Schools for Aspiring Tattoo Artists: How to Choose

Tattoo artists typically receive necessary training through apprenticeships, working under the direct supervision of a licensed professional. Many states require tattoo artists to earn certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and bloodborne pathogens, which can be achieved through the completion of training courses. Students can also enroll in art programs to improve their drawing abilities.

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Aspiring tattoo artists may want to consider going to art school, in addition to researching local regulations regarding the tattoo profession. Programs in art as well as programs in CPR and bloodborne pathogens, all of which are relevant to tattoo artists, are available at community colleges throughout the country.

Top Schools With a Visual and/or Fine Arts Associate's Degree

These schools offer associate's degree programs in visual or fine arts, which cover a variety of beginning art courses.

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition 2015-2016*
Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA 4-year, Private $20,340
Fashion Institute of Technology New York, New York 4-year, Public $5,230 in-state, $14,230 out-of-state
Heritage University Toppenish, Washington 4-year, Private $19,122
South Texas College McAllen, TX 4-year, Private $3,770 in-state, $4,440 out-of-state
Delaware College of Art and Design Wilmington, DE 2-year, Private $23,990
Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY 4-year, Private $46,586

Sources: *National Center for Educational Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Students interested in pursuing this career path should consider the following:

  • Tattoo artists must meet local, state and county regulations including CPR certification, so students should consider schools which also offer the opportunity to take CPR courses.
  • Courses in bloodborne pathogens will are required for aspiring tattoo artists, so students should look out for schools that offer those.
  • Students must ensure that their training and certification is recognized by an organization such as the American Red Cross.
  • Research the styles of art taught at various schools, as aspiring tattoo artists benefit from an extensive, diverse portfolio of work.

CPR Training Courses

CPR training programs can often be completed in two days or less and are commonly offered in combination with first-aid instruction. A program combines academic study of emergency situations with hands-on experience.

Bloodborne Pathogens Training Courses

Bloodborne pathogens training courses are sometimes offered in combination with CPR training and can be completed in as little as one day of study.

Associate Degree in Art

Associate degree programs in art can be completed in two years and generally include general education courses along with a wide range of beginning art courses. Some programs require students to create a portfolio.

Associate's degrees in visual or fine arts prepare students aspiring to become tattoo artists by helping them build an art portfolio and create tattoos in various styles. Students should also complete CPR and bloodborne pathogens training which can often be completed together and combine study with hands-on training and experience.

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