How to Get a Tattoo License – South Carolina

The state of South Carolina does not require a tattoo artist license to become a tattoo artist, but it does require certain training and certifications.

South Carolina body art by tattoo artist

There may be tattoo licenses or tattoo certification required at the county level. Check with your local health department to see if there are any regulations for your area according to your local governing body.

State Requirements



Before someone can become a tattoo artist, they have to be a tattoo artist trainee (apprentice). The trainee has to complete a minimum of 1000 hours of tattoo procedure training within the last 36 months under the direct supervision of an experienced tattoo artist. 

The experienced artist will sign a written statement saying that the trainee completed the 1000-hour training.


Age Requirements

To tattoo professionally, you must be 21 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.


Bloodborne Pathogens Training

Blood borne pathogens training for tattooing typically covers topics such as blood borne pathology, universal precautions, infectious diseases, health and environmental control, and standard precautions.

The course is usually taught by a licensed physician or a professional who also practices body tattooing. (Permanent makeup artists also have to take a bloodborne pathogens training course, however their practical training will be different.) 

You can find approved training here.


Tattoo/Body Piercing Infection Control Training

Tattoo/Body Piercing Infection Control Training covers a variety of topics, including the proper use of personal protective equipment, disinfection and sterilization procedures, and waste management. Students will also learn how to effectively clean and sanitize their work areas.

By the end of the course, students should have a good understanding of how to reduce the risk of infection in their tattoo and body piercing clients, primarily through environmental control and post-tattoo infection control after the client leaves the tattoo facility.

You can find approved training here

Successful Completion of American Red Cross First Aid Certification

Tattoo artists must also have a current American Red Cross certification for first aid. You will need to provide the state board with evidence of successful completion of this course in order to perform tattooing, often via a certified copy.

American Red Cross First Aid training teaches you how to respond to common medical emergencies. The course covers a wide range of topics, including how to control bleeding, splint broken bones, and provide CPR.

You can find approved training here

Adult CPR Certification

You need to be prepared in case your client has a medical emergency. You can find approved training here

Other Courses as Needed

Your county may have additional courses required to become a tattoo artist.

Turn in Your Application

Submit your application to the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology for review. 

Once you are approved, you can start tattooing professionally.

Ongoing Certification Requirements

If the county requires certification, tattoo artists must be certified every year. The cost of the certification obtained will vary depending on which programs you take.

An out of state tattoo artist must have a current and valid tattoo license or permit from another state that has requirements that meet the minimum requirements of South Carolina's regulation (i.e. 1,000 hours of training, etc.) as confirmed in writing by the license from that state.

If your county has additional regulations, they will delegate tattooing procedures here

How to Get a Tattoo Facility License

The licensing, health and environmental control requirements detailed above are for aspiring tattoo artists. If you are interested in opening a tattoo parlor, you will need to meet the below requirements.

In South Carolina, any business that offers tattooing services must obtain a business license from the state. The process for getting a license is fairly straightforward and can be completed in a matter of a few consecutive weeks.

First, the applicant must submit an application to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The application must include proof of business liability insurance, as well as a detailed description of the tattooing procedures that will be used.

Once the application is received, DHEC will inspect the premises to ensure that it meets all state sanitation and safety standards. These on site inspections will occur every year to ensure that the proposed business is in substantial compliance with state safety mandates. Often these on site inspections occur unannounced.

If everything is in order, the businesses will be issued a license. There is an annual fee for the license, which must be renewed every year.

Once a business has been licensed, it must comply with all state regulations (based on a surgeon's medical opinion and the inspections of medical examiners) related to infection control, sterilization, and contact with body fluids. By following these simple steps, businesses can ensure that they are providing safe and legal tattooing services in South Carolina.

Things You Should Know:

It is illegal to tattoo a minor without consent from a parent or legal guardian.

It is illegal to tattoo any part of the head, face, or neck of another person. (There are different rules for permanent make up artists/microblading.)

Medical examiners may close a tattoo facility at any time due to health code violations based on health standards set forth by the South Carolina code of health.

Things You Should Know:

It is illegal to tattoo a minor without consent from a parent or legal guardian.

It is illegal to tattoo any part of the head, face, or neck of another person. (There are different rules for permanent make up artists/microblading.)

Medical examiners may close a tattoo facility at any time due to health code violations based on health standards set forth by the South Carolina code of health.

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
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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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