Choosing Your Piercer: Pennsylvania Edition

Trying to find a professional body piercer can seem like a difficult task, especially if you don’t know what to look for in a piercer and what to avoid. In Pennsylvania, it can be extra difficult, because no legislation exists that requires body piercers to have any formal education or training. That means that literally anyone can order needles and jewelry online and start offering body piercings. There is no piercing licensure in the state of Pennsylvania, and there are no regulations per the Department of Health. For all intents and purposes, Pennsylvania is basically the Wild West when it comes to body piercing. How can you, as a client, who is a qualified professional and who isn’t, then?

Fortunately, the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) can serve as a great tool when trying to find a good piercer. In addition to having a wealth of useful information available about “Picking Your Piercer,” the APP gives membership to piercers who meet a minimum standard for jewelry offerings, training, and environmental criteria. So, if a piercer is an APP member, there is a good likelihood that they are an experienced and qualified professional. Members generally display their membership certificates in their studio, and membership can also be verified through the APP’s Member Directory. That is not to say that there aren’t good piercers who do not hold membership, or that there aren’t bad piercers who do hold membership. The APP provides membership to piercers who uphold a minimum standard, it does not certify piercers or guarantee that they are skilled at what they do. It only means that they carry implant grade, quality jewelry and maintain a clean, aseptic environment. Whether a piercer you are considering is a member or not, take the time look over the APP’s checklist, which has been copied below for ease of reference, and take it with you when you visit their studio. Any professional body piercer worth their salt will be happy to answer any questions you have, show you their equipment, and walk you through their piercing process to ensure your comfort and confidence.


  • Piercer is well trained and has continuing education
  • Studio is clean and well organized
  • Autoclave, either front-loading or cassette-based
  • Regular spore tests available, all passed
  • All jewelry/tools sterilized in packages or autoclave cassette
  • Needles sterilized, NOT soaked in liquid
  • Sharps container mounted on wall
  • Aftercare instructions provided, reflect current industry standards
  • NO ear piercing guns
  • All jewelry is internally threaded/threadless, well-polished (NO external threads)
  • Age requirements
  • Portfolio/social media pictures look good, healed pics a bonus
  • A wide selection of jewelry to ensure the proper fit
  • I am treated with kindness and respect by the staff
  • The piercer provides me with detailed written aftercare instructions
  • Licenses/permits current (if applicable)
  • Bonus: APP Membership (membership means 3-10 are covered)

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