Nail Certification and Certificate Programs

Read about certificate program information for nail technicians. Learn about educational prerequisites, program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

Essential Information

Nail technicians work directly with clients while performing nail care tasks such as manicures, pedicures and nail art. A certificate of achievement program is the most common form of training for nail technicians. While certification isn't available, these programs are intended to prepare those who successfully pass for mandatory nail care licensing in their respective states.

In nail technician certificate programs, individuals are taught the fundamentals of nail care in preparation for building careers in salons or spas. Topics commonly addressed include basic procedures and salon operations. Safety and sanitation are also emphasized, especially in terms of identifying basic skin disorders and diseases. Many programs provide career preparation for working in a client-oriented service industry. Topics like professionalism, communication and ethics are addressed.

Educational Prerequisites

Nail technician certificate programs are typically offered at 2-year community and technical colleges, as well as for-profit cosmetology schools. Applicants are required to possess a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some programs require applicants to submit documentation proving a recent tuberculosis test.

Program Coursework

Students in nail technician certificate programs may take a single overview class or multiple classes that cover topics such as the following:

  • Introduction to nail technology
  • Fundamentals of cosmetology science
  • Basic nail care
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Artificial nails

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that between 2010 and 2020, employment opportunities in nail care were projected to rise 17%. An overall increase in the number of salons and spas was expected to drive this growth, leading to strong potential for entry-level, state-certified nail technicians. The mean annual wage for manicurists and pedicurists was $21,440 as of May 2012 (

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Nail technicians are not required to obtain certification. However, licensure is required in all states. Common prerequisites include completion of a state-approved program, such as a certificate program, and earning a high school diploma. To obtain licensure, an individual usually must complete a written examination and a practical test. Specific requirements vary by state. Technicians interested in further nail care training may pursue an associate degree in cosmetology, which includes education in nail, hair and skin care.

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