Whether you have a lot of tattoos or are considering getting a tattoo for the first time, we bet you’ve heard “oh, you’ll have a hard time getting a job with those” from at least one person. It’s boring, to say the least. You want to decorate your body with deeply meaningful and personal designs, so that’s none of your boss’ business, is it?
Well, not everyone sees it that way. In fact, many people still consider tattoos unprofessional in 2021. It’s crazy!
This article explains why they are considered unprofessional and what you should do about it.
The main reason why tattoos are considered unprofessional
In most cases, tattoos are considered unprofessional because some people don’t like them. Most of us make little assumptions based on how people look, let’s be honest, but some people take it too far and judge someone to be unprofessional just because they have ink on their face. body. Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people don’t automatically like someone just because they have a tattoo.
And it is wrong.
A tattoo is a form of self-expression. No employer should use your tattoos as a reason not to hire you. You should never be discriminated against because of your appearance.
Fortunately, at 21st century, many employers will judge employees based on their abilities rather than their looks… but they may still ask you to cover up your tattoos at work.
This is for several reasons that we will discuss below.
Whether your tattoos are considered unprofessional or not also depends on your career choice. You might find yourself in a line of work where a tattoo is unprofessional, or the other way around.
Also Read: Jobs That Allow Tattoos: Where Can You Work and Show Your Ink?
The “Tattoos Are Unprofessional” Defense
One defense we’ve heard for the idea that tattoos aren’t professional is that they’re a choice.
For example, wearing jeans and flip flops to work in an office is unprofessional, so tattoos surely are too. After all, they are two personal choices used to express individuality. In this sense, not being tattooed is part of the dress code.
On the other hand, some people claim that they are like scars. Scars are permanent and reveal part of a person’s life or background, much like a tattoo. Moreover, scars cannot be removed and are only part of your being. You wouldn’t be considered unprofessional to show a scar on your hand, so why should you be unprofessional to show a tattoo?
Why your boss might not allow tattoos
In many cases, employers won’t say “no, you can’t work here if you have a tattoo”, but they may say “you can only work here if you cover your tattoo”.
Here are some reasons why your boss may be against tattoos or ask you to cover them up:
- Personal opinion – your boss might just not like tattoos and discriminate against you. They are a grade A d**che if that is the case.
- Fear of other people’s opinions – Your boss may like tattoos, but he may be worried that his clients won’t like them. For example, if their customers are both older and conservative, they are more likely to be the kind of people who don’t like people with tattoos. In this case, your boss must develop a pair.
- Entertainment – this is a weak reason! Some bosses may say that your tattoos will distract other workers or people around you. This may be true during the first hour of work when your new co-workers ask to see your tattoos, but otherwise it has no bearing on your ability to work. Tattoos are no more distracting than your boss’ bad haircut (but it’s better not to report it).
- Brand image – it is related to your profession (see below). Although no boss says it out loud, many companies have a “brand image” they want to follow. They want everyone to be clean-shaven, wear the latest suits, and all look vaguely alike, for example. After all, they represent the company. So whether you can do the job or not, if you don’t fit in visually, some a*****e bosses won’t want you there.
Some tattoos are less professional than others
Like most things in this world, tattoos and professionalism are not black and white concepts. What one company considers professional will not be the same as another company.
Likewise, some tattoo designs and placements are considered more professional than others. It all comes down to personal opinion, but this list will give you a general idea.
Most Non-Professional Tattoos
- Profanity and rude text,
- Gross and profane images,
- cartoon characters,
- gang related symbols,
- Extremely dark and/or gothic imagery.
Least Unprofessional Tattoos
- Small symbols, for example number 8,
- Initials in a formal/elegant font,
- Simple stripes and thin line tattoos,
- Very small, discreet, simple and elegant tattoo.
Most non-professional placements
- Face and neck area,
- In your mouth
- fingers and knuckles,
- Clavicle and Collarbone,
- elbows and knees,
- Any placement that screams “look at me” or is unusual.
Less professional placements
- back of the neck,
- Any part of your body that is hidden by your work uniform.
Why it’s not always fair
For some tattoos, you can kind of see why a boss might be unhappy with your ink. For example, if you have a visible tattoo of a Pepsi can but want to work for Coca Cola, you can see why that could cause problems.
But there are also times when a tattoo is not just decorative. Some tribal tattoos are extremely visible, beautiful, and symbolize something more than “hey, look at my inked arms.” In this case, discriminating against tattooed people disadvantages a whole minority of people. It is simply wrong.
There are two sides to every coin. As this Reddit thread explains, you have the freedom to get whatever tattoo you want…and your employer has the freedom not to hire you if they choose.
Your profession matters too
Different professions have different opinions on tattoos. In fact, there are certain professions where having ink is welcome or expected:
- tattoo artist,
- professional boxer,
- Singer, artist or musician,
- Hipster Cafe Barista,
- Quirky start-up business owner,
- Pirate (just kidding).
At the other end of the scale, there are professions where the expression of individuality through tattoos is either strictly prohibited or simply not appropriate. This is the kind of jobs where rigor, order and “integration” are essential to succeed:
- Military and naval organizations (some prohibit tattoos completely, others require permission for each tattoo),
- Prison guards and law enforcement,
- Models and actresses (although many have professionally covered up tattoos for their daily work),
- Bankers and high finance professions where professionalism prevails,
- Health professionals,
As we move forward in the 21st century, more and more organizations like these accept tattoos… but there is still a long way to go. If you’ve found a profession that loves your tattoos (or hates them), share it with us in the comments below!
Aren’t tattoos professional?
It depends on your personal opinion. Many employers no longer consider tattoos unprofessional, but there are still professions where getting a tattoo is considered bad.
What jobs don’t allow tattoos?
Most military and law enforcement type roles will not allow tattoos. Some extremely professional jobs, such as a banker, may also frown on body art.
What is the law on workplace tattoos?
There’s no law that says people with tattoos can’t work in certain roles – it all depends on company policies. In fact, if you’ve been discriminated against because of your tattoos, you might even be able to take legal action.
Are piercings considered unprofessional?
Unlike tattoos, piercings are judged more on their placement. Simple ear piercings (1 per lobe) are considered completely professional, as long as you are wearing professional jewelry. For example, simple diamond stud earrings are very professional, but small skull earrings are not so professional.
A nose piercing or large gold hoops in your ears, on the other hand, are not considered professional. Some employers may ask you to remove your piercings or at least switch to simple, low-key jewelry.
Some careers don’t allow piercings at all. If your job is very physical, an earring or piercing can be dangerous or inconvenient, for example.
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