Can Pilots Have Tattoos?

Tattoos have seen a boom in recent years, and they can now be seen not just in the typical heavy industries.

Can Pilots Have Tattoos

However, the trend hasn’t reached the aviation industry yet, so what happens when you want to be a pilot and you have a tattoo?

We find out if pilots can have tattoos and other body art.

Can Pilots Have Tattoos?

The simple answer is no. Most airlines don’t allow their pilots to have tattoos.

Airlines are required to follow certain rules regarding pilot safety. One such rule states that no tattoo or body piercing should be visible when wearing a uniform.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and rules can vary depending on the airline and country.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has long prohibited pilots from having visible tattoos on their bodies.

But in recent years, some airlines have begun allowing pilots to keep small tattoos discreetly covered by clothing or under a cap.

Why Airlines Don’t Allow Tattoos?

There are several reasons why an airline might not allow its pilots to have tattoos. The most common reason for this is that tattoos are often considered offensive by other passengers.

Being a pilot is a job with significant responsibility with getting the plane and its passengers safely from one point to another.

Although a tattoo does not interfere with a pilot flying a plane safely, it can be perceived as unprofessional when a tattoo is visible.

Pilots are to be expected to wear a uniform, and with this, they are the representatives of an airline. This means that they need to look trustworthy and professional to the public.

Tattoos may jeopardize this image and, depending on the kind of tattoo, it may look unprofessional.

Although tattoos have become more and more popular in recent years, many people still find them offensive, so airlines usually are very careful when it comes to tattooed pilots.

What Should You Do If You Want To Become A Pilot?

If you don’t have a tattoo at the moment and you plan to become a pilot, then it’s best to carefully consider your tattoo.

While airlines may relax rules in the future, at the moment it’s best either not to get a tattoo, or a tattoo that is not visible when you wear a uniform.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) does warn future pilots about getting a tattoo, as it could decrease their chances of finding employment as a pilot.

What To Do If You Already Have A Tattoo?

There are a few options if you want to be a pilot and you already have a tattoo. Let’s take a look at what you can do.

Cover It Up

As you will be wearing a uniform on the job, chances are that you can cover your tattoo up. However, this depends on where it is.

If you can cover your tattoo with the standard shirt and pants, then it’s best not to mention it at all. Nobody will see it, so there is no offense done.

This is the best option for tattoos on your chest, back, and upper arms where a tattoo is never visible when you are flying.


Make-up isn’t just great for the face but it can help to cover your tattoo in more visible spots.

However, it does take time to apply and it can be a hassle, especially when you are in a hurry.

If you plan to be a pilot, and you have a visible, small tattoo that can be hidden, then be prepared to use makeup frequently.

Make sure that it matches your skin tone and it stays on even for your working day in the cockpit.

Consider Removing It

Another option is to remove your tattoo. If the tattoo stops you from landing your dream job as a pilot, then getting your tattoo removed might be the only option.

There are plenty of ways to remove a tattoo, and it’s a common thing to do nowadays. Removing a tattoo has also become less painful and much cheaper.

Bear in mind, tattoo removals aren’t always 100%, so sometimes a tattoo can leave a faint shadow even when it has been removed.

A skin clinic near you should be able to give you some advice on what you can expect with tattoo removal.

What Should You Do If You Can’t Cover Up A Tattoo?

Although the majority of people will have tattoos in areas that can be easily covered up, some tattoos may still stick out under a shirt.

What to do then? Of course, removing the tattoo is one option, but you may not want to do that for different reasons.

In these cases, you may want to consider how well you can cover it up. For example, if you have a tattoo on your forearm, then you may need to wear long sleeve shirts all the time.

It’s unlikely that an airline will hire a pilot who will always need to find ways to cover up his tattoo, so be prepared.

Will Airlines Relax Tattoo Rules In Future?

Pilots with tattoos are often told by their employers that they cannot fly because of their tattoo. This is something that happens quite often.

However, things are changing. The trend towards having more tattoos is growing, so it’s likely that in the future, airlines will allow pilots to have tattoos.

At the moment, however, it’s best to avoid getting any tattoos while working as a pilot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Pilots Have Piercings?

Similar to tattoos, pilots are not allowed to wear piercings. However, female pilots can wear earrings when they are on duty.

This rule applies to the main airlines. Some of the smaller airlines may have more relaxed rules when it comes to piercings and body art.

Can Pilots Wear Beards?

No, pilots cannot wear beards. This is not something that most airlines would accept, as they often have strict policies in place when it comes to staff appearance.

However, smaller airlines are more lenient and may allow their pilots to have beards or wear piercings.


Although at the moment pilots are not generally allowed to have visible tattoos, there is a trend towards body art becoming more acceptable.

And airlines will likely allow their pilots to wear tattoos, piercings, and a beard in the future.

Jacob Stern
Latest posts by Jacob Stern (see all)