What Does an Acrylic Nail Manicurist Do?

An acrylic nail manicurist applies and cares for acrylic nails. Acrylic nails are popular fake nails that the manicurist glues on to the client's real nails. They need to be sealed and buffed, they can be elaborately painted and decorated, and they need to be changed every couple of weeks. Manicurists typically have the skills to perform other nail services, but many acrylic nail manicurists will develop clientele relationships that result in primarily acrylic nail appointments. Schools offering Nail Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

A manicurist is trained in most aspects of nail care. It would be unusual for a manicurist to advertise as an 'acrylic nail specialist.' However, acrylic nails are a popular option for those who enjoy maintaining fresh-looking manicures and those who work in the food service industry, as acrylic nail paint is very difficult to chip. In addition to manicures, manicurists are able to do pedicures, paraffin treatments, and basic hand and foot skin care. The most successful manicurists have clientele who make nail appointments exclusively with them. Manicurists may work for a business or for themselves, renting space in which to work from a spa or salon.

Important Facts About Manicurists and Pedicurists

Key Skills Creativity, dexterity, customer-service, and business skills
Entry-level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
On-the-Job Training None required; professional programs cover all requisite training
Work Environment Spas, nail salons, hair salons

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties and Responsibilities

A manicurist will do the following with acrylic nails:

  • Help the client look at nail options and choose one. Acrylic nails can appear completely natural or come pre-decorated.
  • Clean the client's real nails very carefully and dry them. Water or dirt caught under the acrylic nail creates a breeding ground for nail fungus. The manicurist will clip the nails short but not too closely.
  • Apply the acrylic nails to the real nails with glue.
  • Clip, shape, and file the acrylic nails.
  • Seal them. This involves mixing liquid and powdered acrylic and painting the mixture on like nail polish. Buffing thoroughly forces the sealant into the gaps and pores of the acrylic nails, keeping water out and creating a great shine.
  • Decorate them. This may be as simple as applying a professionally perfect coat of polish in the client's chosen color. It may mean applying decals to each nail. Some nail artists paint intricate designs on the nails.
  • Instruct the client in their care. Acrylic nails can be broken down by household chemicals or snagged on things if the client is unused to long nails.
  • About two weeks later, soak the acrylic nails in acetone and remove them. The manicurist does not try to snap them off for fear of tearing the natural nail underneath.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of manicurists and pedicurists, including acrylic nail manicurists, is expected to grow by 13% between 2016 and 2026. The BLS also reported the mean annual salary earned by such specialists as $25,860 in May 2018.

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