Frequently Asked Questions

why is this program so "expensive"?

We understand the program looks “expensive”, however, our program has expanded from a private course, to an accredited, 6 month (750 hour) fully equipped, certificate program, eligible for Alberta Student Aid funding.

We are the first program in Canada to receive this accreditation and be recognized as a Post Secondary institution, AND our course includes many components that would never be offered in a traditional apprenticeship. We are proud of how much we have put into it to make it what it is today.

Some States in the US are requiring tattoo artists to have completed some sort of formal training in order to be allowed to operate. There is no doubt that Canada will soon follow suit. Customers are already starting to seek out artists that not only know what they are doing, but are certified and safe in their practice.

We have an extensive admissions process to ensure that we are enrolling aspiring tattoo artists. Our process weeds out those who think tattooing is easy and leaves room for those who actually want to commit to the industry.

Our 6 month full time program is very close to a part time apprenticeship in terms of hours of actual instruction.

Please keep in mind that the benefit to our program is full time supervised instruction which is preferable to learning on your own for many, or waiting for some time to be taught again in-house.

You’re not just paying to become a tattoo artist or a piercer, you’re investing in your career.

How do I repay my Student Loans?

A common misconception is that students have to pay out-of-pocket to take our program. Alberta College of Body Art is a provincially recognized Post Secondary Institution – this means our program is considered a College Course, so our costs are similar to that of other College Courses and students are able to apply to Student Aid for Funding to take our program, just like you would for GPRC, etc.

A common question/concern is having to repay the loans while attending our training program – so we would like to provide you with further student loan information.

While you’re a student – Loans are interest-free and you don’t need to make payments.

Grace period – The first 6 months after you leave school, beginning the first day of the month after your end date. (Loans are interest-free, and you don’t need to make payments).

Repayment – Begins 6 months after you leave school (Interest is added to your loan balance monthly).

When Repayment begins – A monthly repayment schedule is set up for you automatically.

You can also, Customize your loan repayments:
You can adjust your repayment details at any time to accommodate your life and financial situation.

You can:
– Change your repayment schedule to match when you get paid
– Adjust the frequency of your repayments from monthly to bi-weekly or weekly
– Increase or decrease your payment amount

For further information, as well an informational video you can visit the link below:

If you have any other questions/concerns, please send us a message and we would be happy to address them!


**Student Aid has an approval process, we cannot guarantee that you will be approved through student aid however we can provide you with eligibility information.

**Student Aid approval is not an immediate Program Approval – the ABCBA Admissions Process must be completed.

**Repayment schedules and rules depend on the Province from which you applied – this post is regarding Alberta Student Aid Repayment Information.

Why should I take this Program vs. an “Apprenticeship”?

 “May as well take an apprenticeship,” “Why not just get an apprenticeship, they’re free” “Why should I take this course, as opposed to going to a local shop and getting an apprenticeship?” We get asked this A LOT. Comments get made like this A LOT. However one thing people tend to forget or even overlook is that a traditional apprenticeship is not actually FREE and they are certainly not guaranteed for you or anyone.

Mind you we have NO disrespect for traditional apprenticeships – they most definitely served their purpose when that was all that was available to an aspiring artist at the time. But the times are changing and so is the industry!

To get an apprenticeship you must have a portfolio – in most, if not all cases, you need your own machine setups and supplies. You must be available for any teaching whenever that may take place, whether it’s right as soon as the shop opens, or right at the end of the day, waiting for an appointment to come along.

Most artists wouldn’t necessarily pass up on a tattoo that would make them money for an apprentice to do it (you’d be lucky to get a tattoo of your own within the first couple months of starting your apprenticeship).

Whatever is agreed upon by you and the shop owner/artist, you need to do and in most cases you need to do it for FREE – this could mean answering phones, booking appointments, sweeping, mopping and setting up stations.

While this does provide SOME insight into the world of tattooing it really doesn’t get you READY for it. You cost yourself time/labor or you end up paying potentially thousands of dollars for an unplanned, sporadic apprenticeship with no real guidelines or end goal.

Alberta College of Body Art:
We have created a 6 month (24-week) STRUCTURED program. Our program is accredited, meaning we are recognized as a Post Secondary Institution – which means our students are eligible to receive Student Aid Funding just like any other College. We are the FIRST Tattoo/Piercing Training Program in all of CANADA to receive this kind of recognition which puts us ahead of any other tattoo or piercing training out there.

We have an application/admission process that ensures only serious, aspiring artists are being enrolled into our program (there is a common misconception that we will accept anyone into the program that throws money at us…. that’s definitely not the case!) 99% of our applicants have proven they are capable of making art in a variety of mediums! AND all of our pasts Graduates are now in a shop or tattoo from an AHS approved home studio.

We have a course calendar that is constantly being monitored and updated to ensure each topic is being taught at the correct time and that we are providing enough time for the students to learn and understand the topics. We have weekly quizzes, and a final exam to ensure the information that is being taught is also being retained by each student.

We have WEEKS of practice on fake skin, BEFORE you even touch real skin to ensure that you are ready to tattoo or pierce a live model. We provide supervision and support from experienced tattoo artists and piercers during the entire course. You get industry information right from industry professionals themselves.

We help you BUILD a portfolio for you to take and update as you go! You are given EVERYTHING you need to succeed and once you’ve completed the course you are eligible to purchase any of our tattoo kits. (If a student fails or is unable to complete the program – a kit is not issued – this is to make sure no one tattoos without proper training, as diseases can be spread this way).

We give you a peek at the world of tattooing & piercing without throwing you into it unprepared and under experienced. You will leave here with a new appreciation for the industry along with the knowledge, tools and support to help you succeed on your own.

Do I receive any equipment with this course?

Necessary program supplies are provided throughout the entire duration of the course – students will receive a basic setup upon successful completion of the program (included in their tuition).

We have moved away from supplying recommended tattoo kits for purchase as, in the past, we have had students opt out of purchasing our tattoo kits, as they wished to purchase their own products – and that’s okay – there is an abundance of different kinds of supplies – and we realistically just cannot have them all on hand –

SO –

Alternative product lists and recommended sites to purchase from can be provided to students who would like to personalize their tattoo supply – we want our students to be able to customize their own setup to suit their own preferences!

Do you have accommodations?

Our students are eligible to apply for dorm accommodations through Northwestern Polytechnic’s Housing and Residence Department! (Formerly GPRC).

All future out-of-town students who are enrolled in our tattoo or piercing program and require accommodations for the course duration, can apply
directly through the NWP link below. Additional facility information can be found there as well as the contact number.

As a representative of our program, all students will be expected to review the NWP Residence Handbook to ensure all guidelines are  followed to ensure this option continues to be available for our program going forward.

*** Please note: all housing applications are handled through the NWP Housing & Residence Department. This option has been offered to our students as a courtesy only. We do not determine costs, eligibility, application deadlines, rules or acceptance to their facilities. Applications are for one resident – family housing is not available for our students.

NWP Housing Information – CLICK HERE

What transportation is available?

Grande Prairie has public transit, and taxis are also available.

For Public Bus Pass Information – CLICK HERE

Do you offer other courses?

At this time, only Tattooing & Piercing courses are available. We plan to add more workshops in the future, including Advanced Shading, Watercolor, Cover Ups, Dermals, Genital Piercings, etc. These will be available only when the Student has reached sufficient proficiency in general tattooing & piercing.

Do you offer this course online?

Our Body Modification Core Components and tattoo/piercing theory will be available online starting in April 2023, however, due to the physical tattooing & piercing components, we are unable to provide every aspect of this training online as our fake skin and live skin portions need to be supervised in person.

Please inquire for more information.

What if I have tattooing or piercing experience?

The course cannot be split up at this time. The entire course must be completed in full. This includes individual components such as St. John Ambulance, Art Class, etc. Our goal in the future is to offer stand alone workshops such as portraits, watercolors, health and safety etc.

is this a tattoo shop or a real class?

The Program is in a classroom setting with a class schedule. We have a “Public Shop” area for the portion of the program that students will be tattooing or piercing on real skin. (Model days & Public days).

 However, we are not an actual tattoo shop that accepts regular appointments or walk ins. Please inquire with Cree8iv Ink for tattoo appointments.

Do I get to work in a Tattoo/Piercing Shop after training?

Securing a job is something that is up to you. No one is guaranteed a job when they finish school, college or university. You WILL however, have all of the qualifications to apply for said job once you complete our training. If you get turned down from a shop, your particular field allows you to open your own facility! (Following provincial/municipal guidelines of course)!

** Alberta College of Body Art does not guarantee shop placement after this training. Some shops will be severely against the idea of a Tattoo/Piercing “School”. Please be aware of this possibility.

Taking a 1 week Course or learning on your own vs. Our Program

Given that the average apprenticeship lasts anywhere from 1-2 years in length, we feel that condensing the training into anything less than a 24-week Program is unrealistic in achieving our training goals. When you think of what there is to learn ranging from the history and traditions of tattooing & piercing, to understanding the human skin, safe & sterilization practices, building & tuning a tattoo machine, the art of shading, outlining, color theory and color mixing, needles/tools, etc., some of these items may get missed or ignored in a very short, or unstructured, course.

You may have spent a large sum of money to start a new career, it’s important to learn everything you can, to learn the right way & give yourself the best opportunity to succeed from the ground floor. Our Program offers continued support even after you have completed it, which is non existent on your own. As a graduate, you will also have the option to return for additional workshops to learn new skills and techniques.

Do I need to be an Artist to Tattoo?

Short answer is yes.

You would need to have some type of artistic background to be successful in tattooing. But keep in mind, a new tattoo artist’ work will primarily consist of basic designs like names, lettering, and simple shapes with basic outlines and color. As mentioned earlier, it takes a lot of practice to become a great tattoo artist. As your experience and skill evolves, so will your pieces. Custom and complex larger work will come as quickly as you progress.

A lot of artists are now using electronic means to create images. Whether it be custom or images the customer brings to you, there is an absolute need for both types of tattoo artists in this now customer-driven industry. Experienced and in demand artists can also choose to focus solely on their desired styles once they’ve reached a point in their career that allows for it. How your career develops is up to you and the shop you are in.

*** However, please note that this Program is not an automatic admission. All applicants are still required to submit hand drawn artwork for admission review and acceptance into the Program.

After graduation, will I need to continue an apprenticeship, or will I be ready to tattoo or pierce?

You need to fully understand what you are doing before you tattoo or pierce, each and every time. Identifying potential risks or barriers to a great tattoo/piercing is the first step. We will prepare you with all the necessary skills needed to tattoo or pierce on your own after the training has been completed. With that being said, tattooing a& piercing requires practice, and dedication. What you receive from this training largely depends on you, and that in turn will dictate what you do when it’s over. An apprenticeship means continued supervision and while it is nt a requirement, it is never a bad idea.

What do I receive upon Graduation?

All successful graduates of the Program will receive a framed certificate, participate in a graduation event, write their signature on the “Wall of Fame,” & receive their basic Tattoo or Piercing setup. (Additional supplies can be purchased on-site.)

In the past, Business Licenses would have been provided, however, Grande Prairie’s bylaws have changed, therefore, graduates will have to acquire these on their own (Applicable to Grande Prairie residents only – students are required to check with their local Municipal tattoo/piercing bylaws before getting started).  

Will I be tattooing or piercing real people?

Yes. There is a live model component of our course. These will ideally be friends and family of the Student, but we are able to provide models if necessary.

This portion is under strict supervision and ONLY WHEN YOU ARE READY. We reserve the right to delay this component of the Program until such time that we feel you are ready to proceed. We have a responsibility to you, to get you there, but also a responsibility to your model.

What kind of rate will I make as an Artist or Piercer after the Program?

Rates depend on the shop you go to and the arrangement you have with them. Every shop is different. You will need to discuss this with the Shop Owner or Manager, along with supplies and scheduling etc.