Nail Technician Job Duties and Employment Options

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

Essential Information

Nail technicians may work for salons or spas and perform duties ranging from simple nail trimming, buffing and polishing to applications of artificial nails. Completion of a formal training program from an accredited school is required for this career. Nail technicians must earn a license to work in all states, and on-the-job training is common for new hires.

Required Education Formal training program
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Licensure Required
Job Growth (2012-2022)*16% for all manicurists and pedicurists
Median Salary (2013)*$19,340 for all manicurists and pedicurists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nail Technician Job Duties

A nail technician, also known as a manicurist or pedicurist, helps clients to improve their appearance. Their main duties include giving manicures and pedicures. Some nail technicians may also provide expanded services such as the application and removal of various types of artificial nail systems, including acrylic nails, porcelain nails, silk nails, fiberglass nails and nail art.

Educational Requirements for Nail Technicians

Aspiring nail technicians must complete a training program consisting of coursework and completion of a designated number of hours. Students learn nail technology, business and salon management, regulatory and tax laws, infection control and sanitation, diseases of the nails and skin, basic manicuring and artificial nail techniques. They also obtain on-the-job training by working in industry settings and performing nail procedures on live clients. In addition, they may take courses that help prepare them for state licensure exams.


All states have licensing laws for nail technicians and require prospective nail technicians to complete a certain number of hours of schooling and training. Although some specialty care workers may complete associate's degree programs, nail technicians may only be required to complete diploma or certificate programs to become licensed within a state.

Licensing ensures that nail technicians have the skills to work in the field and are aware of state laws and sanitation regulations. To obtain licensure, candidates must pass a written test and, possibly, a practical skills exam.

Employment Options for Nail Technicians

Licensed nail technicians may find work in nail salons, beauty salons, personal care establishments and hotels. Many of these workers are also self-employed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 71,220 manicurists and pedicurists employed in the United States as of 2013 (

The BLS projected that employment growth for the 2012-2022 decade would be 16% for manicurists and pedicurists, which is faster than the average for all jobs. The BLS also noted that nail technicians with previous experience and a license to provide a range of services would enjoy the best opportunities, but that competition would be strong for high-paying positions.

Salary Information

As of May 2013, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for manicures and pedicurists was $19,340, or $9.30 per hour. The lowest-paid 10% earned $8.03 per hour or less, whereas the highest-paid 10% of nail technicians earned $14.58 hourly or more. Although most nail technicians are employed full time, some work part time, so these earnings may be supplemented by other wages.

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