How Much Do Tattoo Shop Owners Make?

The tattoo industry has doubled in the past two years despite the pandemic & if you have exceptional creativity and drawing skills, then becoming a tattoo artist could be just right for you.

But how much do Tattoo shop owners make? What are the challenges you might face in this industry? How much can you expect to earn as an expert and a beginner?

According to IBISWorld, the market size of the tattoo industry is $1.5 bn in 2023 and is only expected to rise in the future.

So if you have all these questions in your head, then this just guide is just the thing you need.

How Much Do Tattoo Shop Owners Make

All You Need To Know About Tattoo Artists

A tattoo artist creates a design on a person’s body using a piercing tattoo needle machine. The design could be custom-made; it could be from a design book or anything else.

Tattoos could be made on a small area of the skin or on a large portion of the skin, depending on the customer’s preference.

Education Requirement

There is no need for a formal education degree to become a tattoo artist. However, if you have a degree in arts, that could give you an upper edge.

People work as apprentices under experienced artists to become professionals in this field.

As you gain more experience and skill as an apprentice, you can start creating clients, and when you have mastered the art of tattooing, you can start your own parlor.

Tattoo Industry

Tattoo artists usually work in tattoo parlors under artists or on their own. Some specialized tattoo artists may work in spa-like settings or can open their own studios as well.

Tattoo artists working under someone else usually do this part-time along with other jobs to supplement their income.

This industry offers a lot of flexibility, and one may even choose to work only on weekends.

Job Trend

As per Fortune Business Insights, the tattoo industry is expected to grow $2.04 billion in 2023 to $3.93 billion by 2030, showing an increase of CAGR of 9.7%.

The positive job trend in the tattoo industry shows it is a good time to make a career in this industry.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Tattoo Business?

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Tattoo Business

The start-up cost for a tattoo business can range between $9000 – $19,000 on average. The largest cost of opening a tattoo studio is for rental space, tattoo equipment, and preparation.

Here’s a list of things that you will need to launch your tattoo business:

  • Chairs and Beds
  • Tattoo machine
  • Sanitary kit
  • Tattoo ink
  • Chemical for anesthetic
  • Chemical for skin sterilization
  • Needles and needles sterilizer
  • Tattoo scanner and design computer
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 – $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 – $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 – $300$250
Website setup$1,000 – $3,000$2,000
Space preparation$3,000 – $6,000$4,500
Studio space rental$2,000 – $4,000$3,000
Tattoo equipment$2,500 – $5,000$3,750
Total$9,050 – $19,100$14,075

What is the Profit Margin in a Tattoo Shop Business?

Starting a tattoo business is easy because of the low start-up cost, and also extremely rewarding.

After deducting all the expenses, tattoo shop owners ideally get to keep a 55% profit margin on average, which is a handsome profit margin if compared to other businesses.

How Much Do Tattoo Shop Owners Make In a Day?

How Much Do Tattoo Shop Owners Make In a Day

Each tattoo parlor is unique, and the revenue for a tattoo shop could vary from one shop owner to another.

Some tattoo shops offer very detailed and customized work for which customers are willing to spend more. And some tattoo shops offer general, quick, and affordable solutions.

With an average ticket price of over $100 per transaction, a tattoo shop owner makes $638 in revenue on a typical day. But remember that the per day revenue of a tattoo shop owner could vary greatly.

For example, one of the priciest tattoo parlors makes $277 per transaction, and the lowest one makes $50 in revenue per transaction.

Again, the average per transaction in a day varies greatly as well. For example, some tattoo parlors see 13 transactions being done on a day on average, while some see only two.

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make?

A Tattoo artist’s salary can vary depending on their state, years of experience, their skill, etc.

But according to Zippia, tattoo artists in the United States make $51,867 a year on average, with the salary typically ranging between $24,000 and $108,000 yearly.

Additionally, the average hourly pay for a tattoo artist in the United States is $24.94 per hour. 

Tattoo Artist Average Salary

Experience levelYearly salaryAnnual salary
Junior level tattoo artist (25th percentile)$35,000$16.83
Mid level tattoo artist (50th percentile)$51,867$24.94
Senior level tattoo artist (75th percentile)$76,000$36.54


How Much Does a Beginner Tattoo Artist Make?

How Much Does a Beginner Tatto Artist Make

As a beginner tattoo artist, it is hard to charge insanely high rates that experienced tattoo artists charge.

However, on average, beginner tattoo artists make $15,000 – $23,000 annually. The pay also varies depending on which state the tattoo artist lives in.

So yes, the pay is quite low, but this profession requires time so that you can build a reputation and make your name as a tattoo artist known.

How Much Does an Experienced Tattoo Artist Make?

The profession of a tattoo artist can be extremely rewarding given that you are patient and, with your skills, are able to make your name in the industry.

According to Indeed, some of the highest-paid tattoo artists make $150,000 annually on average, with the exception of celebrity tattoo artists like Ed Hardyamong others, whose pay cannot be captured in statistics.

10 Highest Paying States For Tattoo Artists In U.S.

California is the highest-paying state for tattoo artists, with an average salary of $63,870 a year and an hourly rate of $30.71, followed by New York & Wisconsin.

RankStateAverage Salary
2New York$64,522
4New Hampshire$58,088

10 Highest Paying Cities For Tattoo Artists In U.S.

The highest-paying city for tattoo artists in the U.S. is New York, where tattoo artists make $31.01 an hour or $64,502 a year, followed by Los Angeles and Madison.

RankCityAverage Salary
1New York, NY$64,502
2Los Angeles, CA$63,546
3Madison, WI$54,477
4Sanford, NC$54,303
5Bismarck, ND$48,282
6Atlanta, GA$47,572
7Virginia Beach, VA$46,196
8Portland, OR$42,034
9Houston, TX$40,753
10Chicago, IL$40,562


Pros & Cons of Starting a Tattoo Studio

Pros of Starting a Tattoo Studio

  • Growing industry
  • Profitable
  • Offers an outlet to show your creativity
  • Can be done on part-time basis

Cons of Starting a Tattoo Studio

  • Initial years can be struggling
  • Crowded market

Tattoo Parlors Make the Most Money On Which Week Days?

Avergae week for tattoo parlors

As you can see from the graph above, 44% of tattoo owners’ revenue comes from Fridays and Saturdays alone. For a fact, many tattoo parlors (58% average) remain closed on Sunday.

And as it is clear from the graph, the average number of transactions remains the same throughout the week, with Fridays and Saturdays seeing the most customer footfall.

Which is the Busiest Season For Tattoo Parlors in america?

February is the month of the year when the revenue for tattoo parlors starts climbing quickly and remains so throughout early spring.

Then in summer, things remain fairly consistent and drop during September and October. You can also see small spikes in November and December during the festival season.

So, the spring season is the busiest season for tattoo parlors, as more people are eager to get their new tattoo settled before the season warms up and they can show more skin.

Another reason why the spring season sees the most spike in tattoo parlors is because of the spring break season for colleges across the U.S.

What Are the Busiest Days of the Year For Tattoo Parlors?

What Are the Busiest Days of the Year For Tattoo Parlors

We have already seen that Fridays, Saturdays, and Spring season are usually the busiest time for tattoo parlors.

So as you can imagine, Fridays and Saturdays of the spring season make up for the busiest days of the year for tattoo parlors.

Based on this, here’s a list of the busiest days of the last year for tattoo parlors:

  • Friday, September 13th
  • Friday, December 13th
  • Saturday, April 20th
  • Saturday, September 14th
  • Saturday, March 9th

How To Become A Tattoo Artist?

Factors That Determine the Pay of Tattoo Artists

Here are the most common factors that affect the pay of Tattoo artists:

Skill & level of experience

Obviously, the level of experience you have plays the most important role in determining your pay. And with more experience, you also get to hone your skill. The two combinations together allow a person to charge more or less.


Another key factor that affects your pay as a tattoo artist is your location because some cities and states pay more than others.

For example, New York is the highest-paying city for tattoo artists, with the average hourly pay being $31.01.

So if you are working from a location that pays more to tattoo artists, you will earn more.


Speed means how quickly you can finish a job as a tattoo artist and can be supported if you have enough tattoo professionals along with equipment to work with.

The faster you do a job, the more room you can create to take more jobs, along with saving the precious time of your customers.

Clientele Size

Of course, your clientele size matters a lot when it comes to making more money as a tattoo artist. If you have more clients, then you will make enough; it is as simple as that.

Complexity of Tattoos

Tattoos come in all forms and sizes and range from Japanese, Neo-traditional to realism tattoo styles, etc.

The more simple the design, the lesser would be the pay. Similarly, you can charge more for an intricate design.

Understanding Splits in a Tattoo Shop

Understanding Splits in a Tattoo Shop

An unfortunate thing about the tattoo industry is that many tattoo artists who are working for someone else do not always get fair pay.

And if you are a beginner tattoo artist working in a tattoo parlor, then it is easier for you to get fooled. Here’s how the splits in a tattoo shop work:

60/40 Split

The most common kind of Split in a tattoo shop is 60/40 Split, where 60% of the transaction money goes to the artist and 40% goes to the shop.

In this type of Split, you are supposed to supply all your disposables, and the tattoo shop might only offer you a desk and a place.

If you are a popular tattoo artist who brings in a lot of clients, then you can negotiate a higher split for yourself. And if you are new to the industry, then you can expect a lower split even.

50/50 Split

The 50/50 split is another kind of Split, but you, as an artist, should be expecting the shop to provide you with tattoo supplies, including ink, cling wrap, ink caps, vaseline, etc.

In addition to this, they should also help bring in more customers by running ads and doing advertising.

Otherwise, you will just get ripped off as you are giving away 50% of your earnings.

40 or below

The only time when you should be accepting anything less than 40% is when you are doing an apprenticeship.

If someone is employing you full-time with this price, then you should run the other way.

Wrap Up

The tattoo industry is booming, with Millinealls leading the way and with at least half of them getting at least one tattoo.

If you are thinking about pursuing this profession, then now might be a good time for you.

In this guide, we answered your question on “How Much Do Tattoo Shop Owners Make?” along with other key insights that will help you to analyze whether this career is right for you or not.


How should I price my tattoo service?

The average price for getting a tattoo done in the United States lies between $150 – $450, and the larger ones can cost even more.

So you can price your tattoo service depending on your experience level, skills, and, of course, the size and design of the tattoo within this range.

Can tattooing be self taught?

Although tattooing can be self-taught, it is strongly advised against it.

This is because tattooing is a risky and complex job that requires an understanding of equipment, sanitization, skin anatomy, hygiene, etc.

So if you want to learn tattooing, doing an apprenticeship is your way.

Is tattoo business profitable?

Yes, the tattoo business can be really profitable with high-profit margins. The key is to be patient and hone your skill.

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