It’s tough to fix a word if you spell it wrong in ink, especially if it’s needled into someone’s skin. Starting next year, new tattoo artists in Iowa will have to meet certain educational requirements before they’ll be able to etch their art onto anyone.

Carmily Stone, chief of the Environmental Health Services bureau of the State Department of Public Health, explains the changes. Stone says, "The new rules require that tattoo artists who are permanent after January 1st, 2010, have a high school education or a GED and are also required to take a blood-borne pathogens class, and that was not required in the previous rules."

She says the tattoo parlor inspectors also have to take the blood-borne pathogens class. The new educational requirements will only apply to new tattoo shops, as those currently in business will be "grandfathered" in under the existing rules.

Stone says the upgrade was long overdue. "These rules had not been looked at for about 20 years," Stone says. "They’d have some minor revisions done but had not really had a hard look so it was time for us to look at those and we’d had inquiries from the industry as well for us to look at these rules." She says all Iowa tattoo parlors, new and old, will be facing higher fees in the new year.

The artist permit is now $40 and it’ll go up to $75 after the first of the year, while the establishment permit will go from $25 to $100. All tattoo shops are also required to get an annual inspection, the fees for which will rise from $200 to $250.

Stone says there are about 175 tattoo shops in Iowa, a rising number as the state follows national trends.