Can I Show My Tattoos At Work?

John Dietrich
Attitudes about tattoos are changing for the better. But whether tattoos are accepted in the workplace is still a little unclear. There may never be an overall consensus on what’s allowed and what’s not. Even if tattoos aren’t banned in the official rule book, people may still be judging them negatively. Many will say that you’re safe if you cover your tattoos at work. But is it ever acceptable to have your tattoo showing in the office? We asked a variety of professionals about their workplace expectations, and got their honest opinions about tattoos in the workplace. Check our infographic to discover which high paying jobs are tattoo-friendly and which ones aren’t!

Highest to Lowest Paying Tattoo-Friendly Jobs

These professional settings accept exposed tattoos in the workplace.

University Professor – $141,674 USD

Lindsay, a neuroscience professor in San Francisco: “it really hasn’t been any kind of obstacle for me. I work in a very liberal, open-minded setting, and I think, if anything, people have taken my tattoos positively.”

Start Up Developer – $65,806 USD

Leanne, a developer at a growing start-up: “they’re a non-issue. We think it shows personality.”

Non-Profit Researcher – $55,830 USD

Alex, a research coordinator at a non-profit: “a bunch of people have them. No one really cares. In fact, tattoos are the most tame form of self-expression in my office.”

Other Professions That Are No Tattoo Zones

Lawyer – $106,148 USD

Nick, a lawyer in Toronto, says that there’s “nothing in [their] official policy specifically forbidding tattoos, but there are rules about how much and which areas of skin can be showing.”

Sales Associate – $17,920 USD

Ashley, a sales associate: “There was a sign that said they don’t mind tattoos, and I just got a sleeve on my right arm, so it’s very visible when I roll my sleeves up. I showed up to work after I got it, and my boss- who, by the way, had tattoos everywhere- said that I needed to cover it, and couldn’t show it on the sales floor.

So what’s the common element of workplaces that aren’t tattoo friendly?

One can only speculate, but it looks as though customer-facing professional roles are much more cautious about exposed tattoos. As Matt, a developer from Toronto, described it, “At more longstanding organizations that place value on work-appropriate ways of dressing, I’m more cautious about showing them off. Everyone I work with knows, but basically never see them because of what I wear. I would never wear anything exposing my tattoos to meetings, and virtually never around the office just to avoid running into situations where people who don’t understand tattoos and tattoo culture form a prejudice against me that has nothing to do with who I am or the work I do.” Unfortunately, the public attitude toward tattoos is still mixed.

There are, however, places where the public attitude has shifted to a more accepting one.

Scarlett, a customer care employee at an e-commerce store in Berlin, says “My company is super relaxed, as are most companies in Berlin. The welcome packet even described our dress code as more ‘jeans and sneakers’ than ‘suit and tie.’” It turns out that Germany is one most tattoo-positive countries, alongside Italy and countries in the United Kingdom.

No one completely escapes judgment, but tattoo wearers are slowly becoming more accepted. Many professionals whose workplaces don’t accept tattoos have simply decided to get inked in places where they can easily be hidden. If, however, you do wish to show your tattoo even at the workplace, it may be easier to avoid customer-facing jobs- unless, of course, you’re a professional tattoo artist!

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