Are you thinking of getting inked? Depending on your career goals or current job, you may want to hold off on that for a little longer. While tattoos have increased in today's culture along with society’s personal views, many professions don’t allow them at all or want you to cover them up.
Though having a tattoo isn’t always a career-ending move, but some places do frown on them being seen. Depending on where you work and what your current job is also playing a factor in your career potential. Even though attitudes about tattoos have changed on some levels, a lot of judgments die hard when it comes to employment.
Rules and guidelines will change from country to country, so we'll focus on culture and guidelines for US citizens.
The Armed Forces
This almost seems like an oxymoron when it comes to tattoos, as many veterans sport at least one tattoo or a full sleeve that represents their service or patriotism. Technically, tattoos go against the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and are therefore, restricted. On the other hand, you can’t go near most military personal without seeing a tattoo. Each branch of the military has its specific codes on top of the UCMJ for ink and piercings, some branches are more lenient than others and tend to look the other way. While they aren’t allowed, the military does tend to look the other way, at least the majority of the time.
Having a visible tattoo can prevent you from furthering your career with the government or even beginning one. Many agencies cite professional standards and require their employees or agents to have no visible tattoos. If you do work in the government sector and want a tattoo, take some consideration about the placement of the piece you want. A back piece probably won’t get noticed but a forearm sleeve will and could potentially look bad for your future employment.
This can be a gray area as you may have seen a police officer with some pretty excellent ink on their arms. These are, unfortunately, the exceptions and not the rules. Law enforcement still looks unfavorably at tattoos. They are seen as something the bad guys get. A fun fact is that officers are required to photograph and even document a suspect’s tattoos during booking. While the restrictions on tattoos may seem like they are forbidden, those who have them are required to cover them up. Whether or not those tattoos will prevent employment or advancement may be dependent on the officer and where they serve.
The World of Healthcare
For many healthcare professionals, tattoos are strictly forbidden as they work directly with patients. Tattoos can present a problem for anyone entering the field from being hired, as many hospitals and clinics have strict guidelines on professional appearance. Some on the other hand, will make you cover them up and they could limit advancement or move laterally in your career field. It’s best to consider if the tattoo your dying to get will help or prevent you from getting a job.
The Corporate World
Here you’ll find a more strict and conservative view on tattoos. Whether you’re a lawyer, high-level banker, or running a receptionist desk for significant business, tattoos are considered taboo. The old-world view of tattoos in this industry may come off as outdated, but their standards on their employee’s appearance can run the gamut from hair color, amount of makeup, wrong-colored tie, to having to die all your tattoos or risk getting sacked for not following policy.
When looking for a job, entering a new career, or even applying for advancement, first impressions are essential. No matter how much passion you have about your body art or another’s, tattoos are still considered when it comes to employment. Many employers have strict guidelines and policies regarding an employee’s appearance for their company and following these is crucial for new and continued work. Though you may want and desire a new tattoo, you will want to consider future employment and attitudes toward ink before choosing a place for your new ink. Opinions may be changing, but that old-fashioned view is still fairly prevalent in today’s world. Though you may have been told not to judge a book by its cover, that advice is rarely followed.
While many companies are opening up more to their inked employees or potential talent, tattoos and piercings are still a divisive subject in the professional world. Creative industries are more inclined to ignored ink at worst and compliment you at best, while others follow a more conservative path when it comes to tattoos.