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Tattoo Apprenticeship: How Long Will it Take & Other Facts


Conventional apprenticeship programs typically span a duration of 1 to 4 years, and understanding the factors contributing to these varying timeframes is essential when selecting the ideal apprenticeship that suits your needs. This article aims to provide comprehensive answers to your inquiries about embarking on a tattoo apprenticeship journey, specifically how long a tattoo apprenticeship takes.

How long does a tattoo apprenticeship last?

An average apprenticeship typically encompasses a duration of 2 to 3 years, although there are instances where they may persist for as many as 5 years.

Normal Apprenticeship

Ordinarily, individuals embarking on a tattoo apprenticeship invest their initial year in the process of “earning” their education, which involves tasks such as cleaning and handling front desk responsibilities. This practice is designed to offset the expenses associated with their mentor’s time and instruction. Consequently, during this phase of your apprenticeship, you won’t be engaging with a tattoo machine for the first year.

Short Apprenticeship

In the scenario where you’re financing your education rather than trading labor for it, your apprenticeship duration ought to be shorter. In this case, you should promptly commence your learning journey since you’ve already made the financial investment.

Long Apprenticeship

This particular apprenticeship model aligns with the structure of a conventional apprenticeship, with the added commitment of becoming a full-fledged artist within the tattoo shop as an integral component of your tattoo apprenticeship agreement.

How many hours a week is a tattoo apprenticeship?

Typically, apprentices are required to dedicate their time to their apprenticeship for an extensive duration, often spanning 5 to 6 days a week. This intensive schedule is imperative in fostering a comprehensive understanding of the craft and enabling apprentices to gain practical experience, as the art of tattooing demands a consistent commitment to honing one’s skills and knowledge.

The demanding workweek ensures that apprentices are immersed in the learning process and actively participate in the daily operations of the tattoo studio, where they absorb crucial insights from their mentors and gain hands-on practice.

Certain mentors offer the flexibility of adjustable working hours, permitting their apprentices to maintain part-time employment to sustain themselves financially. Conversely, some mentors anticipate apprentices to be present for a rigorous schedule of 50 or even 60 hours per week.

Do tattoo apprentices get paid?

Apprentices typically do not receive financial compensation until they reach a point in their apprenticeship, usually around 1 to 2 years into the program, where they begin tattooing clients. At this juncture, they enter into an arrangement known as the “apprentice split.” Under this arrangement, the tattoo shop is entitled to a significant portion of the earnings generated by the apprentice through their tattooing services, typically ranging from 50% to 60%.

The reason for this structure is multi-faceted. First and foremost, it reflects the ongoing mentorship and support the apprentice receives from the tattoo shop, including guidance, access to the studio, and the mentor’s expertise. Furthermore, it acts as a financial incentive for the apprentice to continually improve their skills, build a clientele, and contribute to the reputation of the tattoo studio. This system aligns the interests of the apprentice with those of the shop, fostering a collaborative and mutually beneficial learning environment.

How long until a tattoo apprentice can start tattooing?

In the usual progression of a tattoo apprenticeship, once the apprentice has dedicated approximately a year to performing front desk duties and immersing themselves in the shop’s environment, mentors will initiate the process of introducing them to the art of tattooing. At this juncture, mentors may begin by instructing apprentices on the intricacies of tattooing techniques and might even grant them the opportunity to practice on synthetic skin or, under close supervision, on themselves.

This phase is a pivotal turning point in the apprenticeship journey, as it marks the transition from observational learning to hands-on experience. Apprentices need to gain a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental skills, safety protocols, and artistic aspects of tattooing before they can progress further in their apprenticeship and eventually start working on real clients. This gradual approach helps ensure that apprentices build a strong foundation and gain proficiency in the craft while under the guidance of their experienced mentors.

How long does it take to get a tattoo apprenticeship?

When determining an apprentice’s readiness to transition into a professional tattoo artist, legal requirements and the mentor’s discretion can both have an impact on tattoo education and apprenticeships.

The length of your apprenticeship may depend on several factors, which include:

  • Your Artistic Development: Your progress as an artist, particularly in terms of drawing skills and creative growth, plays a significant role in shaping the duration of your apprenticeship. Your mentor will assess your artistic proficiency and your ability to translate your designs into tattoos.
  • Practice on Fake Skin: The permission to work on synthetic skin during your apprenticeship can significantly expedite your transition to tattooing on real skin. This valuable experience allows you to refine your techniques and gain confidence before working with actual clients.
  • Frequency of Tattooing: The more opportunities you have to practice tattooing, the faster you’ll advance in your apprenticeship. Consistent practice hones your skills, refines your motor skills, and builds your familiarity with various tattooing styles and equipment.
  • Mentor’s Availability: The time and attention your mentor can dedicate to teaching you are crucial factors. A mentor with more availability can offer more guidance, advice, and hands-on training, thereby potentially shortening the apprenticeship period.

Know how long a tattoo apprenticeship lasts to gauge if it’s worth it for you

Are you considering a tattoo apprenticeship, or perhaps you’re already on that exciting journey? Understanding the intricate details of the apprenticeship process is vital for your success. From the duration and financial aspects to the pivotal transition into tattooing and the factors that influence your progress, this comprehensive guide has provided you with invaluable insights. As you embark on your path to becoming a professional tattoo artist, remember that perseverance, dedication, and consistent practice are key. Your apprenticeship is a transformative experience. With the right information and determination, you can make the most of this creative and rewarding career.


  • Hailey Wilkinson

    Hailey is an accomplished writer with eight years of experience in top tech magazines, specializing in all things smart and innovative. As a tech aficionado, she is always up to date with the latest gadgets and appliances. When she's not immersed in the digital world, you can find her collecting sneakers or venturing into the great outdoors. Hailey is a versatile individual with a passion for technology, fashion, and the beauty of nature.