Help wanted: $87,000 plus benefits for tattoo specialist for Minnesota prisons

Who says there aren’t any good jobs out there? The Minnesota Department of Corrections seeks to hire an experienced tattoo supervisor to mentor and train inmates interested in tattooing as a career path upon release.

To be sure, the office setting for the unusual job listing in Minnesota’s largest correctional facility in Stillwater may be intimidating for some applicants given that the “position has direct contact with incarcerated individuals.” But the position pays well, offers great benefits, paid time off and much more.

The State of Minnesota offers a comprehensive benefits package including low cost medical and dental insurance, employer paid life insurance, short and long term disability, pre-tax flexible spending accounts, retirement plan, tax-deferred compensation, generous vacation and sick leave, and 11 paid holidays each year

According to the official state job posting, the position pays up to $87,000 for someone with a “strong, well-rounded portfolio” and calls for the individual to establish tattoo studios in one or more state prisons, among other expectations.

You will serve as the expert technical resource for other project and agency staff involved in the design and implementation of the body art pilot project so that a licensed body art studio is established and incarcerated men and women are trained and supervised in the art of tattooing•

Establish and maintain a licensed body art establishment in one or more correctional facilities

Direct and manage the application process for temporary licenses for incarcerated people participating in the pilot

Develop, design and implement a program to provide technical information and supervision to incarcerated people interested in obtaining licensure as a tattoo technician

Besides offering career training for incarcerated would-be tattoo artists, state corrections officials claim the program would help reduce the incidence of hepatitis and HIV that’s spread by prisoners sharing needles to create homemade tatts in their cells. Forum News reports the corrections department has high hopes for the program.

In establishing a formal prison tattoo program, the state hopes to reduce recidivism by creating job opportunities for people when they leave prison, [spokesman Nick] Kimball said. To that aim, the tattoo supervisor would help prisoners develop digital tattoo art portfolios, earn licenses as tattoo professionals and provide direction for future employment.

A similar experiment in Canada several years ago evidently failed to match expectations.

Canada’s Conservative-led government at the time questioned the price tag of the program, which cost more than $300,000 to start and was expected to cost more than $600,000 each year, CBC News reported in 2006. The government nixed the program and opted to back other initiatives such as education programs on the risks of HIV and hepatitis C transmission from tattoos.

It’s not clear on what basis the Minnesota Department of Corrections concluded there’s enough interest among prisoners in becoming tattoo artists to justify the multi-prison program. Regardless, DOC plans to have a chain of inmate-run tattoo parlors up and running in several state prisons before long.

“While it’s unusual in many people’s view I’m sure,” DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell told Fox-9 News, “I would also say we have to be creative and look at what the market is doing and realities of the world are.”