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Tattoos in the Workplace: Has the Stigma Finally Lifted?

Tattoos in the Workplace: Has the Stigma Finally Lifted?

Lifestyle7 min Read


Is body art at work still taboo? Read on to see ink-friendly industries, legality issues, and more!

Visible tattoos have traditionally been viewed as a workplace taboo and even referred to as “job stoppers”, but in today’s increasingly inclusive atmosphere, many are wondering whether or not tattoos in the workplace are still a big deal?

While visible tattoos certainly aren’t embraced by all in the workplace, recent studies and polls have concluded that around 1/3 of companies now see no issue with employees sporting permanent body art. The study also showed a new leniency towards non-natural hair colors, and more casual attire.

While this is wonderful news for those of us with visible tattoos and piercings, there is still progress to be made. Current research has also shown that visible tattoos have had a markedly negative effect on individuals being hired in the first place, as certain industries believe that customers and clients are repelled by observable body art.

So, if you’re interested in getting your first tattoo but worried about future job prospects, read along as we cover the best careers and industries for tattooed persons, as well as current attitudes towards tattoos in the workplace.

Realism pet tattoo by Veghea Adi aka dirtyblacktattoo #VegheaAdi #dirtyblacktattoo #realism #blackandgrey #pet #petportrait #dog #animal

Can I Get Hired With Visible Tattoos?

The easy answer to this question is a resounding yes, you can get hired with visible tattoos. But there are factors to consider before committing to certain tattoo placements, subject matter, or particular industries. Whether you are contemplating your first tattoo or you’re already covered, it’s important to understand the current workplace atmosphere in regards to visible tattoos, piercings, and alternative dress styles.

As recently as last year, global staffing firm Accountemps conducted a survey amongst employers and discovered that 1 out of 3 hiring managers did not find issues with visible tattoos, piercings, or non-natural hair colors. Surprisingly, tattoos were considered to be vastly more appropriate in the workplace than visible political endorsements, music being played out loud, and the streaming of sport events at work. 59% of managers who participated stated that they felt visible tattoos had become more acceptable due to “looser societal standards”, while the other half claims that an influx of younger professionals has helped to create the shift.

Things to Consider Before Getting Tattooed

While the workplace may be more open to tattooing than ever before, there are still factors to consider when deciding to get tattooed. One important component is tattoo placement. If you are contemplating a tattoo on your face, neck, or hands, it is important to understand that these areas are still considered radical to certain employers, and you may have a difficult time being accepted in corporate or service-related work environments. Typically, jobs that revolve around face to face customer interactions will be the most strict when it comes to “aggressive” tattoo placements, so make sure before you take the leap into permanently visible pieces that you understand the potential consequences and risks.

Aside from tattoo placement, it is also important to think about the specific theme, imagery, and content of your visible tattoo. For example, an employer might be lenient when it comes to visible tattoos of flowers, pet portraits, or fine art recreations, but they will most likely not allow any visible tattoos depicting violence, graphic sexuality or curse words. If you’re considering a kinky, offensive, or gruesome piece, we’re not here to stop you! Just make sure to exercise caution about where you place your design so that it won’t be visible in a work setting.

Japanese tattoo by Blair Thomson #BlairThomson #japanese #irezumi #skull

Tattoo Friendly Jobs and Industries

While tattoos are not encouraged in every work environment, there are many career paths where being visibly tattooed will not affect your employment. Whether you’re already covered in tattoos, or you’re just contemplating your first piece, we’ve compiled a list of the most tattoo positive industries and careers to help you along your journey.

Creative Industries for People with Tattoos

From make-up artistry to online writing and graphic design, those who get paid to be creative are typically free to sport visible tattoos. So, if you’re interested in a career in digital marketing, stage production, music management, fashion, or anything related to beauty and trends, chances are that your job will be much more lenient when it comes to visible body art.

Top Creative Jobs for People with Tattoos:
Graphic Designer, Interior Decorator, Stage Manage, Artist, Stage Performer, Cosmetologist, Writer, Stylist, Tattoo Artist, Film Editor, Marketing Professional, Music Producer

Bird tattoo by Olga Kaminskaya aka Kaminskaya Tattoo #OlgaKaminskaya #Kaminskayatattoo #bird #neotraditional #feathers #flower #color #nature

Skilled Trade and Labor Industry Jobs for Tattooed People

If you’re considering going to school for HVAC, electrical work, plumbing, or carpentry, rest assured that employers tend to be more relaxed about employees sporting visible tattoos. Many of these careers offer individuals decent pay while allowing them to wear more casual attire and showcase their body art.

Top Skilled Trade and Labor Jobs for People with Tattoos:
Carpenter, Mason, Plumber, Electrician, HVAC, Construction Worker, Crane Operator, Engineer, Metalsmith, Machinist, Pipe Fitter

Japanese crane tattoo by Jeanzito Hernandez #JeanzitoHernandez #japanese #irezumi #crrane #cherryblossom #flower #halfsleeve

Food, Beverage, and Restaurant Jobs for People with Tattoos

When it comes to visible tattoos, one of the most accepting service-related industries has remained food and beverage. From artsy restaurants with tattooed wait staff to top chefs the world over, the realm of fine wines and delicious dining has always been unusually welcoming of those with tattoos.

Top Food & Beverage Jobs for People with Tattoos:
Server, Bartender, Liquor Vendor or Rep, Chef, Line Cook, Line Prep, Barista, Baker, Butcher

Top Remote Jobs for People with Tattoos

Since the spread of the Coronavirus, many employers have chosen to increase their number of remote positions, a trend which has been inevitably positive for members of the tattooed community. Whether you’re writing articles for a blog, making sales calls, or designing websites, working at home offers the freedom to sport your visible tattoos 24/7. Check out the list below for some perfect remote jobs for tattooed people.

Top Remote Jobs for Tattooed People:
Copywriter, Editor, Social Media Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, Sales Assistant, Video Game Designer, Computer Programmer, Software Developer, Virtual Assistant, Human Resources, UX/UI Designer

Foo dog tattoo by Juankar #Juankar #foodog #shishi #japanese #color #irezumi

Wildlife & Nature-Focused Positions for Tattooed People

If you’ve always dreamed of working outdoors or with animals AND having tattoos, you’re in luck! Many people who work with wildlife, forestry, and domestic animals are able to freely sport their tattoos at work.

Top Wildlife & Nature-Focused Jobs for People with Tattoos:
Forest Ranger, Veterinarian, Vet Assistant, Groomer, Breeder, Animal Trainer, Beekeeper, Gardener, Commercial Fisher

Public Safety & Military Careers for Tattooed People

You may have noticed that it’s not entirely uncommon to see a police officer or EMT worker with visible tattoos. Traditionally, the military has been fairly conservative regarding tattoos, but has recently rescinded their “25% rule” which stated that members could not be tattooed over 25% of their body. With this restriction lifted, armed service personnel are now allowed to be tattooed anywhere on the body with restrictions applied only to the head, neck, face, and hands (with exception to the US Marines who follow stricter guidelines). The US Air Force has become so accepting towards visible tattoos that they have even opened up an on base tattoo parlor, claiming that it inspires positive morale boosts, and serves to honor Traditional American art.

Top Public Safety & Military Careers for People with Tattoos:
Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Lifeguard, Paramedic, Firefighter, Security Guard or Bodyguard

Make sure to keep in mind that these aren’t the only fields and careers open to visible tattoos! As stigmas around tattoos fade, more companies are deciding to hire visibly tattooed employees, choosing to value skill set and experience over traditional corporate attire standards.

Tattoos and Workplace Discrimination

If you have visible tattoos you’ve more than likely considered the possibility that an employer may choose not to hire you due to discrimination. Fortunately, in some areas of the world, like Canada, there have been laws passed to protect employees and job seekers from discrimination based on visible tattoos. While this has had a positive effect on tattoos in the workplace and assisted in shifting opinions towards acceptance, there are still employers who choose not to hire based on visible tattoos. Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to prove that an employer chose not to hire you because of your tattoos, so it’s wise to always use caution when displaying tattoos in job interviews.

Always keep in mind before applying to a job that the placement of your tattoos and the subject matter is often very important when it comes to getting and keeping a job. If you have tattoos showcasing violent, sexual, or offensive imagery, remain mindful that the majority of employers will not condone this. If you’ve always wanted some vulgar or raunchy pieces, you can still get them! Just make sure they will not ever be visible in a professional setting.

In countries like the U.S. there are currently no legal protections afforded to employees when it comes to tattoos and workplace discrimination. So, if you live in the states and plan on getting tattooed, it’s important to find a career path or job that will be accepting of your visible art, otherwise you could face potential lack of employment, workplace harassment, and harsh restrictions.

lettering cover up tattoo by June aka tattoo #june #aretattoo #butterfly #coveruptattoo #wings #backofneck

Tattoos and the US Military

In 2017, the US Military elected to lift bans on tattoos, reversing the “25% rule” which stated that military personnel could not tattoo more than 25% of their body. Currently, members of the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Army are allowed to sport any size tattoos they’d like, and are only restricted from tattooing their hands, heads, faces, and necks.

In September of 2020, Nellis Air Force base in Nevada decided to open the countries first on-base tattoo parlor, aptly named “American Tattoo Society”. According to Nellis’s Facebook, the new tattoo shop is open 7 days a week to accommodate as many “airmen” as possible and is believed to be a massive morale booster for all serving in the armed forces. The recent opening has been so successful that the base is already planning on opening a second location named “Nellis Ink”.

As modern society continues to shift its attitude towards visible tattoos, employees of various industries are experiencing less discrimination in regards to their ink. While tattoos used to be considered “job killers”, many contemporary careers, companies, and job paths have become increasingly indifferent and even welcoming to the idea of tattooed employees. So while it may take a bit more work to find high-quality employment with tattoos, it is now more possible than ever.

Done! I’ve execute this entire project in three consecutive days at @whitewillowstudio in Pennsylvania. So far the most intense experience I’ve ever had in tattooing. A great memory, something that changed completely my view about tattooing. I’m still ama

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