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Manicure and Pedicure Technician Career Overview

Manicure and pedicure technicians require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Manicure and pedicure technicians provide various nail care services to clients. They generally work in salons and spas and must possess good customer service skills. Technicians need to complete a state-approved training program and acquire licensure before practicing.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent and completion of nail technician program
Other Requirements State examination and license
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 16%*
Mean Annual Wage (2013) $21,790*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Overview

Manicure and pedicure technicians often work in salons and spas, performing a series of nail technology steps. They start by removing any existing polish from the nails and then prepare baths to soak the client's hands and feet. Scrub brushes, pumice stones and other tools are used to clean the hands and feet. Nail technicians treat the cuticles by softening and moisturizing them with oil and then pushing back or trimming them. Nail filing and clipping are also performed. Some manicure and pedicure technicians massage clients' hands and feet.

Clients often choose from a selection of nail polishes, which the nail technician uses to paint the nails. Nail technicians also perform specialty services, such as applying artificial nails or treatments, to help improve nail strength or deter nail biting. Nail decorations or airbrushing are also offered by some manicure and pedicure technicians.

Clients may seek advice from nail technicians regarding proper nail care or beneficial products to use. Some salons offer nail technicians incentives for selling nail care products. They may also set appointments, collect payment and keep inventory of nail care supplies. Maintaining their work areas and ensuring all equipment is clean and sanitized are a manicure and pedicure technician's responsibility.

Requirements

Manicure and pedicure technicians are required to obtain licensure from their state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require nail technicians to complete a state-approved training program (www.bls.gov). Additionally, many states and training programs mandate that applicants have a high school education.

Education

Nail technician programs are available at vocational schools and community colleges. Students can complete a training program that teaches nail technology only or obtain an associate's degree in cosmetology that teaches a broad range of beauty services, in addition to nail technology.

Nail Technician Programs

Nail technician programs are generally shorter than other beauty training programs. Students participate in classroom instruction and hands-on training. Some schools have student salons where they may work with actual clients to help them gain real world experience. Coursework typically includes bacteriology, nail and skin disorders, nail art, nail treatments, artificial nail application and repair, safety and sanitation, massage, nail design and business.

Cosmetology Programs

Cosmetology programs also teach nail technology skills, in addition to hair cutting, hair styling, skin care, makeup application, business and more. Students can earn an associate's degree or a certificate in cosmetology, and receive supervised hands-on experience.

Licensure

After completing a state-approved training program, nail technicians can apply to become licensed. They must pass an examination and may need to perform a practical test to prove their nail technology skills.

Salary and Outlook

In May 2013, manicure and pedicure technicians earned a mean annual salary of $21,790, according to the BLS. From 2012-2022, manicure and pedicure job opportunities were expected to grow by 16% due to nail salon and spa growth, reported the BLS. Entry-level positions should be fairly easy to attain, since there was a high turnover rate.

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