Tattoos in the Workplace: Which Jobs Can’t You Get With a Tattoo?

Last updated on September 25th, 2023

September 9th 2022

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  • In the times of the pandemic, tattoo artists registered an explosion of interest. However, exhibiting tattoos in the workplace in visible spots on the body is still not welcome in multiple professions.

  • Therefore, if you are considering getting a visible tattoo, it’s essential to do your own research before you apply for jobs.

  • In this article, we review the main branches of the job market in which you can get yourself into trouble by proudly wearing a tattoo and list the reasons why this is so.

  • We also review a few popular methods for covering a tattoo, if you already have one and it limits your job prospects.

Tattoos in the Workplace: Hot or Not?

Many people get tattoos these days as a form of self-expression. A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design is created by inserting ink, dyes, and pigments, permanent or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin in order to change the pigment. Tattoos fall into three categories: purely decorative, symbolic, and pictorial.

Many working environments are starting to become more accepting of visible tattoos in the workplace. This is especially true in creative industries or certain areas of the Horeca industry, where tattoos can be a form of self-expression.

Additionally, more and more people are getting tattoos, so the stigma around them is slowly disappearing. In the times of the pandemic, tattoo artists registered an explosion of interest

However, despite the growing popularity of tattoos, exhibiting tattoos in the workplace in visible spots on the body is still not welcome in multiple professions.

In the poll by HR.BLR.com, 41% of employers declared that they would agree for a tattoo, but only if the employee agrees to cover it up. 

On the contrary, 17% of employers declared that they would agree only if it is small (innocuous) and inoffensive, 8% declared that they would agree but not any from the neck up, and 13% would never agree for a tattoo. Only 20% of the participating employers were enthusiastic about tattoos in their employees.

Many public figures openly declared regretting their tattoos. According to TeamStage agency, discrimination against tattoos leads to a 30% reduction in eligible candidates.

Therefore, if you are considering getting a visible tattoo, it’s essential to research and ensure that it won’t limit your job prospects. In this article, we review the main branches of the job market in which you can get yourself into trouble by proudly wearing a tattoo and list the reasons why this is so.

Why Are Visible Tattoos in the Workplace Not Allowed in Most Jobs?

There are a few reasons why many workplaces do not allow visible tattoos. The main reason is that tattoos can be seen as unprofessional and make the wearer seem like they do not take their job seriously. 

In some cases, it may be because the company wants to present a particular image to the public, and tattoos can be seen as unprofessional or dangerous. In other cases, it may be because the company is worried about liability issues if an employee is injured while working and has a visible tattoo. Some jobs may require employees to wear uniforms that do not allow visible tattoos.

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1. Tattoos in the Workplace of Armed Forces.

Tattoos are becoming more and more popular in the military. They’re a way to show your patriotism, and they’re also a way to offer your service. There are multiple reasons why people get tattoos, but for many in the military, it’s a way to show their pride and commitment to their country. It’s an outward sign of who they are and what they believe in.

However, public authorities are not fans of tattoos in the armed forces. The military has been trying to banish them for years. Technically, tattoos go against the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and are restricted. But that hasn’t stopped some people from getting tattoos.

So, if you’re thinking about getting a tattoo as a military, remember to follow the local guidelines and restrictions. And, if you’re in the military, check with your commanding officer before making any definite decisions. Still, not every commanding officer would be happy seeing your body covered with tattoos, and it can prevent you from getting a promotion.

2. Tattoos in the Workplace of Healthcare.

Most hospitals and clinics have strict guidelines on professional appearance, which can often block job candidates with tattoos from being hired. Tattoos are absolutely prohibited for many health personnel who regularly interact with patients.

It is because many people, especially the older generation, view tattoos as dirty and unprofessional, or even associate them with prison. 

This is especially true in healthcare, where patients trust their lives to those caring for them. They want to know that their healthcare providers are clean and presentable. For many, tattoos can be seen as a form of self-expression shameful in the case of a healthcare professional. 

There are also practical considerations regarding tattoos in healthcare. Tattoos must be covered with clothing or medical tape when working with patients. This can be a hassle, and finding a dress that will cover up a tattoo can be challenging. 

There are also some risks associated with having tattoos in healthcare. There is a risk of infection if the tattoo is not done correctly or if the person gets a tattoo while they are already sick. There is also a risk of allergic reactions to the ink, which can be dangerous for the healthcare professional and the patient. 

There are even professions where even a trace of the ink in your body after a removed tattoo is an elimination criterion! It is because some of the medical equipment such as magnetoencephalogram cannot be used in the proximity of tattooed skin.

3. Tattoos in the Workplace of Law Enforcement.

As you may have seen, a few police officers carry ink on their arms. Law enforcement still looks unfavorably at tattoos. The most common argument against tattoos is that they are seen as a sign of rebellion and an attribute of “bad guys.” Many law enforcement officers believe that visible tattoos reveal someone unwilling to follow the rules and regulations.

Another common argument is that tattoos can be seen as self-mutilation. This is because tattoos are permanent and can cause pain during the tattooing process. Many law enforcement officers believe that people who get tattoos are more likely to harm themselves and others. 

Tattoos can also be seen as a form of unnatural body modification. This is because tattoos can be seen as a way to change someone’s looks to conform to a specific image. Many law enforcement officers believe that people who get tattoos are trying to change who they are and that this is not natural. 

There are a few exceptions to the rule that law enforcement does not like tattoos. These include tattoos that are small and discreet, tattoos that have a professional appearance, and tattoos that have a personal significance. However, these are still the exception and not the rule.

4. Tattoos in the Workplace of Government Bodies.

Having a tattoo can prevent you from advancing your career in the government or even beginning one. Many organizations claim professionalism and prohibit no tattoos and body piercings on their workers or representatives.

The government isn’t the only place where tattoos can be a problem. Many employers have similar policies, and tattoos can be a barrier to getting a job.

5. Tattoos in the Workplace of the Corporate World.

There is no dispute that tattooing is gaining in popularity. Celebrities, athletes, and even regular people are all getting inked. But there’s one group of people who are still hesitant to get tattoos: corporate professionals. For many people in the corporate world, tattoos are seen as taboo. They’re considered unprofessional and inappropriate for the office.

There are a few reasons for this. First, tattoos are permanent. Once you get a tattoo, you’re stuck with it for life. And for many corporate professionals, that’s just too big of a commitment.

Second, tattoos can be distracting. If you have a visible tattoo, it can be a distraction for both you and the people you work with. And in the corporate world, distractions are not tolerated.

Finally, as a corporate employee, you are supposed to be a walking advertisement for your company, while tattoos can send the wrong message. The first impression is vital in business, and if you have a visible tattoo, it can send the wrong message to potential clients and business partners.

So, can corporate professionals get tattoos? Many corporations openly prohibit visible tattoos, including Abercrombie and Fitch, Aldi, Burger King, Calvin Klein, Safeway, and Starbucks. Therefore, it is critical to examine the advantages and negatives before deciding.

6. Tattoos in the Workplace of Financial Institutions and Banks.

So far, banks and other financial institutions have been pretty resistant to the idea of their employees such as accountants, financial advisors, bank tellers, or stock brokers, with any form of body art. They want their employees to be seen as trustworthy and professional. And unfortunately, tattoos and piercings can sometimes leave the customers off with the wrong impression.

But that may be starting to change. More and more financial institutions are beginning to see the value of tattoos and piercings. They realize that they can add to the diversity of their workforce and make their employees feel more comfortable in their skin.

7. Tattoos in the Workplace of Education.

Teachers with tattoos tend to be more welcome in public schools compared in expensive private schools. Nevertheless, employees of the education sector often need tattoos to be hidden under all circumstances. Their requests mainly stem from parent complaints or general fear of tattoos. 

Academia and universities follow the most flexible policies. This is because their management understands that many students have tattoos, therefore, it is not a big deal if their professor has a tattoo as well. However, they still require that the tattoos should be covered when teaching. This ensures that all students focus on learning and are not distracted by tattoos.

While private schools may be more strict regarding tattoos, they are not impossible to work around this problem. Many private schools will allow tattoos if they are covered at all times. This ensures that the students are not distracted or offended by them. However, if a tattoo is visible, the teacher will likely be asked to cover it up.

Overall, there are a lot of leniencies when it comes to tattoos and teachers. However, it is essential to remember that each school is different, and it will have its own rules and regulations. It is always best to check with a particular school before getting a tattoo to ensure that it is allowed.

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So You Need To Cover Up Your Tattoo?

Sometimes, you reach only one conclusion: no matter how liberal and tolerant your employer is, you need to cover up your tattoo to make any progress in your career, or even to hold your current job. Fortunately, there are many options here.

Simple Tattoo Cover-Ups.

There are various brands of tattoo cover-ups available on the market. Most of them are sold with sleeves that slide over a shirt or button up. This is a popular choice because it keeps everything hidden under the sleeve.

If you don’t like to wear t-shirts or long sleeved shirts, getting a button down shirt with the sleeve cut out is a great choice for covering up your tattoo. If you want to cover up your entire tattoo, you can get your sleeve tattoo cover-up over a long sleeve shirt, or even a bandana or a scarf.

Permanent Tattoo Cover-Ups.

There are a variety of permanent tattoo covers available on the market, but most of them have a couple things in common. First, they are permanent, meaning that they will never go away. The only way to remove them is to surgically remove the entire tattoo or you can cover them up with a regular tattoo cover-up.

Second, they’re thin. This means that the tattoo won’t be much bigger than your existing tattoo. 

Temporary Tattoo Cover-Ups.

The biggest difference between the two types of cover-ups is the material they’re made of. Namely, temporary tattoos are made of plastic. And finally, they’re temporary. This means that once the cover-up wears off, you’ll have to get a new one.

Temporary tattoo cover-ups are available in two styles. First, there are cover-ups with a metal band covering over the whole tattoo. These are more like traditional metal cover-ups, which will last about 2 years.

One of the best temporary tattoo covers out there is Quick Tattoo Covers. This product is in the traditional metal cover-up wrapper. This way, you get the look of a traditional metal cover-up while keeping the tattoo visible under the cover-up. Plus, the cover-up only comes in one color and style, so you can cover up any tattoo.

There are various color options available for Quick Tattoo Covers. However, the most popular color for covers is “all black.” This keeps your tattoo black underneath the cover-up, but shows the rest of the skin underneath.

Next, there are sleeve cover-ups, which have sleeves that wrap around the arm and are attached with velcro. The sleeve cover-up looks almost identical to the metal cover-up, but it will actually stay in place longer. You can even remove the cover-up by pulling the sleeve away from your skin and it will pull the cover-up with it.

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Conclusions: Tattoos in the Workplace — What Will The Future Bring?

According to the recent poll by Statista, 53% of employees believe that piercings hinder their chances in the job market, compared to 42% who point to visible tattoos as cumbersome in career development.

What will happen to tattoo owners in the future? There is light in the tunnel, as tattoos are slowly becoming a part of body-positivity movement. According to Vogue, more and more fashion houses choose to present models with tattoos. 

Furthermore, in times of post-pandemic, remote work has become a norm. In this situation, many companies, especially in IT and logistics, have become tattoo-friendly, including Google Ticketmaster, online retailers Amazon and Zappos, and package-delivery powerhouses FedEx and UPS.

It is likely that in the future, tattoos will become more acceptable in the job market. Today, it is still a risky choice. On the one hand, tattoos can be a beautiful and permanent way to express yourself. 

On the other hand, though, they can limit your career options as they can lower trust toward you as a professional and your intentions. Therefore, if you’re thinking of getting a tattoo or already have one, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons. Best of luck with your choices!

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Please cite as:

Siddiqui, H., Bielczyk, N. Z. (2022, September 9th). Tattoos in the Workplace: Which Jobs Can’t You Get With a Tattoo? Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/tattoos-in-the-workplace/

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