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Tattoos in the Workplace: Is it Still an Issue in 2024?

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Published: 01.02.2023
Updated: 02.06.2024

Is it Unprofessional to Have Tattoos in 2024?

tattoos in the workplace

As tattoos become more popular, we are seeing a huge shift in tattoo policies in the workplace. Historically, tattoos have been frowned upon by professions such as healthcare, childcare, business, military, and law as individuals with tattoos were often associated with prisoners and gangs.

Almost half of the millennials in the United States have at least one tattoo. This is the highest rate of tattoos per age range in comparison to Gen X-ers at 36% and baby boomers at only 3%. This shows that tattoos are increasingly becoming popular among younger generations. More millennials and Gen Z-ers are entering the workforce and the percentage of people who either have a tattoo or accept them in the work environment is growing rapidly.

Will Your Tattoos Affect Future Job Opportunities?

Tattoos in the workplace

Even with tattoo popularity, there are still standards set by employers regarding tattoo policies. A survey conducted by Workopolis in 2014 of 5,000 participants revealed that 51% of respondents agreed that they will likely take someone less seriously if they have tattoos.

That same survey showed that 14% of the participants stated that they were less likely to hire a tattooed person, 35% stated that it depended on the job position, and 28% said that it depended on how many tattoos they have and whether or not they were visible. This shows that there is still progress to be made in the U.S. workforce to prevent tattoo discrimination.

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tattoos in the workplace

Tattoos that often affect an applicant’s hireability are usually located on the hands, neck, or face. These tattoos are usually associated with prison ink or gangs to the corporate eye.

Removery’s INK-nitiative program is dedicated to removing tattoos from the hands, neck, and face for those who were incarcerated, former gang members, human trafficked, domestically abused, or have hate speech or racist tattoos. This initiative is designed to reduce recidivism and help rehabilitated individuals find employment.

Studies have shown that tattoos in prison populations can be as high as 65% and out of inmates who have been re-incarcerated, 75% of them had tattoos. It’s often difficult for individuals to overcome recidivism and find employment, that’s why INK-nitiative was created to remove those barriers of the past.

What Industries Have Changed Their Tattoo Policies?

Below are two industries that historically have had strict no tattoo policies, but have things changed? See the U.S. military and airline industry’s stride towards tattoo acceptance in the workplace.

Tattoos in the Military

Tattoos in the military

Organizations such as the military traditionally have “no tattoo” policies. Although, they are making great strides towards allowing tattoos. Recently the military has lifted the “25% rule” which prevents military personnel from tattooing over 25% of their body. With that restriction removed, service members can now get tattooed virtually anywhere on their bodies except for the hands, neck, and face. See our military tattoo policy page to learn more about each branch’s regulations.

United Airlines New Tattoo Policy 

Tattoos in the workplace

The airline industry has always been notorious for strict dress codes. If you are or plan to become a flight attendant, it’s important to read up on every airline industry’s tattoo policies. Typically, no visible tattoos are allowed on flight attendants and it’s often asked during interviews if you have a tattoo, which could affect your ability to get hired.

For example, United Airlines’ existing appearance standards state that “tattoos must never be visible while in uniform”. However, Simple Flying reported that United Airlines flight attendants can have visible tattoos starting in September 2021. The new policy limitations state that the tattoos must be smaller than the size of their work badge and cannot contain obscene or offensive imagery or wording. Even with this progress, United Airlines still does not condone customer-facing employees who have tattoos on their hands, neck, or face. Want to become a flight attendant but have too many tattoos? Check out our before and after gallery to get a glimpse of what your tattoos could look like.

Common Questions About Tattoos In The Workplace

Do tattoos affect job opportunities?

It depends on the industry and individual firms. More industries are accepting tattoos in the workplace such as businesses, healthcare, childcare, military, and even airlines. See the tattoo policies for a few industries below.

Can an employer ban tattoos in the workplace?

They can if they have a strict tattoo policy set in place. Although, 46% of the current US population has tattoos and we are seeing a rising trend with the younger generations. This will ultimately undercut an industry’s pool of potential candidates by roughly 30% or more with strict no tattoo policies put in place.

Will tattoos ever be accepted in the workplace?

There’s a high probability that tattoos will become more accepted in the workplace. America is in 3rd place on a global scale with 46% of the population having at least one tattoo. In fact, a study led by the University of Miami in 2018 found that men with tattoos had a 7.3% higher employability versus those without tattoos. With that being said, the percentage of US adults with tattoos has doubled since 2013, and some employers prefer working with tattooed professionals.

Are tattoos and piercings acceptable in the workplace?

Depends on the job! Most industries are accepting tattoos in the workplace but industries such as the military and airlines have limitations on visible tattoos (hands, neck, & face).
A 2018 study on the healthcare industry might change existing hospital policies on tattoos & piercings. 75% of the 1,000 emergency-care patients studied said that they would give the same high remarks to doctors that had visible tattoos and piercings.

What if I need to remove a tattoo for employment?

You came to the right place! On average, a tattoo can be removed in 10-12 sessions spaced 6-8 weeks apart. How does tattoo removal work? Read more about tattoo removal below.

Tattoos and Discrimination in the Workplace

tattoos in the workplace

Tattoos promote individuality and self-expression. According to Indeed, industries such as design can actually benefit from hiring individuals with tattoos, because they can appeal to clientele and demonstrates a sense of aesthetics.

Allowing tattoos in the workplace also promote diversity by being inclusive of cultures and a variety of backgrounds. Organizations that allow visible tattoos promote creativity, attract a variety of applicants, and foster workplace friendships.

It’s also important to preserve diversity within the workplace. Data shows that racial minorities in the United States are more likely to have tattoos versus Caucasians. The figures from a 2006 study show that 38% of US Hispanics, 28% of African Americans, and 22% of Caucasians have tattoos (Collegiatetimes). Therefore, tattoo discrimination can in part reduce ethnic and racial diversity within the workplace.

A Word From Removery’s CEO

As part of our society’s ongoing push to be more inclusive, we must normalize tattoos in the workplace. Let’s empower people to be proud of their art, own their self image, and be free to move forward and reinvent themselves– safely making room for new self expression when and if the time is right for them – not their boss.”

-Tom Weber

The Future of Tattoos in the Workplace

tattoos in the workplace

The future of tattoos in the workplace is bright. Accepting tattoos as a norm vs a taboo will in turn increase a corporation’s diversity, creativity, and enrich the company culture. Removery is proud to provide an inclusive, diverse, and non-judgmental environment for our employees and clients. We celebrate tattoos and encourage those who have them to work with us! If you’re interested in starting a career in tattoo removal, check out our careers page. Want to join one of the industries mentioned in this article? Read more about tattoo policies.

Have a tattoo that needs to be removed? learn more about tattoo removal cost and book a free consultation with one of our expert technicians today.



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Carmen VanderHeiden Brodie Carmen Brodie VP Clinical Operations

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