Your journey into professional tarot


I have so many questions about what steps I should be taking to become a good tarot reader. I don't know if I would quit my day-job and go 100% pro, but I'd like to do some readings on the side as a supplemental income. I just don't know quite how to get from point A to point B.

I started studying Tarot back in February after my first in-depth face-to-face reading. I was totally fascinated with it. I have a Grail deck and a mini-Nova deck, neither of which I use. My main deck is the Gilded. I know my cards...sort of. I've read the book(s), know the general meanings/energies of the cards but my understanding of some them feels very shallow or flat. Only one or two keywords comes to mind when they come up in a spread and I know that they could represent so much more than I currently understand of them. The Court cards are also a problem for me. There seems to be so many ways to interpret them and Í can't seem to get a grasp on them in my head.

I don't have much support for my hobby. One of the reasons I'd like to make a little money with it is because it would immediately cause my hubby to take it more seriously (He's my King of Pentacles!). I'm really feeling my lack of experience and I don't really have much feedback to go on other than what I can glean from AT (which has been of immense help!).

I'm sure you have all found yourselves in a similar situation, where you feel your growth as a reader was stuck. What did you do to break through your glass ceiling? How did you get past your lack of confidence? How did you deepen your readings? How did you survive those readings where nothing came to you? This is why I'm afraid to offer hour-long readings! I worry that I'll just run out of things to say.

I'm interested to hear your story. Tell me how you started, the difficulties you experienced (and still face?), your triumphs and tragedies, the things you learned the hard way, and the things you worried about that turned out to be nothing at all. What helped you become a better reader? Books? A coach/instructor? Reading for friends? Reading for strangers? What worked for you and what didn't?

I'm looking forward to hearing from everyone.


After reading your post, I would day you probably should wait a bit before asking for money... if you say you know the cards ' sort of' I think the best plan at this point is to begin reading for family and friends...and then friends of friends... in time you will feel more secure with your skills and you can then ask for 'contributions'... that keeps the pressure off at first when you want to start charging. There will come a time when someone is confrontational, or you will have a blank out ... it is so much easier once you have some of these 'friendly' readings under your belt.

Short readings are also a good idea at the beginning. An hour can feel very long.

You started studying Tarot in February.. that is not even a year... be patient with yourself :)

I did not charge for readings for a longggggggggg time. Probably 20 years!

The best way I found to become a 'better' reader is to keep doing readings... join a meetup in your area, do exchanges here... just keep plugging...

Good luck :)


I've been studying and working with tarot for 7 years, and I'm still afraid to charge. However, I've managed to scrape up a few loyal customers over the last year and a half through Myspace who absolutely refuse to let me do readings for them for free because they thought the readings have always been so helpful. But there were so many more who took advantage of me (mainly because I do my readings online). You may have better luck doing things in person, but I would suggest you practice some more and get a better feel for people before you start charging.

I started with donations and moved up to a base fee of $10 for now. In the last year, I've probably only made about $1,000. I actually had one of my clients go somewhere else and paid a lady $40 for a reading, and she came back to me and said it was a waste of her money, and that if those were other people's fees, I deserved more. And I go to school full-time... so if you work full-time, it will probably be slow for a while. I would say, maybe try going to a public place twice a month and offering some readings and putting a donation jar up for your time, until you can put forth more skill. Explain to people that you are still learning- most will still be fascinated anyway- and maybe they'll leave you a tip for taking time out specifically for them.


Well, if you just know general meanings and the cards haven't come to life yet and still feel "shallow" then you definitely shouldn't quit your day job and go pro.

But don't be too hard on yourself either. Tarot is an ever evolving, learning, personal process! I'm pretty sure I was listening to a Tarot connection podcast and Mary Greer was the guest and the gist of what she said was that there were days when even she wasn't sure at all of what she was doing :)

For me, there were two things that really helped me over the Tarot "hump". That hill between knowing rote memory meanings and really being able to feel the cards and effectively weave them matter what the combination or the number cards pulled.

1. Read like mad! Practice, practice, practice. And it sounds so trite and it gets repeated so many times by so many people but it's true. Read for yourself, multiple times a day. Write down these readings and that internal dialogue that goes on as you get through the reading. Read on AT in the exchange threads. I've done so many readings for people here, and reading for them has been invaluable (and free!) help and learning. There are plenty of people here who will gladly be your guinea pigs. And you'll also learn a lot from them as well.
In the end you just gotta do it. Not read about it, not learn from someone else, just do it.

2. Mary Greer's 21 ways to read a Tarot card is the second thing that helped me crossover. This books seriously changed Tarot for me and set me free! It is an awesome book, and cultivates intuition.

You can do it!!! You already have the most important thing of all...passion. Anyone can pick up a book and "read" Tarot cards. But to make it into an art, a craft, a have to LOVE Tarot deep down in your soul! Because it takes a lot of dedication and so much persistence to be a good reader. But it is so worth it!
Good luck!

Oh, and hour long readings?! I'm not sure I understand that either. Unless the client really wants to get into each and every card, IMO hour-long readings are completely unnecessary. I think less is more when it comes to Tarot.


practice practice and then practice again, this gives you confidence

you dont need support for your hobby as its yours, until it becomes a career enjoy it as it is, and the fact its yours not something that has to pay the bills and becomes drudgery.
i would say your not ready yet for pro, try as to join more circles or meet ups, read face to face for everyone you can.

sometimes you have to move backwards to move forwards, so perhaps you need to step back for a min and remember hobbys are enjoyable, dont take the fun out of it. experiment with the cards and different method, play with them and stimulate your creativity which will help you read the cards.

hour long readings when your learning is too much, try shorter readings, try working out what type of readings you want to give, your style etc


1) In my experience, the only way to gain confidence for FTF readings is to do them--lots of them, for friends, family, and, most important, total strangers, including professional Tarotists. And when people start saying, "How much can I pay you for the reading you just did, because it was awesome?" and "You need to charge for this," then you are ready to go pro. The market will tell you, not the other way around.

2) My opinion only, and I truly don't mean to sound snarky, it just comes out that way: if you are still having trouble with the Courts, you are not ready to charge. Period.

3) Also, if you don't have a good timing method under your belt, you will have a lot of people walking away feeling they didn't get an answer to their question. Timing is tricky, and takes experience to master.

4) I also feel that a good professional reader should be able to give a fairly in depth answer to a single topic question within 10-15 minutes, because often, that's all that people have money for in the current economy. Except for a few clients who deal with business questions, in my market the hour long reading requests are few and far between.

5) If you still have readings where nothing comes to you, you are not ready to go pro.

6) Lastly, as a professional reader, people will come to you with serious, life altering questions. Such as, "Should I have this baby or give it up?" and "I want to quit my job/sell my house/divorce my spouse--is now a good time?" Sure, they don't always just go out and do what you say the cards are indicating--but if they trust you enough (and that may be after only one reading) sometimes, they do. It's a big responsibility, one that after doing this for years, I still at times consider, and shudder at.


Thanks for your responses, everyone. minrice, I have looked at that book on Amazon and wondered if it would be worth reading. I'll have a look at our library to see if they have it, and if they don't, I'll have them order it in. Thanks for the recommendation.

I just wanted to clarify a couple of points.

intuition897 said:
I don't know if I would quit my day-job and go 100% pro, but I'd like to do some readings on the side as a supplemental income.
Okay, when I said this I probably should have added 'ever' in there.. LOL As in, "I don't know if I would EVER quit my day-job and go 100% pro..." I know for a fact that I'm not there yet! But I've found that I'm in a bit of a rut right now and changing the dynamics - adding a bit of pressure by being paid for a quality reading - might force me to improve in a hurry out of necessity. Sometimes that's what it takes. It needs to be "real" for me to take it seriously...not that readings that are given for free aren't real. There's just less at stake and I'm more forgiving of myself. When you want a flower to bloom, you take away the warmth and sunlight, forcing it to prioritize and get down to business. Sort of the same idea.

intuition897 said:
I know my cards...sort of. I've read the book(s), know the general meanings/energies of the cards but my understanding of some them feels very shallow or flat. Only one or two keywords comes to mind when they come up in a spread and I know that they could represent so much more than I currently understand of them. The Court cards are also a problem for me. There seems to be so many ways to interpret them and I can't seem to get a grasp on them in my head.

I think maybe I've worded this badly as well. I DO know my cards well enough to get by, but I'm not satisfied with just getting by and giving an 'okay' reading. I really want to deepen my understanding of some of the cards. Everyone's got their blank spots. Justice, for example, is one of mine. And it seems that I can read about it and get opinions about its meaning/energy, but I haven't adopted it quite yet. Its strengths, its shortcomings, its personality, what it means when someone pulls it from the deck. And I think that that "adoption", if you will, is a highly personal thing. Everyone can agree on the general meaning of a card, just like everyone would agree that a rose might be red, but how you feel personally about the card meaning - or that particular shade of red - is a personal thing. There are some cards I haven't formed an opinion of quite yet. We have a passing aquaintance and that's about it. As far as knowing all the rote meanings of the cards, I've that down pat. I no longer need a book to remind me. It's the deeper meanings I'm looking for for just a few of them.

The court cards I find have so many variables that I have difficulty shutting off my "thinker" and just feeling them. I worry that I automatically jump to conclusions about them, "Oh, a Queen...that means an adult woman. Probably someone who is involved in the situation. Oh wait. It could also mean the querent is making something real. Or maybe it's just something about refining the quality of that suit...aarrggh!" I second guess myself all the time with the court cards.

Indeed that seems to be the biggest problem: just trusting my instincts. I worry that my love of logic and order has me stereotyping my cards and not allowing the depth of their characters to shine through. Like I said, it's a real journey.


I first picked up a Tarot deck some time in the 1970s. In 1981 I did readings on two separate occasions which were judged so good by others that they forced money on me pretty much against my will. It took several years after that before I went out there and touted my services around.

Tarot is not a get-rich-quick scheme, not for any of us. And you wouldn't pay an apprentice bricklayer a Master Builder's rates.


I've been using Tarot since 2000 but it took me several years to get brave enough to read for others. About 3 years, I think. It's not as simple as it looks and you have to really know your cards, not just memorized book meanings.

You can't just say "this card means this---and the next card means this---" separately. You have to be experienced enough to be able to look at a spread in its entirety and know what it's about. And you have to be able to weave the story as a whole, not just individual card meanings separately. You need to "hear" them speak to you. Some people actually hear a voice or see a "movie" in their mind but for me it's just a "knowing", meaning that it just comes into my mind as thoughts or ideas that I just "know" are right.

On the contrary, you have to also know when to just admit you're not getting anything and move on. Sometimes---fortunately they shouldn't be frequent---you have to admit you just don't know because the cards aren't speaking to you.

There's a really good book---at least, I thought so----for beginners called The 2 Hour Tarot Tutor. I think it's out of print now but Amazon still had used copies last time I looked. I highly recommend that one for you if you can get it. And for longer term deeper study, I recommend 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary Greer and Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack. The Secret Language of Tarot----I think that's what it's called but I'll have to go look at mine---it's by the Amberstones---I'll come back with the true title for you as soon as I find it. That's a good one, too, about Tarot symbolism.

ETA: Yep, that's the title of the Tarot symbolism book. It's by Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone. Amazon has used ones starting at $7 and change right now.

If you want a beautiful, classy custom made tip jar, contact canid here. She makes wonderful ones. Work with a tip jar when you've studied a little more and want to go seriously public. That works as well or better than charging a set fee and that way, if a sitter isn't pleased, they just won't have to pay anything big---no problem. Those who are pleased are quite generous, usually.


This is exactly the response from pros that I was afraid of and it's why I have been concerned about putting anything out there advertising readings. The last thing I want to do is step on any toes here in my community with people thinking, "Who the heck does she think she is anyway?" There is such a thing as paying one's dues and 9 months is not that impressive that way.

Perhaps the best solution would be to contact a few local non-profit organizations and try to arrange volunteering for them at any of their upcoming functions. Like I said, I think I can offer decent readings and that should warrant payment of some sort. I'm not too hung up on whether the money goes to me or to a charity because it's money I'm not counting on anyway. So I find the option of asking for donations to a charity tip jar in lieu of payment an attractive option. It still gets me into that place where higher-quality readings mean more money (forcing me to improve my reading skills and getting me all sorts of experience) and the good karma feels good too! :)

I will try to find those books. I have heard of the titles and thought about getting them in the past, but I wasn't sure if they were worth the money.

Thanks everyone!