How to Get a Tattoo License – NJ

The New Jersey Department of Health doesn't issue individual tattoo licenses. Instead, you must receive approval from the local health department where your body art establishment (tattoo shop) is located. The tattoo shop itself is licensed and inspected by the local department of health.

This article will cover tattooing and body art in general. In the state of New Jersey, the term “body art” refers to tattooing, permanent makeup, and body piercing.

Tattoo Artists Must Get Approval from the Local Department of Health

new jersey tattoo by doctah jones

New Jersey does not offer a tattoo license for artists. Instead, you will be approved by your local health department once you have 2000 documented hours of experience.

If you have less than 2000 hours of experience performing tattoos, you must go to an approved tattoo school or work as an apprentice under the supervision of a licensed practitioner until you get to the 2000 hour milestone.

Once you reach 2000 hours of supervised work, you can become a practitioner by submitting the following:

Photos of 10 tattoos that you have personally performed along with consent forms or testaments from 3 clients

Successfully complete a 3-hour Infection Control Course and an Infection Control Examination conducted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Health Academy. (You’ll submit your exam scores.)

Once you reach 2000 hours of supervised work, you can become a practitioner by submitting the following:
  • Photos of 10 tattoos that you have personally performed along with consent forms or testaments from 3 clients
  • Successfully complete a 3-hour Infection Control Course and an Infection Control Examination conducted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Health Academy. (You’ll submit your exam scores.)

If you have more than 2000 documented* hours, then you can be approved to work as a tattoo artist. Who approves you is determined by which local health department’s jurisdiction your tattoo parlor is located in.

*Documented hours can be proven by employment records, business records, references from previous employers, etc.

If your county has additional regulations, you can find them here.

Rules for Tattoo Artists

Approved practitioners are expected to follow all the health regulations put in place by the state of New Jersey. Subsection 7 of the state’s Body Art Procedures has specific rules for tattoo artists about equipment, aftercare, etc.

Permanent Cosmetics Certification

Artists that want to provide permanent cosmetics must complete a 40 hour body art program approved by the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals. If you already have experience with permanent cosmetics, you can send in one picture of each procedure listed below. If you do not have experience, you have to perform five of each type of procedure listed below under the direct supervision of a practitioner:

  • Eye brow simulation
  • Lip liner
  • Full lip color
  • Eye liner/eyelash enhancer

Body Piercing Certification

If you have less than 1000 hours of experience performing tattoos, you must go to an approved tattoo school or work as an apprentice under the supervision of a licensed practitioner until you get to the 1000 hour milestone.

Once you reach 1000 hours of supervised work, you can become a practitioner by submitting the following:

Photos of 10 tattoos that you have personally performed along with consent forms or testaments from 3 clients

Successfully complete 3-hour Infection Control Course and an Infection Control Examination conducted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Health Academy). (You’ll submit your exam scores.)

Once you reach 1000 hours of supervised work, you can become a practitioner by submitting the following:
  • Photos of 10 tattoos that you have personally performed along with consent forms or testaments from 3 clients
  • Successfully complete 3-hour Infection Control Course and an Infection Control Examination conducted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Health Academy). (You’ll submit your exam scores.)

If you have more than 1000 documented* hours, then you can be approved to work as a tattoo artist. Who approves you is determined by which local health department’s jurisdiction your tattoo parlor is located in.

*Supporting documentation can include employment records, business records, references from previous employers, etc.

If your county has additional regulations, you can find them here.

Ear Piercing Certification

If you only want to do ear piercing, the requirements are less intense. You have to go to a school, body art program, or work as an apprentice and perform 3 lobe piercings and 3 cartilage piercings. 

You cannot perform piercing on someone under 18 without the written consent of a parent or legal guardian and making a copy of their photo ID.

Body Art Establishments

New Jersey body art establishments must get a permit. There are specific requirements for ventilation, bathrooms, and the layout of your shop. You can find these requirements under subchapter 3 of the state’s Body Art Procedures.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

examples of students own tattoo

Learning the steps you need to take to get licensed is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain. When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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