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Body piercers work artistic jobs in social environments, but they must gain solid expertise in their field to find success. There is no blanket piercing certification process, but professional piercers may undergo training in any of several formats: by video, magazine, seminar or training class, and take the appropriate classes to learn about bloodborne pathogens. They should also go through a piercing apprenticeship under well-respected, highly skilled and experienced professionals, ideally who are members of the Association of Professional Piercers.
Aspiring piercers, who are just starting out, should look into training options, ideally through local piercing shops or from a body piercing school. The Exotic Body in Sacramento, California, for example, holds a piercing seminar to help aspiring piercers learn the basic skills they need to succeed in the piercing world. These seminars are small – no more than two participants at a time – and learners get the chance to complete as many as 25 piercings under a supervising instructor.
Make sure to complete your seminar at an institution with membership with the Association of Professional Piercers (APP)
As a piercer, you'll be handling people's bodies and assuming responsibility for their health and safety during the piercing process. Piercers-in-training should obtain the appropriate safety instruction for this level of responsibility. This includes:
- A bloodborne pathogens training class, such as one provided by APP, the Red Cross, the National Safety Council or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- A First Aid/CPR class, given by the Red Cross or the YMCA, for example.
- Train full-time for at least three months to learn about sterilization, disinfection, cross-contamination and other health and safety issues.
The most important part of the training process for a prospective piercer is the piercing apprenticeship, which should cover safety training, along with training in customer service and in the actual piercing process itself. The APP recommends that apprentices stay in supervised training full-time for six months to a year. They should do so in a reputable body piercing school or studio under professionals, who have extensive experience, and then observe all piercing procedures before attempting any; and, only attempt piercing procedures under close supervision by a senior or training partner.
The APP provides a digital book of suggested apprentice body piercer guidelines and curricula for potential piercing mentors. The curriculum provides mentors with some framework for how to train piercers, and potential piercers, with some basis as to how to seek out a mentor.
Check out piercing apprenticeship options at local piercing studios. Body Art & Soul Tattoos in Brooklyn, New York provides its apprentices with training in professional development, practice assessments and real-world work experience. Apprenticeships at Body Art & Soul Tattoos offer hands-on learning, practice opportunities and supervised piercing. This apprenticeship, however, only lasts eight weeks – significantly shorter than the six to 12 months that the APP recommends.
The APP states in its apprenticeship guide that the organization sets a minimum standard for piercing apprenticeships, including observation hours and supervised piercing procedures. However, mentors at body piercing schools and their apprentices, can modify the experience to suit both of their needs and career goals.
- Check with your state regarding apprenticeships and legal rights to perform body piercings without a license.
- If you travel out of your home state for this profession, be sure to research that state's laws regarding body piercing as well.
- This profession involves contact with bodily fluids and customers who may have unanticipated reactions to physical pain. Keep hygiene and personal safety a main priority at all times.
Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.