By choice and by necessity, Rebecca McIntyre bases her career
goals on her 13 tattoos and 15 body piercings.
The sophomore English major has no desire to hold a typical job
in the future nor does she believe she would be hired because of
her uncommon appearance.
“It’s just really sad that employers would hire someone much
less educated and less qualified for the job just because they look
normal,” McIntyre said. “I just get overlooked because of my blue
hair and my piercings.”
With the current trend of tattoos and body piercings, Robin
Pelkey, the office manager at Vaught Frye Architects, warned that
tattoos and piercings may hinder an individual’s ability to get a
professional job in certain instances.
“If someone was qualified I wouldn’t deny them the job because
of tattoos, but it would also depend on the kind of job,” Pelkey
said. “If the job is one where they are meeting with clients, it
would probably be negative.”
Rachel Evans, a junior merchandising major, pierced her nose
after high school graduation and said she is comfortable with the
temporariness of piercings.
“Depending on where I go with my career, I’ll most likely take
it out,” Evans said. “I’m sure I would look more professional
Patrick Moran, owner of JP Moran Design, said that while the
disapproval of tattoos and piercings depends on the career choice,
students should realize that environment changes following
“Think hard about the placement of the tattoo,” Moran said.
“Just because you go to school in a relatively liberal and tolerant
area doesn’t mean you’re always going to be there. When it comes to
large scale businesses or teaching, it starts to become a bigger
Judy Brobst, associate director at the Career Center, said
students need to realize there are no legal ramifications to
denying a person a job because of tattoos and body piercings.
Therefore students should understand what is acceptable in their
future career fields prior to pursuing a tattoo or piercing.
“Students need to look at where they want to go career-wise,”
Brobst said. “Evaluate where they are going and how piercings and
tattoos will affect people that they are going to be interacting
with in the future.”
Brobst said she worked with a student who had gotten her nose
pierced and wanted to go into education. Upon applying for an
internship in the school system, school officials requested the
student either remove her nose piercing or minimize the size of the
The principal of O’Dea Core Knowledge Elementary, Ruth Herron,
agreed that piercings and tattoos are a deterrent for potential
“I’d have to take into consideration that it might be
inappropriate for young kids and I’d have to take into
consideration how the community and the parent community would feel
about it,” Herron said. “Whatever we would expect from our own
students we also expect from others.”
Jason Killip, a junior business finance major, has to remove his
ear piercings for his job at Lithia of Fort Collins because of the
company’s dress code, but said he understands the rationale.
“I think that (tattoos and piercings) are kind of a distraction
no matter what,” Killip said. “If a customer is noticing a tattoo
or piercing it could drive away business.”
While visible piercings and tattoos may hinder certain
professions, there are other areas in the professional world that
do not view them as entirely negative.
“In my industry (graphic design) it doesn’t give a negative or a
positive impression,” Moran said. “Piercings are sort of the norm
and with tattoos it would depend what the tattoo was: if it was
politically charged or socially charged it may give me cause to
investigate further about that person, but normally I wouldn’t
really even factor in the tattoos.”
While McIntyre has aspirations to own a bookstore and become a
tattoo artist rather than enter the business world, she believes
businesses will need to become increasingly accepting of piercings
“It will get to the point that if a business is trying to hire
someone it will be almost impossible to find a qualified person
without tattoos or piercings,” McIntyre said. “I think it will
become more and more the norm.”