With body-jewelry becoming increasingly popular, there's a fresh demand for talented piercing experts. Piercers enjoy a career meeting new people, making them feel good and achieve their perfect look. And, thanks to celebrity piercers like Maria Tash, people of all ages are now turning to body jewelry and creative piercings to express themselves freely.
But how do you become a body piercer and is it a good career? Well, the good news is anyone can become a piercer, and getting started is relatively easy. That said, while the barrier of entry is low, piercing is a skill that requires training and experience to perform competently.
Below, you'll find our guide on becoming a body piercer with everything you need to know to get your foot in the door!
First things first, let’s recap what a body piercer actually does. Body piercers belong to the aesthetic and cosmetics industry and are professionally trained to insert needles through the skin for the purpose of jewelry wearing.
Piercers provide their services to people who are looking to enhance their look, heighten sensation, and for cultural reasons too.
Most piercers are trained to performed piercings on a wide range of body parts. As well as ears, eyebrows, and noses, people will also request cheeks, lips, navels, intimate piercings, and under-skin insertions.
The daily tasks of a body piercer are:
A good piercer is far more than someone who pokes metal through people’s skin. The job requires an assortment of different soft skills in addition to the technical ability required.
Excellent fine-motor skills: people expect their piercings to be exactly positioned. A nose piercing that's too high or too, for instance, can ruin the effect and upset customers. Having a steady hand and the ability to use tools precisely is vital.
Be personable: while a piercing veteran might not even blink during the procedure, most people will be fairly nervous going in. Less-standard piercings such as tongue piercings jewelry require piercers to have solid interpersonal skills to reassure and make customers comfortable throughout.
Visual skills: oftentimes, a customer will be unsure what type of piercing to get or the placement. This requires piercers to be able to envision how a piercing would look and make a recommendation.
Communicative: people will ask a lot of questions before getting a piercing, requiring piercers to give a lot of answers. They will also need to clearly explain how to care for piercings after the procedure.
Piercing is something of a passion for most piercers and most get into the profession for the love of the custom.
Before embarking on a career as a pierce, ask yourself if piercing is something you truly care about. Can you envision yourself performing piercings for other people and find satisfaction in your work doing so?
If the answer is yes, then immerse yourself in piercing culture. Read the magazines, visit the online communities, pour over advice and comments, absorbing as much information as you can about the industry.
In the USA, states differ in what qualifications and licenses are needed to perform piercings. With needles, blood, and other risk factors involved, it’s important to err on the side of caution and take these health and safety classes regardless.
Blood pathogens class: explores how unsafe body piercing can lead to increased risk of bloodborne infections and disease. Teaches students the best ways to minimize risk. These classes can be taken both online and offline at learning centers such as community colleges. Look for OSHA-registered classes if possible.
First Aid/CPR classes: piercing involves procedures involving the human body that could cause people to have an adverse reaction. Most states, then, require people to have first aid and CPR training before becoming licensed. These classes are quite abundant and organizations such as the Red Cross regularly host training events.
According to the Association of Professional Piercers, the very best way to become a body piercer is to undertake an apprenticeship. This way, you will learn everything first-hand with real experience.
You will need to put in some legwork here and find a piercing studio willing to take you on as an apprentice. These can be paid or unpaid roles and you should ideally find an apprenticeship in a studio that follows local laws and has good values. Look for a mentor that is eager to teach and patient.
In most states, to become licensed you will need to complete 1200 hours work for the studio performing various duties.
As a minimum, you will need to observe 100 hours or more of piercings performed by a professional. This should tally at least 50 piercings in total.
You will also need to perform 50 piercings yourself on various body parts while being supervised.
Most apprenticeships last around 6 months to 2 years depending on how often you visit the studio to work.
In most states, after completing your apprenticeship, you’ll need to obtain a license in order to work as a piercer. Your state’s health board website will inform you whether this is necessary with some states requiring further exams and observations to be made.
With your license, you are now ready to become a qualified piercer. Most piercers will work at a piercing studio or within a tattoo parlor. Others choose to work for themselves, setting up their own studio or performing freelance piercing work.
In the U.S., most piercers earn between $25-30 per hour. This is around the average hourly wage for workers with the added benefit of piecers holding an interesting, unique job.
For most new piercers, however, you can expect to earn around $22,000 per year. With experience, this will quickly ramp up with the ability to earn upwards of $45,000 per year.
The natural career path of a piercer is to become self-employed and open their own studio. This route leads to more freedom, more money, and the ability to train apprentices in the same way.
This is a satisfying career path as it is both rewarding and materially sufficient to live a decent lifestyle.
Some piercers also choose to specialize in certain kinds of piercings gaining a reputation for their work. This means you can charge a premium for your piercings and earn more money.
Becoming a body piercer is a lot of work but also extremely rewarding. Being able to make people feel good about their bodies with body jewelry offers something that a lot of other jobs do not. To become a piercer, however, you need to train hard as an apprentice under the tutorage of a mentor.