Nail Technician: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for nail technicians. Get the facts about training requirements, salary, job outlook and licensure to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Nail technicians perform manicures, pedicures and other beauty procedures to clients' fingernails and toenails. A summary of general career information is listed in the table below.

Training Required High school diploma; state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program
Key Skills Creativity, customer service, hand-eye coordination, physical dexterity
Licensure Required; requirements vary by state
Job Growth (2012-2022) 16%*
Median Salary (2013) $19,340*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Duties of a Nail Technician?

Nail technicians, also referred to as manicurists and pedicurists, work exclusively on their client's nails. Your duties generally include cleaning, polishing, cutting and shaping the nails. Other tasks include giving customers nail extensions and special footbaths with salts. Self-employment is common for personal appearance workers, and you may need to perform managerial duties, such as ordering inventory, hiring new workers and keeping business records. Additionally, many nail technicians have the flexibility to work part time or flexible hours.

What Is My Occupational Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of manicurists and pedicurists was expected to grow 16% between 2012 and 2022 ( This growth is faster than the average for all occupations, and can be attributed to an increasing number of full-service day spas and nail salons. Openings should be readily available for those interested in beauty salons, spas and medical offices. However, positions at higher paying salons are often difficult to obtain and are highly competitive. The middle 50 percent of manicurists and pedicurists earned between $17,810 and $23,720 in May 2013, according to the BLS.

What Education Do I Need?

Nail technicians are required to possess a high school diploma or GED in some states. Formal education greatly increases a candidate's chances for employment, and you may prefer a program that is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences ( These programs may take up to nine months, but typically take less time to complete and often combine training in becoming a nail technician with training as an esthetician or makeup application. Many state-licensed barber or cosmetology schools offer programs that award associate degrees to graduates. In addition to completion of an accredited program, you may need to take licensing examinations in most states to practice as a nail technician.

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