How Can I Become a Nail Technician?

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

What Does a Nail Technician Do?

A nail technician specializes in providing beauty treatments for feet, hands, fingernails and toenails. Their duties include but are not limited to trimming and filing nails, removing calluses, and massaging hands and feet. Some may also be asked to sell or promote certain nail care products. A summary of career information is outlined in the table below.

Training Required Postsecondary nondegree award
Key Skills Customer service, communication, attention to detail, physical dexterity
Licensure Required in all states
Job Growth (2018-2028)10% (for all manicurists and pedicurists)*
Average Salary (2018) $25,860 (for all manicurists and pedicurists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Should I Study to Become a Nail Technician?

Several different educational paths can prepare you to become a professional nail technician. Some employers merely require you to have a high school diploma and will provide you with on-the-job training. Other employers will require you to complete a nail technician training program before seeking a job as a manicurist. Community colleges, technical colleges and beauty schools offer nail technician programs that lead to a certificate of completion. Make sure that the school you choose is an accredited or state-approved cosmetology school.

Training should provide you with knowledge about basic nail and cuticle health, nail disease recognition, nail products and nail treatments. You'll also learn about sanitation, cleanliness, sterilization, disinfection and safety procedures. Some programs also provide courses related to customer service skills, business management, finance, business law and scheduling. Such courses could prepare you to eventually open your own nail technician service.

Do I Need Licensure?

Every state in the country requires nail technicians and other cosmetologists to gain licensure before they can work legally. The requirements for gaining licensure vary from state to state, so you should check with your state board that regulates licensure before you set out to begin training as a nail technician. Many states require you to complete an approved nail technician training program and pass an examination before you can be fully licensed.

What Are the Job Duties and Outlook for This Career?

As a nail technician, your daily tasks include smoothing nails, buffing away dead skin, soaking hands, pushing back cuticles and cleaning tools. Whether you choose to apply nail extensions or work with the natural nails, you'll typically apply an undercoat of polish, polish and a nail hardener.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an increase of 10% in employment opportunities for manicurists and pedicurists between 2018 and 2028 ( This means the U.S. could see an addition of over 13,000 jobs in the industry. As of May 2018, manicurists and pedicurists made an average salary of $25,860. The five top-paying areas for this field were Minnesota, New Hampshire, Iowa, Idaho, and South Carolina.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

While many nail technicians end up owning their own salons, others use their skills to become skincare specialists. In this role they clean and beautify a person's face and body to enhance appearance. Others go on to become cosmetologists or hairdressers that provide hairstyling and other beauty services to clients. Most of these roles require a postsecondary nondegree award.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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