How to Become a Licensed Tattoo Artist in Canada, 2023

To become a licensed tattoo artist in Canada this year, 2023, there are a few steps that you must take. This guide will outline the process and requirements needed to get started in this exciting and creative industry. So, whether you are an immigrant looking to make a new life in Canada or a current resident looking to break into the tattooing business, read on for all the information you need!

Who is a Tattoo Artist?

A tattoo artist is a person who creates tattoos. They use the art form of drawing, handwriting, coloring, and painting to create different designs on human skin by pricking pigment into the body.

Professional Tattoo Artists, or tattoo artists, start their careers by drawing artistic doodles to creations on human canvas.

According to the best artists in Vancouver, “to become a tattoo artist, you must learn how to draw.” Learn how to draw from an established professional at school or participate in free workshops offered by different associations dealing with tattoos. One place where you can do it.

What does a Tattooist do?

The work of a Tattoo Artist, or “tattooer,” is highly creative since they are generating designs that will likely be with their clients for the rest of their lives. It takes time and practice to get good at tattooing, but how much could you make per annum as a Tattooist working in Canada? That is about hundreds of thousands each year! A professional tattoo artist in Canada can earn between $75,000 -$100,000 per year, depending on how in-demand their skills are within that specific town or city.

Requirements to become a Licensed Tattoo Artist in Canada

  1. In Canada, a tattooist must be at least 18 years of age.
  2. The tattooist must graduate from a tattoo school certified by an appropriate provincial or federal agency or have received training under a certified teacher for at least 500 hours.
  3. Suppose the candidate is being trained under another tattoo artist. In that case, that person should have been a Certified Teacher themselves and must be registered with any provincial body before they can register as an apprentice with them. The teacher must have been teaching how to perform tattoos safely according-to health, safety, and infection control standards for at least two years before applying as an instructor as per Canadian law.
  4. Have good knowledge of how to create tattoos by hand, prepare tattoo equipment, and perform first aid.
  5. Apply for a license showing how good they are at their job, judged by three or more experienced tattooists.
  6. Write some formal documentation proving that the candidate has worked as a Tattooist for no less than 2000 hours under another registered Tattoo Artist before applying for registration.
  7. Pass an exam conducted by the licensing body of their respective province or territory before receiving their license if they meet all requirements. The exam usually consists of two parts: practical and theoretical, which will test how much knowledge about tattooing they have acquired throughout their time working in this industry, either as an apprentice or a trainee.

License to Tattoo in Canada

Every province has regulations regarding how one can become an official Licensed Tattoo Artist. In addition, federal branches also govern how this profession should be carried out, such as the Canadian Government’s Health Canada website, which offers an abundance of information on how a Tattooist can become a Licensed professional.

Top 6 Schools to learn Tattoo in Canada

There are schools in Canada that offer tattoos and other related programs:

1. Toronto, Ontario: Native Learning Centre (NLC) offers a wide range of courses which includes how to become a Tattoo Artist, piercers, and how work at a pawn shop, to name a few. They have provided the best tattoo training since 1996 and use experienced teachers from well-known studios in the area.

2. Montreal, Quebec: Atelier Dusanne provides tattooing and how to be an electrician. The school is best known for its ability to create realistic tattoos with shading and how to give good customer service since they believe that it is essential how much attention one gives when working on human skin.

3. Brampton, Ontario: The TATTOO MUSEUM provides a wide range of how-to courses, from creating tattoos to running a parlor. They offer programs in different styles, including American traditional and Japanese traditional.

4. Brandon, Manitoba: 4 P’s Tattoo Academy is Canada’s first federally approved training center which offers an excellent curriculum that trains students on how to be skilled tattoo artists. The school teaches students how to do outlines, color, shading, and work on skin with needles.

5. Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Wicked Needle offers tattooing classes for individuals interested in getting started in the business or even people who would like to bring their skills up-to-date.

6. Edmonton, Alberta: Demographic Tattoos combines tattooing and how to do piercings in a 3-week course.

The pros of being a Tattoo Artist in Canada

1. Tattooists make a great living. When combining their salary and how much they charge for a tattoo, a professional Tattoo artist can earn anywhere between $75,000 -$100,000 per year, depending on how well-known they are within that city or town.

2. It’s easy to find work as most parlors provide how-to courses if the tattooist is looking for somewhere to learn from scratch or add more skills to their bag of skills.

3. Tattooists can work anywhere in Canada as long as they have a license and how-to knowledge. Virtual jobs are available for those who do not want to leave their homes, and how great it is that this career does not require any additional degrees or how hard it is to get the license.

4. A tattooist with enough experience can open up their parlor and even train apprentices on how to work on skin, prepare equipment and draw unique tattoos.

How to start your Tattoo Artist Career in Canada?

The steps to becoming a respected tattoo artist in Canada are the same as how it is done worldwide, albeit with a little twist. To start, you’ll need to:

1. Go to a recognized Tattoo School/Tattoo Apprenticeship:

Tattoo courses take place in vocational or private schools, tattoo apprenticeship parlors, and similar establishments such as art colleges, which specialize in adult professional education.

2. Get Licensed by your Provincial Government:

Tattooists are legitimate professionals in Canada. However, to practice legally, you must get licensed or registered after completing a government-approved training course that includes how to sterilize the workplace and safely apply pigments to the skin.

3. Decide which tattoo style you want to pursue:

There are various types of tattoos. You can even combine different styles into one unique tattoo, like how you see many designs on the hands or neck of people nowadays. Popular Tattoo Styles include Geometric shapes, Old School, New School, Japanese style, and Tribal.

4. Obtain work experience/start working as a freelance artist. There are many Canadian cities to choose from.

Immigration Routes for Tattooists in Canada

1. One-way immigrants can settle in Canada and become a Tattooist is to get their Permanent Resident status after getting the PR card, which will allow them access to government and community services.

To facilitate the process of becoming a PR through programs such as provincial nominees, prospective Tattooist immigrants need to convince the immigration officer that they will be able to add more skills to the Canadian economy. This can be proved by showing how much experience you have in your home country.

2. Applying through Express Entry is another way to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker (Tattooist) because it has categories that include how many years of working experience one has in a specific field, what skills one has acquired while working, etc.

Salary of Professional Tattoo Artists in Canada

In Canada, how much a Tattooist makes depends on the scale of the business and how well it does. However, it is a well-paid profession that can reward those who succeed.

Although public knowledge suggests a yearly gross income of between $75,000 to $100,000, PayScale’s research revealed that how much money you can make as a Tattoo Artist in Canada varies greatly based on your skill level. The mid-range for earnings is $26K-$41K annually or 12-$18 hourly.

Do you tip Tattoo Artists in Canada?

Tipping a Tattooist is not mandatory anywhere in Canada. Although a Tattooist’s salary is decent, the income may be supplemented by tips from happy customers. It is always nice to round up your tip and give something extra.

A tip could range from 10 percent of your bill to $5 or $10 if you are impressed with their work. A good rule of thumb: If you feel you could offer them a tip for their service, do it! They will also appreciate it and ensure they do a fantastic job on your next visit.

Best Tattoo Artists in Canada

Just how good a Tattooist is, is up to you and your tastes. If you prefer bold and vibrant colors, you may not like the work of someone who tattoos dark and simple lines.

However, certain artists stand out from others for their unique style and superb craftsmanship. Some of them have been profiled on television shows such as Miami Ink or LA Ink. In addition, their work has been displayed in museums such as the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, where visitors marvel at how detail-oriented it can be.

Here are some famous Tattoo Artists in Canada whose work stands out:

  1. Darren Brass: He works out of Vancouver, BC, and has a fantastic sense of color without needing much shading. His portraits are incredibly detailed. He is best known for making the tattoos look like they are painted on rather than inked.
  2. Stephanie Tamez: This artist has been featured on Miami Ink. She now runs her shop, specializing in tiny and elaborate designs that resemble sketches more than anything else. Her work can be seen at Eternal Tattoo Studio, 1107 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1W3, Canada.
  3. Tyler Rowland Gowan: He worked at Black Line Studio, which was located in Scarborough but has since closed down. Now he works out of The Infinite Body, located at 196 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2L5, Canada.
  4. Tim Hendricks: Perhaps one of the most distinctive artists in the tattoo world. His clean and crisp line work allows his shading to be soft, unique, and eye-catching. He has worked on various projects with celebrities such as Lil Wayne, Cara Delevingne, David Beckham, and Rihanna.

Legal age for Tattoos in Canada

The legal age to get a tattoo in Canada is 18+; however, more experienced artists can work with teens with parental consent. You may want to check with the tattoo laws in your jurisdiction or province. On the other hand, if you’re young and thinking of working as a Tattooist, check our article on the legal age to work in Canada.


In conclusion, how much money you make as a Tattooist in Canada depends on how well you do your job. Suppose you are good if people come back to get their tattoos redone or if they tell other people how amazing you are. With the rise of social media today, it is easy to spread the word about how great someone is at tattooing! Keep that in mind when starting, and don’t be afraid to ask how much other artists charge for similar designs.

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