Manicurist: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Manicurists work with cosmetologists, shampooers and other beauty care specialists to help their clients look and feel their best. A manicurist focuses on the fingernails and may work in a beauty salon or spa. Manicurists keep up to date on the latest fashions and innovations in the beauty care industry. Continue reading for details about this career field. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Becoming a manicurist requires completing a short certificate program and earning a state license to practice. The career may also be attractive because it is expected to be a high-growth field and because many individuals are self-employed.

Education Nail technician certificate leading to state cosmetology license
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (Manicurists and Pedicurists)
Median Salary (2017) $23,230 (Manicurists and Pedicurists)

What Do Manicurists Do?

As a manicurist, you would work with a variety of sharp tools, like nail clippers and cuticle clippers, as well as buffing tools. In addition, you would provide clients with educational information about nail care as well as sell products to promote healthy nails and skin.

Many manicurists work full time, but a large portion work part time and are required to work nights and weekends when spas and salons are busiest. Some manicurists own their own establishments, requiring them to do managerial duties. Manicurists' duties may include:

  • Cutting, shaping and polishing nails
  • Applying nail extensions
  • Soaking nails in special baths
  • Keeping records of inventory
  • Ordering supplies

What Job Prospects Can I Expect?

Job openings for manicurists are expected to grow faster than the national average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of manicurists is expected to grow 13% from 2016-2026. The growing popularity of beautification procedures and the growing number of full-time spas and salons will contribute to this growth, along with new nail procedures, like manicures at clients' homes and mini manicure sessions. Individuals looking to enter this field should find their prospects promising. Also listed by the BLS, as of 2016, 28% of manicurists and pedicurists were self-employed.

How Do I Become a Manicurist?

Manicurists must complete a nail technician or cosmetology training program, and in all states except Connecticut must earn a license to practice. When investigating potential programs of study, ensure that they prepare you for your state's licensing exams.

What Kind of Manicurist Programs are Available?

Several community and technical colleges offer nail technician certificate programs, which may last 13-16 weeks. Programs often have a series of nail technician classes that progressively teach you more advanced skills. These classes typically have classroom lectures as well as practical training components where you can work in a real salon. You can learn about manicuring procedures for real and artificial nails, nail products, safety and sanitation, nail disorders and salon laws. Programs may require you to supply your own kit of manicuring tools.

If you would like to advance in your career, you may consider earning a cosmetology certificate or associate degree. Classes in safety and sanitation as well as nail technology are included in the curriculum, but you'll also study esthetics, hairstyling and chemical cosmetic services. Programs often include an internship.

How Do I Obtain a License?

Licensing is offered through state cosmetology boards, but the requirements typically include graduation from an approved program and passage of written and practical exams. Some states require a specific number of work hours or apprenticeship hours before you can be licensed. You can find information about your state's requirements through the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology.

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