How Do I Become a Manicurist?

Research what it takes to become a manicurist. Learn about job duties, education requirements, licensure and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Manicurist?

Manicurists offer cosmetic nail care to their clients, often after completing a related certificate program. They clean, cut and form nails, and sometimes decorate them with decals or nail polish. They discuss treatments for conditions like calluses and may promote products. They're responsible for keeping their equipment and area clean. If they operate their own business, they must handle budgeting and manage staff. If you'd like to learn more about requirements for this career field, take a look at the table below:

Education Required Completion of a state-approved certificate program
Key Responsibilities Consult with clients, clean and shape fingernails, apply polish or nail art
Licensure Required in most states
Job Growth (2018-2028) 10% (for manicurists and pedicurists)*
Median Salary (2018) $24,330 (for manicurists and pedicurists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties of a Manicurist

As a manicurist, you'll be responsible for providing cosmetic nail care to clients. You may find work in a nail salon or beauty salon. When customers come in to have their nails done, you'll sit them down at a prepared station and ask them what exactly they'd like out of their manicures. You'll clean and shape their fingernails with specialized tools and equipment. You'll then sand out the roughness of their fingernails and file them down. If clients request it, you'll also apply polish or decorations on top of clean nails.

Education and Training

Community colleges, for-profit beauty schools and technical schools offer certificate programs for aspiring manicurists and nail technicians. A nail technician certificate program will provide you with theoretical instruction and practical training in nail care. You'll learn the basics of nail care safety, sanitation, nail and skin disorders, bacteriology and anatomy.

Some certificate programs also include courses related to salon management and bookkeeping. While completing clinical training, you'll be expected to practice the techniques for cleaning and filing nails, applying artificial nails, using manicurist products and applying nail art.

Licensure Requirements

Manicurists are required to gain licensure before they can legally begin working in most states. Each state has its own licensure requirements for manicurists. Most require you to be at least 16 years of age and to have a certificate from a state-approved cosmetology school. They also require you to complete a licensing examination before you can work as a manicurist.

Employment and Earnings Information

Manicurists and pedicurists held 110,170 jobs nationwide in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Their median salary during that year was $24,330. Most manicurists were employed in the personal care services industry. Other employers can include hotels and department stores. Among the top-paying states for the profession in 2018 were Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Iowa.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers include barbers, hairdressers and skincare specialists. Barbers and hairdressers groom and style hair and treat conditions like breakage. Skincare specialists cleanse and moisturize skin and the body and recommend treatments. Both careers require only 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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