businesswoman with exposed tattoos and piercings.Tattoos and piercings have had a rising popularity in the last decade or so. Since tattoos have become a part of mainstream culture, it has grown into a billion dollar industry. About every 1 in 10 Americans have a tattoo, ( it is more rare to find someone who isn’t tattooed now a’ days).

Q. While tattoos may be artistically beautiful and considered a form of self-expression, are they accepted in the workplace?

A. It depends. Certain industries embrace tattoos and others prohibit exposing them. So the real question here is, to ink or not to ink?

Things you may want to take into consideration:

1. What industry do I want to work in? Tattoos and piercings can make or break your chance at landing a job. They may be prohibited on the basis of professionalism or because they’re a safety hazard, acceptance truly varies from industry to industry.  For example, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer does not allow facial piercings or offensive tattoos to be visible. Ford Motor Company on the other hand, embraces tattoos and piercings so as long that they do not endanger a worker’s safety in a factory setting.

2. What are my limits? Many companies enforce policies in their employee handbook that prohibits the exposure of tattoos or piercings. While a company cannot use tattoos or piercings as an excuse to fire you, they may use it as an excuse to not hire you. Although, religious tattoos and piercings may be an exception.

3. What if I already have a tattoo/piercing? Camouflage, camouflage, camouflage! You can easily cover a tattoo by wearing formal clothing that covers most of your body. You may want to invest in retention jewelry that will camouflage a piercing without taking it out, as well as keep the piercing from closing.

Society has become more liberated and expressive, but some employers are still having difficulty straying from the traditional views on visible tattoos and piercings. The millennial view may see tattoos as a form of art, but the older generations associate them with acts of the rebellious (gang members, criminals, etc.). So before tattooing or piercing your body in an area that will be exposed to an employer, you may want to consider the ramifications. And for those of you who already have tattoos or piercings, ace your interview without exposing your tattoos/piercings and then read the employee handbook or discuss the limitations with your employer.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at or 800-367-8367.

Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.