Today I’ll be answering all of your questions about piercing apprenticeships! These questions were taken via our instagram, so make sure you follow us there so you don’t miss anything!
We have started a series on apprenticeships as this is something we are asked about all the time! Click here to read all of them.
How long does it take? How much does it cost?
A good apprenticeship is between 2 and 3 years long. Anything shorter than two years is dangerously short and will not give you the education that you need! You should never be charged for an apprenticeship -They should be free. You should expect to be financially compensated for your time.
What do the first few months of an apprenticeship look like?
The first few months of an apprenticeship are pretty dull! The main task is training the new apprentice to be able to work safely in a new environment. Bloodborne pathogens training and first aid must be completed, alongside learning how to handle contaminated medical waste, how to handle sterile stock, how to reprocess tools, and how to general work to a high hygiene standard. The first few months are also dedicated to familiarising the new apprentice to jewellery – What sizes go where, what conversions between fractional inches and millimetres are, how to use calipers, how to measure jewellery, what brands we stock and what each brand offers! You shouldn’t expect to even pick up a needle until you are a good few months into your apprenticeship, and may not pierce a human being until the 5-6 month mark.
How common is being paid for your apprenticeship?
It is unfortunately not so common in the UK to be paid for your apprenticeship. That being said, this should not be the standard as everyone should be fairly compensated for their time. There is a movement within high quality studios to abolish the practice of an unpaid apprenticeship, and this is something to be fully supported.
How far should you travel for an apprenticeship?
It is not uncommon to up sticks and move cross-country for the right opportunity! Consider this – Most people do not live in a town or city with a top university, and so most people move out of home in order to receive their education. You would have to be very lucky to find a high quality apprenticeship on your doorstep in your hometown. For example, we know multiple piercers who have moved across the United States or across the UK for the right opportunity – Some who have even travelled thousands of miles from another country to start their careers. If possible, don’t restrict yourself to studios within an easy commute of where you currently live. There are many potential apprentices who are willing to uproot and move at the drop of a hat.
What is the split like between working hours and free time?
Most apprenticeships are between 20-40 hours a week. You might be given extra reading to do in your spare time, or small pieces of homework to complete, but you should not be working more than a full-time job would ask of you! Apprentices should follow the same labour laws as any other job.
How old is the average apprentice?
The average piercer starts their apprenticeship when they are between 19 and 22 years old. Some start younger, however you should be at least 18 or older to start a safe apprenticeship. Being offered an apprenticeship as a minor is a major red flag in the modern piercing industry.
Is it possible to learn the art of piercing even though you don’t want a full on career out of it?
This is a tricky question to answer. The short answer is that you wouldn’t trust a part-time dentist or doctor.
The long answer would be: Piercing, like all careers, deserves your full and undivided attention in order for you to be skilled, safe and successful. Whilst it is possible to learn piercing and not pursue it once your apprenticeship is finished, the snagging point is that you aren’t fully grasping how much of a career and lifestyle rolled into one being a piercer is. The best piercers are those who have dedicated their lives to the industry and cannot see a fulfilling life without piercing being a major part of it. My question to you is: Why would you want to learn to pierce and not fully embrace every aspect of it?
I’ve seen piercing places offering piercing courses, is this a good step towards getting an apprenticeship?
Absolutely not! Piercing courses teach outdated and dangerous techniques when it comes to both safety and the piercing process itself. A good mentor would absolutely prefer to take on a blank slate rather than have to retrain someone out of sneaky bad habits. Piercing courses are often predatory, aiming to take advantage of those who are struggling to find a good apprenticeship. Do not fall foul of these.
What advice would you give for someone older (30+) looking to become a piercer?
I would say that it is never too late! That being said, I will admit that your chances of getting an apprenticeship do diminish with every passing year. Piercing is unfortunately often the realm of the young, and those piercers who are 30+ are often reaching the peaks of their skill and career and are usually considering taking an apprentice on themselves. To start so late can often leave you at a disadvantage, as disappointing as that may be to hear. Try and expand your expectations – Would working counter staff fulfil what you want to achieve?
Piercing is different everywhere. How do you know someone is doing it properly?
We have a whole blog on how to spot a quality studio. The best way to find a studio that is working to high standards is to look into the UKAPP or APP – Member studios have to meet minimum standards of safety and hygiene. That being said, there are many excellent studios who choose not to be members for whatever reason. Ensure your chosen piercer is working safely, using modern techniques, up-to-date aftercare advice, and appropriate jewellery. For example, you do not want to learn from someone offering tongue scoop piercings or surface piercings using curved barbells, or from someone who is using butterfly backs or externally threaded jewellery.
So there you have it! Some answers to your burning apprenticeship questions. As a note, we are not currently looking for an apprentice and will not be accepting any applications for an apprenticeship for the foreseeable future! However we are more than happy to help you, so get in touch if you have any questions.