Professional piercers enable women and men to wear earrings and studs in their ears, belly buttons and more private areas for creativity and style. Piercers, who work at tattoo parlors, beauty salons and independent shops, must use proper sterilization techniques when piercing clients' body parts to avoid contamination. If you like piercings and can tolerate poking holes in people, working as a professional piercer may be the perfect career. You can expect to earn a salary averaging less than $30,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average salary of a professional piercer was $29,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. To work as a professional piercer, you need a high school diploma and three months of classroom training, where you'll learn about sterilization, cross-contamination and disinfection, according to the Association of Professional Piercers. You'll then spend six months to one year training as an apprentice. Also, you'll likely have to take courses in blood pathogens, first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Other important qualifications include manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination and communication and customer service skills.
In 2013, average salaries for professional piercers varied the most in the South, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the lowest salaries of $23,000 and the highest of $46,000. Those in the Midwest made $23,000 to $31,000 per year in South Dakota and Minnesota. If you worked as a professional piercer in the Northeast, you'd earn $26,000 in Maine or $35,000 in Massachusetts, the lowest and highest earnings in that region. In the West, you'd make the most in Alaska or California or the least in Montana, at $33,000 or $23,000, respectively.
If you're self-employed, your income as a professional piercer is contingent on the number of clients you serve. Some ways you can best attract clients include advertising in the print and online Yellow Pages and in coupon magazines distributed to local residents. Professional piercers earn more in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., because living costs are higher in that state and district. Consequently, piercers can typically charge more for their services in more expensive areas. For example, if you earned $30,000 as a professional piercer in Jackson, Miss., you'd need to make $46,452 in Boston to enjoy the same living standard, according to CNN Money's cost of living calculator. In Washington, D.C., you'd need to earn $47,537 to maintain your living standard, or approximately 58 percent more.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't forecast jobs for professional piercers. It only projects a 5-percent increase in jobs for craft and fine artists, slower than average. While piercers fall in the category of fine artists, they may have more available job opportunities than most, because 83 percent of Americans have earlobe piercings and 14 percent have body piercings, according to Statistic Brain. Earlobe piercing is a rite of passage for young girls, and more men have piercings in the 21st century than in the past. Piercings have also become fashion statements, particularly for women, which may also spur more job openings in this field.
2016 Salary Information for Craft and Fine Artists
Craft and fine artists earned a median annual salary of $49,250 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, craft and fine artists earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,210, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $70,210, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 53,300 people were employed in the U.S. as craft and fine artists.
- National Careers Service: Body Piercer
- Simply Hired: Average Tattoo & Body Piercing Salaries
- Association of Professional Piercers: How to Become a Piercer
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Craft and Fine Artists: Job Outlook
- Statistic Brain: Body Piercing Statistics
- Simply Hired: Average Tattoo & Body Piercing Salaries in ME, NY and MA
- Simply Hired: Average Tattoo & Body Piercing Salaries in MT, AK and CA
- Simply Hired: Average Tattoo & Body Piercing Salaries in MS and DC
- Simply Hired: Average Tattoo & Body Piercing Salaries in SD, IL and MN
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Craft and Fine Artists
- Career Trend: Craft and Fine Artists
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images