Body piercing has been gaining popularity since the 1990s. This ever-evolving and still (in the West) fairly new scene is an exciting industry to work in. You might invent the next trendy ear piercing or refine a method for inserting microdermals; you might even create the next thing in surface piercing. But though the job has a lot of opportunity for exploring possibilities and collaborating with clients to create extreme body modifications, it takes attention to detail, a good regard for hygiene and a lot of application to be a good body piercer. It's not all suspension parties and corset piercing photo shoots. But if this career appeals to you, here's how to become a professional body piercer.
The body piercing industry in the UK is currently unregulated, and therefore there are no recognised qualifications. However, piercers have a legal duty of care and therefore studios are checked by local authorities to maintain compliance with legal standards of health, hygiene and safety.
Body piercers train through:
- a modern apprenticeship with an experienced piercer. The British School of Body Piercing offers its own training courses, and if you're in the US, the Association of Professional Piercers also recommends an apprenticeship.
- Some studios offer courses instead of apprenticeships
- It's advisable to take First Aid courses and classes on blood-borne pathogens.
A body piercer's daily duties include:
- Cleaning and sterilising equipment and work areas, and using the autoclave to sterilise tools and jewellery
- Ensuring clients fill out all relevant paperwork
- Preparing skin for piercing, including sterilisation, numbing spray (if necessary) and cleaning.
- Meeting with clients, talking through the process, discussing the placement of the piercing, marking the spot, outlining any risks involved, and explaining aftercare.
- Recommending aftercare products to clients
- Piercing, including the use of needles and other specialist equipment
- Disposing of used needles safely and appropriately
- Keeping up to date on health and safety procedures.
Skills which are desirable to be a successful body piercer include:
- Good hand-eye coordination to be a successful body piercer.
- Very high standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
- Great customer service skills
- Attention to detail
- Good social skills
Most body piercers are self-employed and salaries vary widely depending on the stage of your career and whether or not you own the studio. The summer months are usually the busiest- that's when everyone wants their belly button done! According to the National Careers Service, salaries are variable depending on your ability to promote your business (if you are self employed) and competition in the area. This table shows a breakdown of typical salaries at each career level.
Junior body piercer
Experienced body piercer
Head body piercer/shop owner
If this sounds like the career you want, then what are you waiting for? Go and enquire about apprenticeships at a local body piercing studio, and soon you could be well on your way to achieving your dream job.