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Become a Certified Nail Technician: Certification and Career Info

Learn how to become a certified nail technician. Research the education and career requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career as a nail technician. View article »

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  • 0:01 Should I Became a Nail…
  • 1:27 Step 1: Complete a Program
  • 2:08 Step 2: Obtain Licensure
  • 2:57 Step 3: Continuing Education
  • 3:37 Step 4: Career Advancement

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Nail Technician?

Nail technicians work in spas, nail salons and cosmetology centers to beautify and shape clients' nails. In addition to manicures and pedicures, nail technicians may also provide such services as hand and foot massages. Manicure and pedicure services involve cutting, shaping, polishing and painting nails. A great deal of sitting is involved, and masks and gloves must often be worn while working with chemicals. No degree is required to become a nail technician, but a certificate from a cosmetology school is. State licensure is also necessary to work in the field.

Nail technicians need to have strong communication skills, dexterity, the ability to sell nail care products and time management skills. They also need to be familiar with nail care tools, such as nail files, cuticle cutters and nail clippers, and know about special equipment used to make custom nail art or complete nail services such as French manicures. Most employers look for candidates with a neat and clean appearance who have the ability to maintain a hygienic work space and work schedule flexibility.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, the median hourly wage for manicurists and pedicurists was $10.01 an hour

Step 1: Complete a Program

The first step toward becoming a nail technician is to complete a nail technician program. Although it isn't always required, a number of nail technician programs require applicants to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Nail technician programs are available within cosmetology schools and prepare graduates for state licensure. These programs combine both academic and practical training in the field. Students learn about nail care applications, infectious control and customer service. The practical training not only gives students experience in the field, but also provides them with the skills necessary to create art on nails. Programs typically meet the minimum state clock hours needed for licensure.

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Step 2: Obtain Licensure

After completing a program, nail technicians need to become licensed. The specific eligibility requirements for licensure vary by state. For example, Kentucky requires nail technicians to have 600 clock hours, while Florida mandates 240 hours. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that cosmetology applicants need to be at least 16 years old and be high school graduates, but prospective nail technicians should check with their state board of cosmetology for specific details. Each state requires that nail technicians pass a written and practical exam to obtain licensure. The written portion may include subjects in health and safety, nail technology and nail care. In the clinical portion, an individual may be required to demonstrate how to perform a manicure and additional nail treatments.

Step 3: Continuing Education

To maintain licensure, nail technicians need to apply for renewal. The number of continuing education hours and the expiration period varies by state. Many states' licenses expire annually or every two years. Continuing education classes for manicurists or nail technicians may cover such topics as health and sanitation, state laws or advanced nail techniques. Many independent continuing education companies and cosmetology schools offer continuing education online. Students should be sure to research the validity of these organizations before enrolling. Many states have an approved educator list to reference.

Step 4: Career Advancement

Some nail technicians continue their education in the personal appearance industry by going on to become cosmetologists or estheticians. Doing so requires completing additional education through a trade school or community college and then obtaining state licensure. Another option would be for a nail technician to eventually open his or her own nail care business.

Nail technicians need to complete a training program at a cosmetology school in order to be eligible for state licensure. Continuing education classes are needed to renew licensure on a regular basis.

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