Covid 19 has quickly derailed my life and dug up older dreams and ideas. I grew up around aviation, my dad flew a Learjet 45 for a great company. I flew in several small aircrafts from small runways. I have a great time in airplanes, every time. I wanted to get my license as soon as I could growing up, but I never made it happen.
I am a professional tattoo artist. I am heavily tattooed. I have tattoos I cannot cover if the company requires it. How does my future look? My father thinks I can find a position flying freight. I want to believe that I won’t be turned away before I even have a chance, but am aware of subtle reservations many people carry about tattooed people.
Thank you for any insight, I’d love to hear back.
Nothing comes to mind. Your father said cargo because he thought boxes wouldn’t care? Or did he know of any specific cargo companies? Personal reservations aside every company has a tattoo policy. Best you start digging around these company’s to find out which ones are okay with tattoos that can’t be covered by the uniform. You’d really be limiting your options if you decide to keep the ones that can’t be covered. I have a feeling it’s going to come down to deciding what you love more. Just remember, you can keep the tattoos that can be covered.
That’s a tough one. From what I understand neither FedEx nor UPS have written policies against tattoos. Problem is EVERY other MAJOR airline in the country does. That poses 3 problems. First you’re putting all your eggs in a very small basket of airlines you can work and neither is easy to get on with.
Second most of the newhires for both come from the Regionals all of whom also have tattoo policies so how will you build your time?
Finally while neither have a written tattoo policy, no airline likes to believe you’re there because you couldn’t get on anywhere else. I know a few FedEx pilots and they personally don’t like that there’s no formal policy and it’s “enforced” via peer pressure. From what I understand anyone with “sleeves” keeps them covered year round. Should you show up for an interview and one of these is on your panel there’s a good chance you’ll have an issue.
If you have tattoos that cannot be covered, such as on your face, neck, or hands, I think you will find it very difficult to find a job as a pilot. It just isn’t the look that most companies want to see in their pilots.
I am not a pilot, nor in training, but I figured that my information may be of value to you. I reached out to a few regional airlines directly about their tattoo policies and the only airline to get back to me was PSA. They said that they do not have a tattoo policy. I do not have any tattoos, I was just curious. Again, I am in not in the industry and I and I have no way of telling you for certain what other airline policies are. I suggest reaching out to as many as you can directly. Hope this was helpful.
Thank you Tory!
My dad never gave specifics when we talked about what type of companies he thought would be okay with tattoos.
After seeing several responses I think it’s best that I pursue a pilot’s license, fall in love with flying, or don’t, and see if a career in aviation is still something I am looking for.
My tattoos aren’t going anywhere, and just like I fell into tattooing professionally from meeting the right folk, I might meet the right people to direct me further.
Thank you Chris!
I’ve definitely never seen anyone who likes like me in a cockpit, and my dads coworkers give me some funny looks too.
I appreciate your quick, honest reply.
Thank you Adam this was thorough.
I have much more homework to do, but I think my plan is to pursue a pilot’s license and see where it takes me. I’m calling around trying to get some answers and not coming up with much!
I am not sure what else you have going on, but just a heads up that piercings and facial hair are also prohibited.
I don’t agree with your analogy. You say that meeting the right people lead you to becoming a tattoo artist. I get that. Being a tattoo artist opens you up to the entire world or tattooing. However, being a pilot with exposed tattoos will not open the entire world of professional flying like being a tattoo artist did. It will only open a few doors. The odds of you being able to navigate through that narrow window are slim to none. I don’t say that to challenge you. Prove me wrong if you want. I’m just being honest. You would be heading down a very expensive road with no guarantee that you will recoup your investment (as we all do). The difference is that you’re already putting yourself at a disadvantage because of some ink. I would much rather you accept that your tattoos don’t define your identity and remove the ones that can’t be concealed, but I sense that you disagree with me on that.
Here’s my two cents- I’ll be starting at ATP in a couple of months and I have a few tattoos. I also plan on getting more. I’ve done a bit of research on this topic because I want to make sure I’m in compliance with airline policies without having to go to extreme lengths to cover up, etc.
All of my tattoos except one (neck) are covered up by regular clothing. I’m getting the one on my neck lasered off because the vast majority of airlines have a strict no visible tattoo policy. From my understanding, it isn’t uncommon at all for pilots to have tattoos, they’re just covered up by the uniform.
While there may be a few airlines that allow tattoos, you’d be greatly limiting yourself, and even still are more than likely at a disadvantage when you walk into an interview heavily tattooed. My recommendation would be to laser off the tattoos that can’t be covered by a uniform if you’re serious about pursuing aviation. It sucks, especially if you love your ink, but you have to decide what’s more important. I’ve been working on the design for a full sleeve for years and am modifying it to a half-sleeve because I live in a hot climate and don’t want to be forced to be covered up by a long sleeved shirt at all times. Am I bummed out about it? Yeah. But again, it’s a small price to pay if you’re set on being a pilot!
Best of luck.