Designing a future in body art and piercing

As a body piercer, you would pierce various parts of your clients’ bodies with a needle or piercing gun and then insert different types of jewellery and metal as a form of decoration.

Your work would include:

l discussing with the client the type of piercing they want and advising on what may be suitable

l explaining the procedure and pointing out any risks involved

l advising on suitable types of metal and jewellery

l sterilising the piece of jewellery and the area which is being pierced

l disposing of the needle following health and safety guidelines

l showing the client how to care for the piercing as it heals, and what to do if there is a problem.

You could also train as a tattooist, and offer this service as well as piercing.

You would usually work five or six days a week, often including weekends. You may also work in the evening if your studio offers late-night opening.

You will be based in a studio or salon, which could be part of a beauty salon. You could also work as an ear piercer in a jewellery shop.

The amount you earn will depend on your personal talent and ability, the reputation of the studio or salon and, if you are self-employed, your ability to promote your business.

Other factors that will affect your earnings are the number of hours you work, the amount of competition in the area, and whether you offer tattooing as well as piercing.

As a trainee you may receive only travelling expenses at some studios, at others you will be paid a salary.

It is usual for body piercers to train through an apprenticeship with a skilled and experienced piercer.

Your apprenticeship would include learning about sterilisation, disinfection, cross-contamination, the possible dangers to the circulatory and nervous systems, how to identify when a piercing is not suitable for a client, other relevant health and safety issues.

You should approach reputable local registered body piercers for details of possible training opportunities.

You can do short training courses run by private studios throughout the country. However, it is not possible to become a fully trained body piercer by this route, and it is recommended by the industry that you do an apprenticeship. This is because of the serious health problems which can be caused by incorrect or unhygienic piercing.

Skills you will need to become a body-piercer or tattooist will include good hand-eye coordination and a steady hand, very high standards of cleanliness and constant awareness of the need for hygiene, knowledge of health and safety, good spoken communication skills and customer service skills.

As an experienced body piercer, you could set up your own salon, possibly employing other piercers or tattooists.