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The tattoo art industry used to be somewhat "closed door," with families passing their knowledge on to their offspring and avoiding teaching others for fear of educating the competition. Today, it's a career for anyone with a passion for creating art on the human body. While there are no specific educational requirements, artists typically complete an apprenticeship prior to becoming licensed to operate independently.
How much a tattoo artist earns depends on his experience, the quality of his work and where he lives. Simply Hired reports the average income for a tattoo artist in 2014 was $32,000 a year. Indeed.com puts the average salary at $26,000 nationwide. O*Net Online does not have a separate category for tattoo artists. Instead, it lumps all artists into the broader category of "artists and related workers, all other." The median pay in this field was $53,720 a year as of 2013. Pay is also influenced by whether the artist owns his own studio or not. Tattoo artists who work in someone else's parlor must pay a percentage of their earnings to the owner.
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