Becoming a Piercer
Quite often we receive contact from members of the public asking how to get into the piercing industry. We hope that this page offers some useful advice and insight into how to proceed.
There are no shortcuts to being a good piercer.
Learning to pierce is going to take time, dedication, and perseverance, but it’s super important to know that you are making the best start. Training with a professional piercer is the accepted way to get into the industry. This is sometimes known as an apprenticeship, however, as this is a recognised legal term in the UK, this should really be described as being a ‘trainee piercer’ rather than an apprentice. This means that you work in the piercing studio and learn from an experienced mentor. They will teach you everything from hygiene practices and avoiding cross-contamination to jewellery standards and physically how to perform a piercing. It’s unrealistic to expect to be working on clients straight away, but it is likely that you will spend the early days shadowing your mentor while they explain how they work. Training as a piercer can last anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years depending on your mentor’s teaching style and how facts you learn. Even after that though, it’s always important that you continue ‘forever learning’ as a piercer and continue to adapt, listen and move forward throughout your career.
It’s important to note that being a trainee piercer will not be linked to a college course (like a hairdressing apprenticeship, for example) because there is no formal qualification in body piercing. This means that what you learn and the way that you learn it will be determined by your mentor.
Would I get paid?
Until recent years, it was common that piercing trainees were unpaid because your mentor was training you to potentially become their competition. However, that viewpoint is very old fashioned these days and by law, you should be paid a fair living wage while you are training. It is impossible to learn if you’re worrying about how to make ends meet so you should be earning while you learn within the studio. Some studios may also be able to offer you shifts working front of house to supplement your income.
The UKAPP does not advocate unpaid training programmes and we would strongly advise prospective trainees to see it as a red flag if a studio is asking you to do unpaid work or to pay them to teach you.
It is also important to note here that you should never be asked to pay in sexual favours for your piercing education and bullying or hazing should never be part of your training. If you are in a situation like this, please seek help and get out immediately.
What about piercing courses?
Unfortunately, piercing courses are not recommended. It simply isn’t possible to teach everything you would need to know to pierce safely and independently by completing a course that lasts only a few days or weeks. Piercing courses are a money-making enterprise, often set up by piercers using outdated methods, and many people who do a course end up having to look for an apprenticeship later to fill all the gaps in their knowledge.
Is there anything I can study to help get into the piercing industry?
We would highly recommend that you do a First Aid and a CPR course as this will be a requirement in order to apply for your registration with your local council. We also recommend doing a Blood Borne Pathogens course to gain an understanding of what blood borne pathogens are and how to reduce cross contamination.
You would need to be 18+ to be taken on as a piercing trainee. If you’re under 18 and choosing college subjects, it may be worth considering which subjects might help you in your future piercing career. We would particularly recommend Biology to give you a good base knowledge of anatomy and how the body heals, as well as Business Studies to help you to potentially be self employed in the future. It’s also very important to have great communication skills, reading and writing skills (there’s often lots of emails to answer, troubleshooting or explaining how to take care of a piercing etc), and good organisation skills.
How do I get a studio to take me on?
It’s very important to make sure that you are training at a studio that works to high standards. Accepting a role in a less than ideal shop can sometimes hinder your progress if you are learning outdated methods or not being paid. We would advise that you find piercing studios local to you that are working to a high standard (check out our member’s listing to help you find somewhere) and start by getting pierced there and being a ‘good client.’ Whilst a studio may advertise that they are looking to take on a trainee, many trainees start by being a regular face in a studio so that the piercer has already got to know them and their passion for piercing before taking them on. It is rare that a studio will take on a trainee from a “cold call” or “cold email.”
We hope that this guide has answered some of your questions about how to get into the piercing industry and dispelled any myths. We wish you the best of luck on your journey!