Nail Technician: Educational Requirements

Working as a nail technician requires little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

Nail technicians beautify nails through manicures and pedicures. This career is expected to see faster-than-average employment growth from 2014-2024, and only a short-term training program is needed in order to qualify for professional licensure exams.

Essential Information

Nail technicians, also known as manicurists/pedicurists, offer extensive beautification services to the nails of their clients. Technicians must earn state licenses to practice. In order to be eligible for such licensing exams, individuals must first complete a nail technician program, which may lead to a certificate.

Required Education Completion of a training program needed for licensure; on-the-job training or an internship may also be required
Licensing Licensing required by all states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% for manicurists and pedicurists*
Median Salary (2015) $20,820

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Nail technician training programs are typically found at community, vocational and technical colleges. These programs may last a few months and cover training on manicures, pedicures, artificial nails application, nail upkeep and customer service skills. Outside of the classroom, students may be required to complete internships for nail shops or salon in order to get hands-on work experience.


Programs may begin with introductory courses in nail care that explore theory and practical applications. Students may then learn to do manicures, pedicures, nail wraps and acrylics, as well as how to shape nails and apply artificial nails. Training may also cover topics in following safety and sanitation regulations, developing communication skills and treating nail disorders.


Aspiring nail technicians must become licensed by their respective state. Requirements vary; however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most states require applicants to be at least 16 years old and complete an accredited training program. Eligible candidates may then sit for the state licensing exam, which may cover topics ranging from chemicals to nail technology. Once licensed, nail technicians may need to maintain their licenses.

Job Description

Nail technicians focus on improving their clients' nails. Some of the nail services they provide include manicures, pedicures, coloring and nail extensions. They typically work 40 hours per week, although the BLS notes that many of these hours are spent during evenings and weekends, which is often their busiest time.

Employment Outlook for Nail Technicians

According to the BLS, job openings for manicurists and pedicurists were projected to grow 10% between 2014 and 2024. The steady growth of nail salons and full-service spas, as well as mobile services, was a major reason for this growth. The BLS also reported that as of May 2015, the median annual salary for manicurists and pedicurists was $20,820.

Nail technicians typically complete certificate programs to qualify for state licensure, and licensure is granted after passing a state exam. Weekends and evenings are often the busiest times for a nail technician, although there is some flexibility in this field, with opportunities to own your own business or work as a mobile nail technician.

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