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The Current State of Apprenticeships

We are not currently offering a piercing apprenticeship at Rogue. Please do not contact us to ask for one!

If you know anything about Rogue, you know we love a bit of data! Over the past 8 weeks, we have sent out a survey to over a hundred international piercers to fill out in order to gather data on the current state of piercing apprenticeships.

We all know that there are very few piercing apprenticeships being offered internationally – But why is a very big question! We don’t like to just give people a flat no, and we think its important that would-be apprentices know what they’re up against if they want a great start into the industry.

The vast majority of responses were from the USA and the UK.

Of all the responses from the questionnaire, a huge proportion of piercers are active within the UK and USA. This means that any data collected will the skewed towards a more eurocentric response!

A large proportion of respondees have been piercing for close to a decade.

Most of the responses came from experienced piercers with close to, or over a decade of, professional experience. This means that the data comes from a place of knowledge.

We can agree that there are not enough high quality apprenticeships to go around!

This is where it gets interesting. Of the respondants, over 3/4 believe that there are not currently enough high-quality piercers offering apprenticeships to train the next generation. So… Why is that? The following questions were designed to ask why particular piercers, even those with over a decade of experience, do not take on an apprentice.

Despite a resounding cry for high-quality apprentices, with over 75% of responses saying that not enough apprentices are being trained, only 8.7% are currently looking to take one on!

Interestingly, 20% of the piercers who responded stated they would never take on an apprentice. The majority were planning on taking an apprentice sometime in the future – Within 5 years. This is really heartening to know! Even if the current climate is difficult, there is still hope for the future.

This is where it gets interesting. We asked why piercers weren’t taking on an apprentice, and the results were surprising! Very few simply didn’t fancy taking on an apprentice. Most were interested in taking on an apprentice in the future, however due to personal, experience, or financial reasons were unable to.

Some of the responses were:

  • “There currently isn’t enough work for us to justify taking on another piercer – plus, training can be super exhausting.”
  • “I hate 99% of people and couldnt imagine working with anyone.”
  • “We only train piercers when we are looking for new staff and can offer a job at the end of the apprenticeship. I think there’s too many people willing to train up people and then they’re left with no career at the end of it.”
  • “I don’t have enough of a consistent work load to be able to offer a full time position to someone once they have completed an apprenticeship. I could really use a second piercer for a few months of the year when it is the busy summer season but other than that my workload is really slow paced. I don’t think it would be fair of me to take on an apprentice for a few years then not have work for them to be able to support themselves at the end of it. It wouldn’t really be financially viable for me either.”
  • “My Studio isn’t up to standard.”

These are all really valid reasons not to take on a piercer. As much as we stress researching your potential mentor and making sure they are experienced enough to teach you, its also really important to remember that piercers are only human. Piercing is a business. Taking on an apprentice is often a huge financial risk, and to do so ethically requires a lot of forethought and financial planning.

Employment and business structure is a huge reason why many piercers don’t take on an apprentice. Of over 100 piercers, almost half are employed by another person. This means that frequently the decision to take on an apprentice is out of their hands. Even if they wanted to take on an apprentice, their boss may choose not to for a number of reasons.

And again on the other hand, if a piercer is self-employed, they may struggle to finance a piercing apprenticeship. Especially in the current economic climate, many self-employed folks are feeling the squeeze. They are not paid a set wage each month, rather are often paid a proportion of any turnover. Splitting that money with another person may not be financially viable. Even if an apprenticeship is unpaid, many apprentices will still cost the business money in one way or another.

Something that came up a lot in this questionnaire, and in further dialogue with individual piercers, is the concept of ‘The Blind Leading the Blind.’ Given the boom in piercing over the last few years, many people joined the industry in a short space of time. A huge proportion of would-be mentors are still in the infancy of their careers themselves, and are passing down their bad education or bad habits without even knowing it. In addition to this, younger piercers are less likely to have the experience and skill to teach the vital ‘unusual’ piercings, like genital work, large-gauge piercings, and surface piercings. This means that over time, these skills can very easily be lost and die out. We are already experiencing this as it is!

Something to consider as well is the Dunning-Kruger effect. In our experience, younger piercers are more likely to consider themselves ready to teach well before they are ready because they simply don’t know what they don’t know yet. This is why we recommend considering both the portfolio of your potential mentor and the years they have served. A healthy mix of both is ideal. The majority of responses to the questionnaires recommended a mentor should have at least 4-10 years of experience before taking on an apprentice. Here at Rogue, we sit in the decade club where we believe that a solid 10 years of piercing experience makes for a much better educator. Mature piercers will often have travelled and attended conferences, and have excellent links within the industry. It’s often not what you know, but who you know that can allow your career to take off!

Final Thoughts from the Piercers

Here we choose to share some of the thoughts of the piercers interviewed, in order for you to see exactly what they are thinking when they think of a piercing apprenticeship.

  • “I feel it (whether they take an apprentice on or not) depends how the piercing apprenticeship is approached. I had never considered teaching someone. My soon-to-be apprentice has been working with us for 2 years as Saturday help & Receptionist. She has always wanted to learn and we became friends over the past couple of years and so I started to consider helping her. She will continue to work in the studio to earn a wage. To start with I will be training her out of hours meaning she won’t be paid but neither will I. It’s all about both putting in the time. Once she starts piercing, however long that may take I would offer her a portion of the total. We will then continue on from there to ensure that she is well looked after and gets every bit of experience she needs of the next few years.”

  • “I wish more reputable piercers were taking apprentices. We are lacking a quantity of reputable piercers, my studio is currently looking for one but we haven’t found anyone just yet who fits our criteria but quite a lot of half trained people who either had poor, unfinished apprenticeships or they did a piercing course.”

  • “Safe and ethical apprenticeships are key, and not every apprenticeship is effective or healthy. After meeting an apprentice at another studio near me, it feels important to bring up that there are apprentices in some studios that have fulfilled their training requirements in unpaid positions, who are manipulated into thinking that they still must work for free. Apprenticeships are the most effective way for someone to learn our trade and it is unfortunate that some abusers use the dynamic of piercing apprenticeship to lure and trap their victims.”

  • The biggest issue I see here in our industry is that being a good piercer does not make you a good teacher or mentor (same with business ownership). All too often I see these roles interchangeable – where they are each in their own right, different skillsets. I’m not about gatekeepers whatsoever and am a firm believer in paying it forward, it does however need to make good financial sense for a studio but also the potential mentor needs to have good training skills (as well of course as being a good piercer). The other issue I see a lot of is students teaching students – basic fundamentals that mentors don’t have down, yet are passing these gaps in knowledge down to the newer generation.”

Piercing Apprenticeship Conclusions

That’s a tonne of data and industry information! We genuinely believe that there is hope for the piercing industry if we just pull ourselves together and take the jump. Taking on an apprentice is often terrifying, both for the mentor and learner. It’s a big commitment for everyone involved, and there is no way to predict the outcome. A mentorship is based on mutual trust, respect, and often deep friendship. Having an apprentice can feel sometimes like adopting a child! Not only does your mentor shape your piercing skills, but they will shape your attitude and relationship with the industry. Your mentors reputation can often follow you for the lifetime of your career.

So, what do piercers want would-be apprentices to know? I think the main takeaway is that piercers are human beings. We are just as prone to bias, issues and mistakes as the rest of the population. It’s very easy to see piercers on social media as ultra-cool aliens or internet personalities, but at the end of the day we run small businesses and are often sleep deprived and stressed!

The number one thing that we need to stress is this: We get dozens of messages and emails a week from would-be apprentices asking if we are taking on an apprentice and if they can come and do a piercing apprenticeship with us. Sometimes these emails are really polite, sometimes they are straight-up demanding! Especially if you have read through this blog, you will understand how much we care about our industry and how high-stakes taking on an apprentice is. The number one way to get blacklisted by a studio is to send unwarranted, demanding messages asking for an apprenticeship. No high quality studio will take on an apprentice via DM. We need to know you as a person! You can read more about apprenticeships on our dedicated ‘Apprenticeships’ blog category. The blog ‘So You Want To Be a Piercer?’ will also make for great reading. We aren’t saying that you have to come and get pierced every week for three years, or spend £xxxx amount of money with us to ‘earn’ your apprenticeship, but building a relationship with a studio is key. It often can’t be forced, either. You can’t push a friendship and expect an piercing apprenticeship to fall out the other end, y’know? Body piercing is often seen as a ‘casual’ industry, where you don’t need to follow the standard rules of employment. What other industry would you expect to enter via DM? The general opinion is that people who DM studios for apprenticeships are not taking it seriously, and don’t have the professionalism to make it in the industry. Don’t fall foul of this social faux pas.

If you have had a response from a studio when you’ve cold-messaged them on instagram, take a moment to consider what kind of situation you might be putting yourself into. You don’t know them, they don’t know you. Oftentimes they will just be looking for a couple of months of free labour and you will leave with nothing.

So there you have it! Some more thoughts on the piercing apprenticeship, backed up with some decent data. If you’d like to read more on the subject, we have plenty of blogs covering all kinds of topics so just hit the link above to go have a deep dive! If you have any questions, you’re welcome to drop us an email. Make sure to follow us on instagram! And final reminder…

We are not currently looking to take on an apprentice at Rogue. Please do not contact us to ask for one!

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Piercing Apprenticeship QnA

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.

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So, you want a career in piercing?

Something we hear commonly as part of our monthly QnAs, in countless emails and in the studio, is “I want to be a piercer, what tips can you give me to become a piercing apprentice?”

It’s no secret that piercing (high quality piercing, at least) is incredibly competitive to get into, and it feels almost impossible to find the right studio at the right time. So, what can you do to improve your chances?

Joining a studio is a little bit like joining a family, as weird as it sounds!

Take it slow.

A good apprenticeship is worth its weight in gold. A bad apprenticeship or piercing course will usually haunt the rest of your career both in your reputation and in bad habits. It might be frustrating, but waiting for a quality apprenticeship is the single most important thing you can do for your career. Rushing into an apprenticeship under an inexperienced mentor or taking a piercing course will do more harm than good in the long run. We go more in-depth into this in our other apprenticeship blog post.

Some piercing apprentices fall into their role by being in the right place at the right time – Luck plays far more of a part than most people would like to admit! However for those who don’t fall into this category, it can take months or even years before they find their apprenticeship. Don’t be discouraged, but do have a backup plan in case piercing ends up not working out for you.

Think about the why.

The first thing any mentor will ask you is well, why do you want to be a piercer? Is it because you have a flair for the technical? Because you enjoy working with the public? Because you just love piercings? It’s a difficult question to answer fully, but something you really need to find a good personal answer for. Everyone’s ‘why’ is different.

Unfortunately simply having a love for piercings won’t carry you very far when you’re bagging your 400th piece of presterile jewellery of the day, or when you are processing the tools after a long day, or when you’re exhausted and dealing with a difficult customer. Piercing is a very emotionally taxing career, and burnout is common. We always aim to be realistic when discussing the piercing industry and piercing careers, so it’s important to know that you will be tired, your back will hurt all the time, and you will be poor forever!

Another solid question to ask yourself is: ‘Would I still be happy being a piercer if overnight it stopped being seen as cool?

Things that will carry you through are a passion for perfection, for practising fine skills, continuous improvement both inside and outside the studio, public education, or for simply becoming a better piercer than your mentor. A passion for the history of piercing is immensely valuable. 

A good candidate for an apprenticeship aims to raise standards whilst also being empathetic and realistic to people’s situations. We can’t teach kindness and empathy, even though they are the foundation of the industry. 

Mr Sebastian should be a name you recognise!

Be Respectful.

I think most high-quality studios will agree with me when I say that we get dozens of emails, DMs and walk-ins either querying us about or asking for apprenticeships. We really appreciate being top of the list when it comes to education, however it can be quite emotionally taxing especially when the answer at the moment is generally no. The industry is overloaded, oversaturated, and most studios are either swamped or still recovering from Covid. 

The main thing we want you to keep in mind when asking about apprenticeships is to not take it to heart if the first, second, heck even tenth request for an apprenticeship is declined. If your piercer says no, make sure you respect that decision. 

It’s an unfortunate truth that most hopeful apprentices will not make it into the industry – For every 100 applicants (each equally passionate, prepared, intelligent and thoughtful!), only one will probably be successful. It’s important to be realistic, and to have a backup plan.

Be Educated

Even though you are applying for an education in becoming a piercing apprentice, it does not hurt to have an awareness of current piercing knowledge, jewellery brands etc. You are not expected to know technique (it is actually preferred that you don’t!) but knowing who Anatometal, Jim Ward, BVLA or Mr Sebastian are is a fantastic start. You can also ask your potential mentor for recommended reading, or tales from the earlier days of piercing. Knowing where we’ve come from is a great way to understand why we are where we are, and to help predict where the industry is going.

Outside of piercing related knowledge, working similar jobs in retail can really prepare you for the everyday reality of working in a piercing studio. It might not feel like it, but piercing is often a retail and aesthetic procedure all rolled into one! This helps you to hone your general customer service skills which is absolutely vital for this industry.

Piercers are not just piercers, often they are self-employed small business owners and have to deal with all the headaches and heartaches that come with that. Learning about how to run a business, how to file taxes, how to organise your schedule and price your services are all super important. 

As a general rule, piercing yourself or your friends at home in preparation for a piercing apprenticeship is one of the biggest no-no’s ever. Never pierce at home

What are They Looking For?

A good tip for success is to look at your prospective studio and try and see what they would look for in a potential piercing apprentice. Each studio is very different – Some have punk roots (like Rogue!), some come from new-age beliefs, some are more commercialised, some are very ‘British’ and some more international. Part of being a successful piercing apprentice applicant is being the right person for the right studio. Is there any point in applying to a punk studio if you are more into pink and sparkles? Yes! Jay is a great example of an apprentice working well in a seemingly opposite studio. That being said, finding a studio that aligns with who you are as a person is really important. Not every studio is perfect for every applicant. 

In terms of what most studios are looking for in an piercing apprentice, it varies from studio to studio however there are some universal requirements. Piercing is based on human interaction, so being shy or being afraid of phone calls is not ideal! As piercers we need to be energetic, confident, and be able to be the loudest person in the room. It’s all about making connections – Whether the customer is 8 or 80. Even if that’s not who you are right now, it is a skill that can be practised! Public speaking is a really good way of getting into the habits that will pay dividends once you become a piercer.

Be Honest.

My final piece of advice is to be honest and open about your intentions about being a piercing apprentice. Most piercers can tell if you are on the hunt for an apprenticeship, so why not be up front and tell us? We really appreciate being asked, and will usually be able to give you a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with an explanation for each response. Sometimes a no will become a yes given time, so always ask if this is something that might happen. We will always endeavour to be honest with you. Being straight up about your intentions will go a long way – Even if it’s a solid no, it means you can cut your losses and focus on other studios or piercers. We can often give recommendations on where to go as piercing is a very small world!

Being a piercer is not the only way to make it in the industry!

Counterstaff are Not a Second Choice!

We commonly get asked by would-be piercers if they can have a desk job as a stepping stone into getting a ‘proper apprenticeship.’ Obviously from a personal standpoint this can be quite frustrating to hear, as counterstaff positions are their own completely seperate career path and shouldn’t be seen as something you settle for in the meantime. It’s akin to asking a doctor if you can be a nurse ‘in the meantime’ while you wait to get into medical school! It’s a seperate career that deserves to be respected!

Another thing to note, which I obviously have a strong view of, is that being a piercer is not the only way to be successful in this industry! Counter staff, managers, piercing educators etc. are all absolutely vital, and the industry simply cannot function without them. A good counter staff or jewellery manager is worth their weight in Gold (literally!) We deserve to be taken seriously as a career in our own right, and not simply viewed as an easy way to become a piercer later. Gone are the days of a ‘desk lady!’ We are oversaturated with many a would-be piercing apprentice, yet there is an industry shortage of excellent counter staff and jewellery salespeople. It’s definitely something to consider if you haven’t considered it before.

So there you have it! A high-quality studios thoughts on piercing apprenticeship tips. This will become a series, as we are currently working on an apprenticeship FAQ. If you have any questions you would like answered, contact us on instagram or email us as you may be featured in our next blog post.


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Why Does a Piercing Apprenticeship Take So Long?

Today we’ll be discussing why apprenticeships take so long and why you shouldn’t pay for online or in-person piercing schools. A full, comprehensive piercing apprenticeship lasts 2-3 years. In this blog we delve into why that’s the case, and why you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

What is an Piercing Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is the best way to learn to pierce. During an apprenticeship, you will be trained by an experienced older piercer in all aspects of safety and technique. Choosing your mentor is a big decision as their experience and reputation will follow you into your professional career. Make sure your mentor is qualified, experienced and a respected member of the industry. For Aiden’s rundown of piercing education, click here.

Aiden has been working in this industry for over 10 years, and was a founding board member of the UKAPP. This is the kind of experienced mentor you should be looking for! (However we might be a little bit biased.)

What do you Learn during a Piercing Apprenticeship?

In short, you learn an awful lot!

You will first learn all the safety aspects of piercing: Bloodborne pathogens training, cross-contamination, how to clean and sterilise jewellery, how to safely reprocess tools, which chemicals to clean your station and clients with, and the correct use of a sterile field including sterilised gloves, needles, tools and jewellery. This first stage prepares you to confidently handle a clean environment and prevent infection of yourself and your clients with harmful pathogens. 

The second stage would be learning to handle your clients, organise your day, organise jewellery orders and keep up to date with the financial side of piercing. You will need to know how to take bookings, organise your finances, handle your clients from the moment they step in the door and how to keep a polite and respectful environment to work in. Most piercers work alone or in small studios, so it is important that you know how to be self-employed and confidently run your business. It’s vital that we take care to teach our apprentices everything there is to know, and how to become a good piercer.  Not only this but it is vital that we teach our apprentices about the history of the industry and where we come from. If we don’t pass on the knowledge of Jim Ward, Fakir Musafar, Mr Sebastian and all the founding greats then we are at risk of losing our history altogether.

The third stage of a piercing apprenticeship is the piercing itself. You will be taught how to prep your clients skin, how to open and handle your sterilised gloves, how to approach your client and how to correctly pierce them. You will be taught which jewellery is appropriate for which piercings, how to safely fit them and how to manage your clients when they come in for their checkups and downsizes. Learning to pierce straight, at the correct depth, angle and with your clients anatomy in mind is hugely important for a successful piercing and an uneventful heal for your client. You will be taught to pierce and master a few basic piercings such as conches, helixes and lobes before moving on to more complex piercings. This can take months of work and practice!

Finally, once you have shown you are adept at all piercings and can work cleanly and safely, you will fledge and become a junior piercer. It may take upwards of two years to get to this point. Yes, upwards of two years! There is so much more to piercing than simply pushing a needle through a client and taking their money.

In addition to piercing ears and noses, to be a solid piercer you do have to consider piercings other areas. Intimate piercings are an important part of what we do and if we don’t pass on the knowledge of how they should be pierced, then we risk letting intimate piercing die out in the UK. Being taught to be an ‘ear piercer’ only is a dissatisfying apprenticeship.

Why You Should Never Attend a Piercing School

At Rogue we have seen many piercing schools come and go, but we are yet to see a single school provide a course that gives its learners an acceptable skill level to begin piercing. There are far too many piercing schools or other people who feel that they can teach piercing but they simply do not grasp the scope and depth of knowledge that must be learnt.

Piercing Schools are not the way to go. Don’t fall into the trap!

The average piercing school course in the UK lasts 6 days. 6 days! 6 days is not enough time to learn the basics of hygiene, nevermind become a fully fledged and skilled piercer! There is no way that you will become a confident, adept and knowledgeable piercer with only 40 hours of training. Often these schools are teaching outdated techniques and training you to use low-quality jewellery. As a learner, you may not even realise you are being taught dangerous techniques until it is too late.

Apprenticeships are usually unpaid and usually free of charge. You should not be attending a piercing school that costs thousands of pounds to end up with a ‘qualification’ that actually devalues you in the eyes of the piercing industry. Most high-end piercing studios will reject applications for work or apprenticeships from someone who has taken a piercing course. Some piercing schools claim that a short 2 day course is enough to prepare you for an apprenticeship, but this simply isn’t true. A good studio will think twice about taking you on as an apprentice as they will have to sink time into retraining you out of bad and potentially dangerous habits. It’s simply not worth it.

So How Do I Get An Apprenticeship?

We understand that apprenticeships are rare and incredibly competitive to get. It’s like applying to a university that doesn’t tell you what A levels or grades you need! However, you should not get discouraged from trying to enter the piercing industry. 

In order to secure an piercing apprenticeship, you must first find a piercing studio that is qualified to give you the valuable education that you need. The best way to do this is to find your local APP or UKAPP member studio. This proves that they are working to a high standard of safety and do not compromise their clients safety in order to increase their profits. Some studios are not members and yet exceed the standards set by the UKAPP, so do your own research if you cannot find an APP studio. An piercing apprenticeship from a low quality studio that is not willing to teach you to be a high quality piercer is no apprenticeship at all. Be careful of studios that simply want unpaid labour!

Once you have found a studio, it is important that you attend the studio and get pierced by them regularly. Studios are often overwhelmed by apprenticeship requests, often from total strangers, so it is important that you become a recognised and valuable client first. If you have the funds, purchasing high-end jewellery and showing you appreciate high-quality items is a very good way to set yourself above the competition. Becoming a known client is good in that even if that particular studio doesn’t take you on as an apprentice, they can often recommend you as an apprentice to a studio who is looking to take someone on. At this stage you should also be familiarising yourself with high-quality jewellery. Read up on internal threading or threadless jewellery and why external thread is dangerous. Learn about ASTM regulations and why ASTM F-136 Titanium is the safest metal! Find out why sterling silver is not a safe material, and why jewellery must be a certain gauge or thickness in order to be safe. If you really want to impress, memorise the conversions between gauges and inches and metric millimeters!

From becoming a valued client, the next step is to offer your services. This is not a guarantee of an apprenticeship! You can simply ask the piercer if you can help clean up at the end of the day, answer the phone and generally make yourself useful. Quite often as piercers work solo, they will appreciate your offer!

From here, you can ask about an apprenticeship. Taking on an apprentice is a huge financial burden to a studio as you often cost them more money than you make. It’s a big decision to make and your studio may have to think about it. If they offer you an apprenticeship- Congratulations! You are taking the first step to becoming a piercer. If they refuse your offer, don’t panic. They may not be in a position to offer one to you now, but they may reconsider in the future. If not, you can always ask them if they would recommend you to another studio who can take you on. 

As an aside, piercing is a very hard job both physically and mentally. Yes, you can look however you want and be the person you want to be but only to a point. Even within piercings there are limits to how extreme you can look and still maintain a strong client base. Piercing is a fairly unstable job, and the pandemic has only made this more obvious. You don’t become a piercer if you want to be rich! Piercing is also a hugely demanding full time job and a lifestyle. Burnout is very real and mental health issues are a topic of constant conversation within piercing. Make sure you are certain that you want this life before delving into an apprenticeship.

So there you have it! A pretty comprehensive review of what a piercing apprenticeship looks like, and why you should not fall into the trap of piercing schools and courses. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and we will see you again next Friday for a new blog!