Tattoos in the Workplace Statistics: Is Getting Inked an Obstacle?

The art of tattooing dates back thousands of years, with evidence of nearly all ancient cultures engaging in the practice. Remains from the neolithic era, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans show they all used tattoos for various purposes.

For much of recent history, however, tattoos have been considered taboo, especially in the West. Although sailors and military personnel have long embraced ink, until the 1970s, it was unusual to see body art among the general public.

Keep reading to find out how body art reflects on the attitudes in the workplace.

Top Tattoos in the Workplace Statistics: Editor’s Choice

  • About 40% of the US workforce has tattoos.
  • Nearly all women are fine with their coworkers showing tattoos at work.
  • Only 12% of people with tattoos have them visible in the workplace.
  • Women are more likely to face discrimination because of tattoos at work than men.
  • About 40% of employees believe tattoos aren’t appropriate in the workplace.
  • Almost 90% of people accept ink on professional athletes and personal trainers.
  • Outright discrimination against tattoos at work is low, reported by only 4% of people.
  • Young employees are statistically more likely to have tattoos than the older generation.

General Tattoos in the Workplace Facts

It may appear that tattoos are more prevalent today than ever before. Millennials are often credited for the positive shift in attitude toward body art. Let’s look at what percentage of the workforce is tattooed and how likely are employers to hire people with ink.

1. Approximately 40% of people aged 18-34 in the US have a tattoo.

Young people are statistically more likely than the older generations to have a tattoo. That’s likely due to workplaces becoming more open to body art. Around 36% of people aged 35-50 have a tattoo, while the percentage of Americans over 50 with tattoos is only 16%.

Not surprising, as company culture statistics indicate that millennials value “culture fit” above everything else.

2. Over 90% of managers say workplaces are less formal regarding tattoos and attire than a decade ago.

Most managers consider some things that used to be problematic in the workplace—visible tattoos, casual attire, and emojis in emails—to be completely acceptable now. They attribute this change to relaxed social norms and workplaces catering to a younger generation.

3. Around 94% of women have no problem with employees showing tattoos at work.

Tattoo statistics for 2022 reveal that while most women don’t mind other people having their ink visible at work, they don’t necessarily think their employers feel the same way. Namely, they don’t believe their employers have kept up with cultural changes surrounding tattoos.

4. Only 12% of people with tattoos don’t hide them at work.

That indicates there’s still some stigma surrounding tattoos in the workplace. Although many employees have tattoos, few are willing to show them off at work. That’s not without reason, as almost 40% of people consider those with tattoos to reflect poorly on the employer.

5. 76% of people feel visible tattoos hurt an applicant’s chances in an interview.

Facts about tattoos and piercings reveal that whether someone feels a tattoo should be hidden in a job interview depends largely on their age. Additionally, job interview statistics show that 71% of companies will reject a candidate for dressing inappropriately.

6. Around 86% of people accept tattoos on athletes.

The general public is more accepting of ink if you’re a professional athlete, tattoos and jobs statistics show. Among careers that allow tattoos are personal trainers, as body art is considered to enhance their image. However, it’s the opposite for tattoos in the medical field, as medical professionals with tattoos or the military follow strict rules about getting inked.

7. Over 40% of people believe tattoos are inappropriate at work.

42% consider displaying tattoos to be never appropriate in the workplace. What’s more, 55% believe the same about piercings. Age is a significant factor, as tattoo popularity statistics show that younger employees are less likely to have a problem with body art at work.

8. Italy has the highest percentage of tattooed people, with 48% of the population.

Sweden comes second in terms of inked population, at 47%, followed by the US, at 46%. Israel is at the bottom of the list, with 25% according to tattoo statistics by country. Many Latin American countries have a low percentage of tattooed people because the ink is commonly associated with gangs.

9. Approximately 63% of people over 60 feel that tattoos are inappropriate at work.

Only 22% of people aged 18-25 agree that ink doesn’t belong in the workplace, but the percentage increases steadily with age. But, on a positive note, 58% of all employees approve of the display of body art, according to tattoos in the workplace statistics.

10. More than 30% of people with higher levels of education have tattoos.

About 32% of all students with higher levels of education have tattoos, compared to 27% of those without college degrees. Additionally, 43% of people decide to ink to commemorate a person they love, while 37% do it because they consider it stylish and beautiful.

Tattoo Discrimination Statistics

Tattoos and jobs discrimination seem to go hand-in-hand. While the US might be one of the tattoo-friendly countries globally, but not when it comes to the workplace. Older people often disapprove of inked employees, and they still make up the majority of the workforce. So, let’s find out if people with tattoos face discrimination at work.

11. Only 4% of people with tattoos report experiencing discrimination at work.

Tattoos in the workplace facts indicate that outright discrimination against employees with ink is low. That’s likely because people aged 18-25, who tend to be tattooed, have entered the workforce in recent years. They’ve accelerated the acceptance of body art in formal environments.

12. About 15% of women report discrimination at work because of tattoos.

Discrimination against women with tattoos is higher than against men, statistics on tattoos show. However, only 2% report being fired from a job because of tattoos, and 11% say that prevented them from getting a job.

13. About 21% of women are afraid to mention their tattoos to their employers.

A survey on tattoos shows that women with tattoos are more often viewed as less intelligent, promiscuous, or alcoholics than those without. According to statistics about tattoos in the workplace, discrimination from clients, colleagues, and managers is more likely to occur against women than men.

14. Discrimination against tattoos leads to a 30% reduction in eligible candidates.

Although acceptance of tattoos at work is rising, many employers still balk at the idea of hiring applicants with tattoos. As the number of people with body art worldwide increases, employers who invoke no tattoo policies will experience a smaller pool of potential hires.

Tattoos in the Workplace 2022: The Takeaway

While it might seem like everyone has a tattoo these days, the work environment still brings stigma surrounding ink and piercings. The influx of millennials into the workforce has certainly shifted the perception of tattoos, but older employees still mostly regard them as inappropriate.

Women and other minorities are more likely to experience the negative effects of having ink visible at work. That means companies who actively discriminate against tattoos risk employing a much less diverse workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of the workforce has tattoos?

According to statistics, the number of professionals with tattoos has increased dramatically, reaching 46% in recent years.

Young people are much more likely to have tattoos than the older generations. Almost 40% of 18-25-year-olds, 36% of 34-56, and only 16% of people over 55 have at least one tattoo. About 30% of higher-educated people have ink, compared to 27% of those without a college degree.

Do tattoos ruin job opportunities?

Few tattooed employees report facing open discrimination because of their tattoos—15% of women and 4% of all people. About 2% of women have been fired because of a tattoo, and 11% report not receiving a job because of a tattoo.

However, a large number of people, 76%, report that tattoos negatively affect the chances of getting a job. Whether that’s true largely depends on the industry, the size, type, and location of your tattoos, and the workplace culture you’re applying to.

Are tattoos in the workplace acceptable?

These days, tattoos are much more acceptable than ten years ago. Managers report that as social norms have relaxed in general, the workplaces followed. Office culture is now much more tolerant of casual attire, piercings, and tattoos. The influx of millennials in the workplace is the primary reason for shifting public perception of body art.

What jobs don’t allow tattoos?

There are no law articles against tattoos in the workplace, so companies are free to make their own rules. So, it’s up to the employer whether they want to allow it.

Some industries are more tolerant of tattoos than others, while jobs that don’t allow tattoos are usually pretty strict and relentless about the policy. 

Doctors, for example, are more unlikely to have ink than software engineers. The strictest tattoo policies are in the military, and some branches prohibit any visible ink, as tattoos in the workplace statistics show.


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