Body piercers use needles to make puncture holes or incisions to the skin on different parts of their client’s body. They then insert metal, acrylic or glass jewellery as a decoration. The most common part to pierce is the ear lobe, but body piercers also pierce ear cartilage, noses, eyebrows, lips, tongues and other body parts.
You could be:
discussing the particular type of piercing wanted with the client: for example the risks involved in piercing cartilage, or in piercing parts of the mouth
getting the client to show ID and to fill in a consent form covering health problems
advising on types of metals, for example non-toxic metals like surgical steel, 14 carat gold, titanium or zircon
sterilising the piece of jewellery using an autoclave and cleaning the body part with germicidal soap
removing a new hollow cannula needle from the packaging and puncturing the skin and, if necessary, the cartilage
alternatively, using a piercing gun, this is usually only for earlobes
inserting a piece of jewellery as wide as the needle into the piercing
carefully disposing of the needle in a special container
showing the client how to help the piercing heal correctly and what to do if there is a problem.
Some body piercers also offer a tattoo service (see job article Tattooist).
Actual income varies widely, depending on:
where you work
the amount of competition in the area
the hours you work.
As a self-employed body piercer you usually charge a set fee per piercing. Prices range from about £30 to about £70 depending on which body part you work on. Any jewellery you provide will cost the client extra.
You work in a studio or shop which might be part of a tattoo studio or beauty salon.
You wear latex gloves and keep your equipment in sterile conditions.
You might have to work weekends and some evenings.
It is recommended you are immunised against Hepatitis B.
You may have to pay to take out public liability insurance if you have your own business.
You do not need formal qualifications. The most common way in is by doing a traineeship lasting from one to three years.
It can be difficult to find suitable training with a registered body piercer.
You must learn about health and safety issues such as sterilisation, cross-contamination or the risk to circulatory and nervous systems.
After your training you might have to agree not to set up within a certain distance of the studio where you learned the trade.
Some private studios run courses in body piercing lasting a few days, but these do not fully train you.
You must register yourself and premises with the local authority in order to be licensed. They will carry out regular inspections of your premises and equipment.
You must also comply with any local byelaws relating to hygiene, health and safety.
There are jobs in body piercing studios, tattoo studios, shops and beauty therapy salons. Look for jobs offering training on the Find a Job service on GOV.UK or in Jobcentre Plus offices. You might have to move to another town or city. Many registered body piercers are self-employed.
a responsible attitude – to turn away a client who appears underage or who has doubts
good communication skills
a calm, reassuring approach – for clients who are nervous or in pain
good business skills
care and attention to detail.
Training with a registered body piercer lasts 1-3 years.
Check that any courses you are considering are recognised by the industry.
During your training you might get a salary or you may only get travelling expenses.
Success will depend on the location of your studio and the reputation you build up by word of mouth.
For full recognition you should register with an appropriate professional body, such as the UK Association of Professional Piercers.
In Scotland you can apply for the Tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence (Scotland) from your local authority. This licence covers:
semi-permanent skin colouring
Young people under 16 can only have body piercing if they have a parent with them who will give their written consent to the piercing. However, some piercing studios have higher age restrictions depending on the area of the body being pierced.