How Do I Become A Nail Technician?

Nail technicians are also called manicurists or pedicurists and focus on maintaining and beautifying the nails of the hands and feet. While manicurists were restricted to beauty salons in the past, today entire nail salons have sprung up that offer “spa pedicures,” acrylic nails, and many other options for both men and women who want clean, shapely, beautiful fingernails and toenails.

Nail technicians must be licensed to work in a nail salon and if you are considering this career path, there are some things you should know.

What Do Nail Technicians Do?

Nail technicians work with both fingernails and toenails to clean and enhance them with polish, acrylic overlays, and other artistic forms of beautification. This industry has exploded over the past few years as more people become interested in personal appearance. While the industry was once limited primarily to women both in employees and customers, many men are finding the benefits of a spa pedicure or manicure worth the extra cost and also finding rewarding work in the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a 17 percent growth in the number of nail technician jobs over the course of the next decade with an median income of $19,650 per year.*

What Type of Education Is Required for Nail Technicians?

Although earnings for nail technicians fall below the national average for all jobs, the amount of training required for a nail technician is relatively limited, making this field a good education investment for the return you get.

Nail technicians are required to be licensed in all states, and in order to get a license you must have a certificate from an approved nail technician program. Many vocational or technical schools offer these certificate programs, and some can be completed in as little as two months. Six months is the average amount of time required to obtain a nail technician certificate. For admission to a vocational school, you must have either a high school diploma or a GED; some vocational schools also offer dual-option programs that allow high school students to take some of their classes at the vocational school.

Before you enter a nail technical program, you should decide if you want to pursue only nail technician certification or include it as part of a larger cosmetology program. Many cosmetology students choose to add nail technician certification to their cosmetology degrees to make themselves more employable.

Assuming that you choose the nail technician path, you should be careful to choose a cosmetology school that is accredited by your state’s health board and educational governing entity. You can find out about your school’s accreditation by contacting your state Department of Education. Never spend money on a nail technician program that is not accredited, as this program will probably not prepare you for the state licensing exam.

Nail technicians take classes in various types of manicure and pedicure techniques, such as gel wraps, acrylic nail application, and oil- and water-based manicures and pedicures. Nail technicians may also receive additional training in optional topics such as hair removal. All students are required to take classes in health and safety in order to be sure they understand how to prevent infections and other problems associated with working on nails. Most nail technician programs also offer classes in client interactions to help nail technicians learn to deal with customers on a personal level.

How Do I Get A Nail Technician License?

Once you have successfully completed your nail technician training program, you can apply for a license through your state’s board which is often a subsidiary of the state health department. Most states require nail technicians to pass both a written and practical examination in order to be licensed. The written portion of the exam deals with questions on health and safety, while the practical portion allows applicants to demonstrate their technical skill in working with customers.

Once the nail technician acquires a license, he or she can seek work in a variety of locations. Barber shops, beauty salons, and nail salons all hire nail technicians. Some spas also offer services that require a qualified nail technician, and these jobs may be located in exotic locations, providing a great opportunity for nail technicians to travel. No matter where you decide to work, you will be enjoying a great deal of interaction with a variety of clients and providing a service that makes people feel good about themselves.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

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