How Long Is A Tattoo Apprenticeship?

A tattoo apprenticeship is not the same as an art school. It will not teach you to draw effectively or to improve your overall skills as an artist.

As such, you will be required to increase your artistic ability prior to pursuing any apprenticeships as most tattoo shops will not take you on until you have a developed artistic skill set. 

What Is A Tattoo Apprenticeship? 

A tattoo apprenticeship is the perfect way for students to obtain all of the knowledge that is required to become a reputable and established tattoo artist.

An apprenticeship usually starts with training on correct sanitation and how to build a tattoo machine and portfolio. The average tattoo apprenticeship will take approximately 2 years to complete. 

How Do I Choose The Right Tattoo Apprenticeship?

There are many pitfalls with apprenticeships and so you will need to thoroughly research into apprenticeships before determining which one is the right choice for you. All apprenticeships are not equal and they usually do not pay a significant amount of money.

You should always ensure that you choose an artist that has worked with apprentices previously as this guarantees that you will be taught by someone who understands how to train you effectively. Remember, being a great artist and a great teacher are two different things.

However, if you can find someone who is both then you have hit the jackpot! Be aware that some artists may just want to use you as an assistant without teaching you any of the skills required to become an efficient and successful tattoo artist yourself. 

Therefore, you should research the tattoo shop where you will be working and if possible, talk with apprentices that have worked there previously.

This may sound like a lot of effort but this will save you the headache of committing to two years of work that could prove unrewarding. You should make sure that you only sign on to work with artists that have successfully trained previous apprentices. 

It is important to remember that an apprenticeship only provides you with experience as opposed to a direct qualification. If you believe that the place where you are doing your apprenticeship is unlikely to hire you afterwards then you should avoid working for them.

You should choose shops where graduated artists are working as this will provide you with the opportunity to be hired yourself thereafter. 

You should also always inquire whether you will be able to work on human skin yourself. If you’re not going to be working with clients, your education will be the equivalent of a classroom-based one.

In a hands-on business, this can prove detrimental to your growth and you should therefore ensure that you will be engaging in a hands-on experience.

Otherwise, you may as well browse YouTube for tutorial videos. It is important to understand and identify when you will be working on human skin prior to signing on to an apprenticeship. 

An apprenticeship usually lasts for two years but you should always ascertain the specific period of time with the artist who is teaching you.

Some apprenticeships will be specifically focused on quickly and succinctly training you to become a fully fledged tattoo artist and others will be more intensive over a longer period of time. Apprenticeships can be amazing when the teacher and student have a strong bond.

If you instinctively recoil from your teacher of feel as though you are going to be taken advantage of, don’t engage in an apprenticeship with that particular tattoo shop as you will be unlikely to want to be hired by them.

Thereafter and two years is a long time to commit to working under someone who makes you feel uncomfortable.

There are numerous ways to become a tattoo artist and if you are seeking an apprenticeship, you should ensure that the artist who you are working under is someone who has the qualities of a mentor. 

Where To Find A Tattoo Apprenticeship?

You should start by visiting shops around your local town or city. It can be helpful to compile a list of tattoo shops that you are interested in prior to visiting or emailing them. You should then drop off or submit your artistic portfolio to these shops so that you can make your presence known.

The aim of this is to make the best impression and demonstrate your skills as an artist. An in-person visit also allows you to gain an insight into the vibe of the shop itself and to determine whether you would like to work there.

It is important to note that the purpose of an apprenticeship is to gain experience and then to be hired as a result of that experience. If you’re not a fan of the artists that you are working with then you will not gain much by undertaking an apprenticeship with them.

Once you have dropped off your work, you should follow up with the shops that peak your interest in order to obtain an interview with them. Then, once you attend your interview, you should ask questions with regards to the process and demonstrate your enthusiasm accordingly. 

You should remember that gaining an apprenticeship is similar to making a sale, you will need to demonstrate your skills for a period of time in order to convince your employer that you are a worthwhile investment.

Another way to determine whether you are working with a reputable artist is to get a tattoo from them! This is a controversial yet effective way to watch how they connect with their art and with other people.


To conclude, a tattoo apprenticeship can last for approximately 1-3 years. Some can last for a longer period of time depending on how your mentor chooses to implement their teaching methods.

Some apprenticeships are paid and some aren’t so you should research thoroughly into the apprenticeship prior to taking on any work that you may regret.

Remember to ask the appropriate questions and you will ensure that you take on an apprenticeship that leads you to becoming a successful tattoo artist.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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