Tattoos and Piercings in the Workplace

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45 million Americans have at least one tattoo. Thirty years ago, 1 in 100 people in the United States had tattoos that number has now increased to 1 in 10 Americans having at least one tattoo. 83 percent of Americans have had their earlobes pierced. 14 percent of Americans have a body piercing other than their ear lobe.

As society is becoming more revealing and transparent regarding tattoos and piercings some employers are still having a hard time comprehending body modifications in the workplace.

Even though some employers are becoming increasingly accepting of tattoos and piercings many companies still have policies in place prohibiting visible tattoos and piercings in the workplace.


36 percent of of U.S. adults 18 – 25 have at least one tattoo. conducted an Employee Tattoo and Body Piercing survey in 2007. Employers and Employees were asked various questions regarding tattoos and piercings in the workplace. 64 percent of those surveyed said that body modifications do in fact negatively impact the opinions that their co-workers and employers have of them.

“Regardless of who the real person maybe, stereotypes associated with tattoos and piercings can affect others,” said one anonymous source from the survey.

The United States spends approximately 1.65 billion dollars a year on tattoos alone. That figure does not include the price of piercings, aftercare, or tattoo removal.

Tattooing and piercing is becoming an ever-increasing lucrative business with the current generation being some of the most frequent patrons.

“We see only younger people come in, but we only pierce and tattoo 18 and up. We usually get 22-35. It’s rare that we get someone 35 and up,”  said Tino Tolentino, 17- year piercer at Whatever Tattoo on Saint Marks in New York city.


Average cost of a small tattoo in $45.

The average cost of a small tattoo is 45 dollars and the average cost of a large tattoo can run up to 150 dollars an hour. The United States now has 21,000 tattoo and piercings shops scattered across the country.

“There has been a huge increase in this business. Just on this block, there used to only be 3 tattoo shops and now there are about 10,” said Tino Tolentino.

Even though 36 percent of adults in the United States from ages 18-25 have at least one tattoo many are still concerned about their ability to get a job in the future and are being very mindful of their future.

“I want to get a half sleeve on my right arm but I do feel like it could get in the way of me being hired that’s why I’m so scared to do it,” said Jasmine Farley, 20-year-old college student.

47 percent of those surveyed by said that they do not conceal their tattoos at work. There are some professions that do not have strict policies regarding body modifications.

According to and article from Forbes, Bank of America, Spokeswoman Ferris Morrison, stated that Bank of America has no rules restricting the body modifications of their employees.

Tattoos and Piercings are also pretty well accepted in academic positions as well. There is a Facebook page titled Teachers With Tattoos, which hopes to rid the stigma of teachers with tattoos.

32 percent of Americans say they are addicted to tattoos therefore they cannot stop getting them.

“I think certain people can get addicted to them because they just feel like they need to have them. They feel empty and need something to just be there once they start getting them,” said Farley.

Tolentino has seen the negative affects of people getting tattoos and piercings. He understands that certain professions simply cannot have their employees adorned with tattoos and piercings.

“One time a guy came in and got names tattooed on each side of his neck. He came back the very next day and asked how to take them off because he got fired,” said Tolentino.

There are options for those who still want to maintain their visible tattoos or piercings regardless of the policies imposed on them by their day job. Retainer jewelry is clear or flesh colored pieces of jewelry that are intentionally made to repel attention.


6 thoughts on “Tattoos and Piercings in the Workplace

  1. interesting post. I know tats are huge when they have conventions on it. I heard they are addicting. I’m in the % that doesn’t have one. I know some jobs you aren’t allowed to show them and others who don’t care.

    • Thank you! I do not have any tattoos either. I do have piercings and have a strong desire to get visible piercings. I am waiting until I get hired at my first professional job before I make the decide to get visible piercings since policies vary from company to company.

    • Thank you so much! I have friends with tattoos and so I completely agree that work policies should be relaxed. Check out Writing Samples page. There I have an article titled, “Tattoos in the workplace: Why body art should color the professional world.”

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