors during periods of extreme heat or cold and this can make their working conditions quite unpleasant.
In contrast, you as a tattoo designer will be able to work indoors all day long and will even be able to use our modern technologies to make your working conditions even more convenient.
This may include listening to the radio or also using air conditions or heating in case you need it.
Working as a tattooist is not that stressful
Compared to many other jobs, working as a tattoo artist is also not that stressful.
Sure, you really have to focus on your work to avoid mistakes that could ruin the visual appearance of the skin of your clients.
However, you will still not have to deal with excessive time pressure like in many other office jobs where you often have to deliver results within unrealistic timeframes.
Consequently, you will also be more relaxed at work and can really enjoy what you are doing instead of being stressed at work all day long.
Tattoo artists can make decent money
You should also not underestimate the amounts of money you can make as a tattooist.
Good tattoo artists earn far more than the average person out there and if you are really good at what you are doing, you may even be able to make a six-figure income.
The same is true if you open your own tattoo studio and if you know how to scale your business.
Sure, not all tattooists become wealthy. However, if you are willing to work hard and also have natural talent in this regard, chances are that you will be able to make a decent living from your tattooist career and you may even be able to afford some luxury.
You can start a side hustle around tattooing
Not only will you be able to make decent money from your day job as a tattoo artist, but you may also be able to make significant amounts of money on the side.
If you are really good at what you are doing, you may get more jobs than you could complete during the week and this means that you may be able to make some nice additional money after work or on weekends.
You may also be able to start a YouTube channel or a blog where you talk about all aspects that come along with tattooing and mistakes people should avoid.
If you are willing to put in the work and learn those digital skills, you may also be able to make really good money from those side hustles and some tattooers even make more money from their digital business than from their actual day job.
You can avoid working in office jobs
Another advantage of working as a tattooist is that you can also avoid classical office work.
Instead of just staring at a computer screen all day long, you can be much more creative at work and you will also have this hands-on component by working as a tattoo artist.
Of course, whether office work is for you or not also depends on your individual character.
If it is not for you, chances are that you will become much happier with a career where you can actually see the fruits of your labor every day and where you can also work in some kind of physical manner.
You don’t have to work on weekends as a tattooist
As a tattoo artist, you will also enjoy the privilege of having free weekends.
While you could work during the weekend, it is not a necessity and most tattooists just enjoy their leisure with their families and friends instead.
You can also make nice weekend trips or do nice barbecues while many other people who work as train drivers or police officers will often have to work during those times.
Tattoo designers often come home early
Once you get more experienced in tattooing, you will also be able to finish your work rather quickly and some days of the week, you may even be able to come home in the early afternoon.
Of course, this also depends on whether you work self-employed or if you work for a tattooing studio.
If you have your own tattoo business, you will be much more flexible in this regard and may even be able to take some days off during the week in case you just don’t want to work.
Tattooists have a decent work-life balance
In general, most tattoo artists also report a pretty good work-life balance. In fact, many people who work in this industry are happy with their working hours and some of them would even want to work more.
Consequently, becoming a tattooist can also make sense for you in case you want to have enough leisure to spend on your hobbies while still making decent money at the same time.
You can help out your friends
As a tattoo designer, you will also be able to help out your friends.
There will always be people in your circle of friends who think about getting a tattoo but are not sure whether this is indeed the right decision for them or not.
In such a case, you can consult them and give them further advice in this regard.
Moreover, if they finally decide to go for it, you can also do the work and your friends can be sure that they get high-quality work instead of having to rely on a third-party tattooist who might not be good at all.
You don’t need a degree for becoming a tattoo artist
There is also the incentive to become a tattoo artist from an educational point of view.
Since you will not need a college degree for working in the tattoo industry, basically everyone can try his or her luck in this field.
In fact, you will hardly find any job out there where you can make similar amounts of money with little to no education like as a tattooer and if you haven’t learned anything else from which you could make a living, a career as a tattooist may still be possible for you as long as you have a natural talent for it.
Tattooists can become independent pretty early in their lives
Since you will not have to go to college for becoming a tattoo artist, you will also be able to save lots of money on tuition and other expenses related to college.
Not only that, but you will also be able to make money right after finishing high school and while many of your friends may struggle to pay off their student loans, you will already have accumulated some level of wealth and can move out from your parents’ home at a rather young age.
As you can see, there are definitely many important advantages to a career as a tattoo artist.
However, it is not all upside and we should also talk about the issues that come along with working in this field so that you get a more comprehensive picture of what a tattooist career really looks like.
Disadvantages of Working as a Tattooist
- Tattoo artists have a questionable social standing
- Only a few mistakes can ruin your reputation
- You have a high level of responsibility
- Your mistakes are hard to correct
- Tattoo artists may infect people with diseases
- Tattooists may be liable for mistakes
- Teleworking is not possible for tattoo artists
- Limited promotion opportunities for tattooists
- Fierce competition in the tattoo industry
- You don’t learn many hard skills apart from tattooing
- Hard to switch industries
- You may get bored with it in the long run
- Some tattooists have to quit their jobs once they get older
Tattoo artists have a questionable social standing
One problem with being a tattoo artist is that you will have a rather poor social status.
While some people will greatly appreciate your work, many others will consider it dodgy and some people may also talk badly behind your back.
Consequently, make sure that you are able to deal with snarky comments in this regard in an emotionally healthy manner and that you are also willing to take on this social stigma before becoming a tattooist.
Only a few mistakes can ruin your reputation
You will also have to deal with the fact that only few mistakes can completely destroy your career in this field.
If you make mistakes, your clients will not be happy at all and will spread the bad news on the internet.
In turn, you may no longer find enough new clients to keep your tattoo business profitable and may even have to close it down in the long run.
You have a high level of responsibility
As a tattoo designer, you will also have a high level of responsibility for your clients.
You will change the appearance of your clients’ bodies and if you are not careful, your clients may not like your work at all.
Your mistakes are hard to correct
Contrary to many other industries, it is also hardly possible to correct mistakes in the tattoo business.
Since tattoos are permanent and cannot be removed easily, your mistakes may stay on your clients’ bodies for a lifetime and you will always have this thought in mind when you get to work.
In turn, this can lead to mental issues in the long run and also implies a certain level of pressure.
Tattoo artists may infect people with diseases
If you are not careful, you may also accidentally infect people with serious diseases.
In fact, if you forget to change the needle, you can infect people with HIV, Hepatitis and other unpleasant things.
Everyone makes mistakes and if you are unlucky, you may be the one who will be made responsible in this regard.
Tattooists may be liable for mistakes
Another downside to working as a tattooist is that you will also be liable for mistakes.
In fact, if you do your work poorly, clients may just sue you and this can get you into lots of financial trouble.
Hence, make sure to get proper insurance before starting your own tattoo business to avoid those financial problems.
Teleworking is not possible for tattoo artists
You will also not have the opportunity to work remotely as a tattoo artist. Instead, you will have to be present in person at your workplace.
Consequently, you will also not have the same level of flexibility regarding when you want to work and when you can do things for your private life.
You will also have to spend time and money on commuting while many other people who are able to work from home will not have to deal with these issues.
Limited promotion opportunities for tattooists
Another disadvantage of being a tattoo artist is that you will also not have many promotion options.
Instead, you will often have to do the same work for decades without ever getting the full reward for your labor, at least if you work as an employed tattooist and don’t have your own tattoo studio.
Fierce competition in the tattoo industry
You should also not underestimate the level of competition in this field.
There are many tattoo studios out there and in order to attract clients, you will have to do better work than your competition in the long run.
Thus, make sure that you are exceptionally talented for tattooing since you may just not be able to compete in this field anymore in the future.
You don’t learn many hard skills apart from tattooing
While you will become a real expert in the tattooing industry, you will still not learn many other skills apart from that.
You will also lack important digital skills and this may not only have bad negative consequences for your professional career, but it may also cause issues for your private life if you are not able to keep up with latest technologies that will shape our reality.
Hard to switch industries
Due to your lack of hard skills that will be needed in the job market right now and in the future, it will also be pretty difficult for you to switch industries and to work in a different job.
In fact, many companies will just not give you the chance to work for them and this means that you may get stuck in the tattooing industry forever.
You may get bored with it in the long run
You should also make sure to have a real passion for tattooing before becoming a tattoo artist.
Otherwise, you may just get bored with what you are doing and may just not become happy in the long run.
Some tattooists have to quit their jobs once they get older
Some tattoo designers also have problems doing their work once they get older.
For instance, you may suffer from visual problems or back pain and this may prevent you to work in this industry until retirement age.
In turn, you may experience serious financial issues and may no longer be able to pay your rent.
Top 10 Being a Tattoo Artist Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being a Tattoo Artist Pros||Being a Tattoo Artist Cons|
|Tattooists can make good money||Tattooists have a high level of responsibility|
|You don’t have to work many extra hours||Clients can be demanding|
|You can follow your passion||You may be liable for mistakes|
|Tattooists have decent work-life balance||Clients may even sue you|
|You don’t need a college degree||Tattoo artists have a rather low social status|
|Tattoo artists can work indoors||Hard to get out of this field|
|You will not have that much stress||You will not learn many valuable skills|
|You can help out your friends||Fierce competition in the tattooing industry|
|You can start your own tattoo shop||Few mistakes can ruin your reputation|
|Tattooists can make money on the side||Some people may think you are dodgy|
Should You Become A Tattoo Artist?
Now that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of being a tattoo designer, it is on you to decide whether you still want to work in this field or if you rather want to go for a different career instead.
Also make sure to check out the following articles to get more information on different job options:
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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