Tattoos in the Workplace: Body Art or Unprofessional?


Jacob PullmanContent Marketer at Skin Design Tattoo

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

As the debate about tattoos in the workplace rumbles on, what should employees keep in mind if they’re considering getting inked?

Article 4 Minutes
Tattoos in the Workplace: Body Art or Unprofessional?

While attitudes towards are changing, of course, but that doesn’t mean that every workplace lets you have visible tattoos and some people still like to consider this before getting inked.

You can spend ages planning out your design and get your ink, but there will still be someone who doesn’t like it. That’s just the nature of tattoos. However, are there really any reasonable arguments for not being allowed tattoos in the workplace?

Are workplace tattoos even still an issue?

This really depends on the industry in question. Some industries will allow tattoos and have no problem with people turning up to work with them on display. Many bosses do still have the capacity to ban tattoos though and are happy to do so.

Some tattoos (not many) are associated with things like a prison and gang culture. It’s not necessarily the greatest argument for banning them, but this has been the way of the workplace for decades.

Why are tattoos considered unprofessional?

A lot of the reasons for tattoos being banned in the workplace don’t seem to stack up with modern society. When you walk down the street, you are likely to see people with tattoos.

Older generations may not be used to seeing tattoos in some industries such as government and in authority positions such as law enforcement. Attitudes will probably continue to change on these fronts, but at the moment employers can choose not to employ inked individuals in many parts of the world.

Tattoos themselves aren’t unprofessional, though they do have the capacity to be. If you were to get a rude tattoo or something associated with criminal activity or gangs then it could send the wrong message. The actual act of body art should not be associated with these things and is actually a practice rooted in spirituality and tradition.

Wrong reasons tattoos in the workplace are covered

There are misconceptions about why tattoos need to be covered in the workplace. The reasons below are some of the weaker excuses.

  • “Tattoos are extreme.” This is not true. Around 45 million people just in the US have tattoos, and they are becoming more popular.
  • “People will be scared of tattoos.” Another false statement. People are becoming more used to tattoos.
  • “It’s unhygienic.” This is a strange belief, disproven by science, that some people still hold onto. There’s no reason a tattooed individual can’t have high standards of hygiene. Ink doesn’t get on food during preparation.
  • “It looks bad.” This is an opinion, and it is a strange reason not to let people who have chosen they like tattoos to show them or to get a position within the company.

5 tattoo-friendly industries

If you’ve just been to the best tattoo shops in the US and got yourself a new design, you want to show it off. There are some industries that tend to be a lot more tattoo-friendly than others.

  • Military: Ink has been associated with the military for many years. If you work within the military then it’s unlikely that tattoos will hold you back, but it obviously depends on what the nature of your design actually is.
  • Hospitality: It’s normal to see a waiter or bartender in some industries that have a tattoo. Lots of hospitality companies are open to employing people who are inked.
  • Arts and the media: These industries are about expression, right? There are many roles in these industries that can allow you to show off your tattoos, and it will cause you no issue whatsoever in terms of getting a job.
  • Agriculture: A lot of people in agriculture have tattoos and it doesn’t make a great difference to these roles at all.
  • Trades: Trades like mechanic don’t tend to care too much about whether you have tattoos, as long as they aren’t offensive.

Final thoughts: Is it body art or unprofessional?

There are probably always going to be two schools of thought on whether tattoos should be common in the workplace, but the truth is that ink is becoming really popular, and this means that lots of people are choosing to accept employees with visible tattoos. Google, Ticketmaster, Apple, Amazon, FedEx and UPS all employ people who have tattoos and are happy not to discriminate. We expect more companies to go this way in the future.

There’s nothing intrinsically unprofessional about body art. Some people will always have preconceptions about tattoos, but in the modern age, it’s becoming easier to find employees who don’t mind this form of expression.

Jacob Pullman

Content Marketer at Skin Design Tattoo

Jacob is an enthusiastic writer and educator, who also handles content marketing at Skin Design Tattoo by day and is a movie fan by night. Jacob’s ultimate goal is to spread knowledge about relationships (but only theoretically, he is still single), body art and healthy lifestyle, and of course everything related to tattoo art.


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