How Much Do Tattoos Affect Job Opportunities?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 21, 2019
    Last Updated: November 28, 2020

Whether you’re in a local cafe, in the office or doing the shopping at the supermarket, you’re bound to meet somebody or be served by someone with tattoos. But, are they still a controversial topic, or are people more accepting of them now? How much do tattoos still affect job opportunities?


Depending on the country, tattoos affect job opportunities more so in some career choices than others, with some organizations having very strict in-house tattoo policies. However, in general, the decision will lie with the individual employer and will depend upon the placement of your tattoos, and what the tattoos portray in terms of image. 

Times Have Changed 

What used to be a sign of rebellious bikers is now seen by people more of a way of expression. Tattoos aren’t as frowned upon as they once were, and attitudes towards them have definitely changed as people realize that tattoos don’t make somebody any less of a great person

It’s relatively normal to see both men and women sporting big tattoos or a full sleeve, and nobody bats an eyelid. In fact, a well-crafted sleeve turns heads out of respect.

You’ve probably even been served by somebody with tattoos in your local supermarket or fast-food restaurant, and you might not have yet realized it. Let’s face it; tattoos are everywhere, and they are not the visual eye-catchers they once were when they were much less common.

Surely, this means that employers are warming up to the idea of not discriminating against potential employees with tattoos, right? Apparently not. It turns out 76 percent of surveyed individuals feel that job prospects are damaged due to being tattooed.

Facial Tattoos 

There’s definitely a view amongst people that see some placement of tattoos more socially acceptable than others. 

The biggest issue that people seem to have regarding tattoo placement is the neck and face. While other body parts are seen to be ok, people find neck and face tattoos almost intimidating. 

This is more than likely based on people’s prejudices, and that face tattoos aren’t seen to be socially or professionally acceptable right now. 

Face and neck tattoos can’t be hidden like others, and so they’re almost more permanent than any other tattoos you have. A recent study shows that six out of 10 employers would be substantially less likely to employ anybody with a face tattoo. 

Work Uniform 

While employers can’t openly discriminate against you for having tattoos, they do have the potential to reject you if you have tattoos that are on display when in uniform. 

Check out the company’s policy regarding tattoos, most of them have renewed and updated their policies to reflect these views.

If you have to wear a short-sleeved uniform, for example, and you have tattoos on your arms, then you’ll need to discuss this with your employer. It may be that you might have to wear long-sleeved clothing underneath the uniform.

What Do Employers Say?

Another research study shows that 23% of employers said that tattoos wouldn’t affect their decision to employ a person. 

But, 35% of them spoke about this being circumstantial and dependent upon the placement of the tattoo/s and whether or not they were offensive. 

It’s clear that tattoos are something that’s considered by employers, whether they say this or not.

Potential employers are judging you as soon as you walk into the interview room, so you should consider whether or not to walk in with your tattoos on display

Contradicting Research 

There are a lot of studies that have been done regarding this topic, and they all have varying results.

One study conducted by a university professor showed that tattoos have a very minimal impact on job prospects. In fact, it concluded that a person with tattoos could be 7% more likely to find jobs than others! No, we weren’t expecting that result either! 

Different Locations Have Different Cultures 

While tattoos are much more acceptable in America and Europe, they can still be a very taboo subject in other cultures. 

If you visit the Middle East, for example, you’ll probably feel like an animal in a cage with the number of people staring at the ink on your body.

Japan is another country you could be made to feel unwelcome in if you have tattoos. Japan has a long history of disliking tattoos, with some shops even displaying “no tattoos allowed” signage, stopping people with tattoos from entering! 

The Japanese government label tattoos as “barbaric,” and they’re certainly frowned upon by many locals, too. 

Different cultures undoubtedly result in a different way of living, and tattoos aren’t yet deemed as acceptable in some of them.

Careers With Strict Tattoo Policies 

Some careers are less lenient than others in their acceptance of tattoos. In some professions, tattoos are deemed unprofessional. 

Such professions include working in law enforcement, the military, the government and hospitals. Some will not accept any application from a person with a tattoo, while others, such as cabin crew, will require you to keep covered.

Can Tattoos Be Removed?

In short, yes, tattoos can be removed. But, bear in mind that it can be timely, painful and pretty costly. 

Tattoos can be removed by a laser, where pulses of energy penetrate the skin and are then absorbed by the ink of the tattoo. The ink shatters apart into tiny pieces as the ink absorbs the energy, eventually disappearing altogether.

Depending on where you go for laser treatment will depend on the quality of the machine they use, which will, of course, have a reflection on the price. 

It’s not possible to remove a tattoo in the first laser session, and some require multiple sessions, depending on how deep the tattoo is, how old it is and what colors are in it. 

Laser treatment can also be excruciating and is described as an elastic band continuously flicking against your skin. 

Final Thoughts 

The amount that tattoos affect potential job opportunities depends on the type of work that you do. Most general jobs will be more accepting of tattoos in the workplace compared to a decade ago.

Face tattoos are still considered to be inappropriate, and it’s likely that people with them will find job hunting much more difficult than others. However, in general, if you have tattoos that aren’t deemed as offensive and can be covered up with relative ease, then you shouldn’t meet too much resistance in nailing that job you’re targeting.