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What Is a Tattoo Shop Assistant's Salary?

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Tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable than they were just a few decades ago. Correspondingly, more and more people are becoming interested in body art and modification and getting tattoos. If you are an avid tattoo enthusiast, you may be able to find an interesting and artistic career as a tattoo assistant. The type of salary you will earn can vary considerably depending upon the areas of assistance you provide -- artistic, clerical or a combination of the two.

Apprentice Salary

The most common tattoo assistant position in the industry is an apprenticeship. Tattoo apprentices are artists who enter into an agreement with studio owners that enables them to learn the art of tattooing in exchange for assisting the owner -- or artists -- around the tattoo shop. Typically, if you are assisting tattoo artists through an apprenticeship you will not be paid. In some instances, you may even be required to pay for your apprenticeship. In either scenario, you can expect to assist the shop owner and tattoo artists in a variety of duties such as making stencils, preparing customers for tattoo procedures, sterilizing equipment and cleaning the tattoo studio. You will also perform several tattoos free of charge as part of your training process.

Tattoo Receptionists and Assistants

Many tattoo studios who are not interested in training new tattoo artists but require assistance with day-to-day operational tasks hire receptionists and shop assistants to lighten their load. As a receptionist in a tattoo studio you will handle basic clerical and reception duties such as greeting guests, answering phones, taking appointments, showing flash art and price scheduling to browsing customers and explaining the tattoo process. Tattoo assistants typically take on the same duties as apprentices, however they are not intensively trained to perform tattoos; do they attempt to. Depending on the tattoo studio, you may be able to acquire a job that incorporates the duties of receptionist and assistant in one position. According to the "Simply Hired" career website, tattoo shop receptionists and assistants are earning between $14,000 and $34,000 per year in 2011.


Whether you are working as a tattoo assistant, receptionist or unpaid apprentice, you can often times expect to receive cash tips from clients. Apprentices who perform tattoos do not traditionally receive payment, however it is customary for patrons to tip the artist and volunteer gratuities are yours to keep. Assistants and receptionists also receive occasional tips from customers -- though not as frequently as artists -- for assisting artists and ensuring the comfort of clients; such as bringing them water, coffee or reading materials.

Co-owner or Investing Assistant

Though the actual amount of income will vary by establishment and individual business agreements, in some instances a tattoo shop assistant is entitled to a salary based on the amount of profit generated by the tattoo studio. Profit-sharing payment schedules are most typically applied by tattoo shops who employ family members or assistants who have a financial investment in the business. It is difficult to determine your exact salary as a profit-sharing tattoo assistant, but reports that in 2011 tattoo shop owners can earn between $35,276 and $57,421 per year. Depending on your individual agreement, you are likely to earn a salary within these regions.


Michelle Renee is a professional trainer and quality assurance consultant in the career, education and customer service industries, with two decades of experience in food/beverage and event coordinating management. Renee has been published by Lumino and Career Flight as well as various food, education and business publications.

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