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North Carolina doesn't license tattoo artists based on their skill. However, the state's public health department regulates tattooing for safety reasons, to prevent the spread of infection through unsterilized equipment. The department requires tattoo artists to be licensed. Tattoo parlors must also be licensed. Artists must renew their certification annually. The fee varies in each county, but a check of several counties at the time of publication showed a range between $200 and $300 for the first certification, with some counties charging less for renewals.
Learn the laws and regulations associated with tattooing in North Carolina. For instance, tattooing a person under the age of 18 is against the law. You must keep records on the name and address of each customer for at least two years. It's illegal to smoke, drink or eat while working on a customer. Any post-tattoo infection that a customer tells you about must be reported to the local health department.
Find a tattoo shop where you can work. Tattoo licenses are issued to specific artists working at a specific shop; if you move to another shop, you must reapply for a license and pay another fee. If you are new to the field, apply to be an apprentice at a shop. You will need to be licensed whether you are an artist or an apprentice.
Complete an application for licensing through the North Carolina Department of Environmental Health. Look on the website of the county where you live for a downloadable form on the health department's page. Submit the form at least 30 days before you plan to begin work and include payment.
Ronda Carter is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of journalism experience. She has written a weekly syndicated column on consumer issues. She works as a public relations consultant, advising clients on media strategies and business development. Carter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of North Carolina at Greensboro.