Pedicure Diplomas and Certification Program Overviews

Learn about nail technician and cosmetology certificate and diploma programs. Read on to get information on certification requirements, courses and career options in this field.

Essential Information

Students interested in obtaining pedicure skills can pursue nail technician certificates or cosmetology diplomas. Nail technician certificate programs consist of a few courses in manicures, pedicures and general nail care. Cosmetology diploma programs provide nail care courses as well, but they also offer courses in hair styling and coloring. A diploma in cosmetology may take 1-2 years to complete.

Training in nail care at both levels consists of courses in skin care, nail art and special procedures such as applying artificial nails. Students also learn about nail diseases, sanitation regulations and safety procedures. Earning a certificate or diploma in this field can prepare graduates for nail technician licensure, which is required in all states except Connecticut.

Nail Technician Certificate

Nail technician certificate programs prepare students for entry-level work in salons and spas performing manicures, pedicures and other forms of nail care. These career-focused programs include training in nail diseases, skin care and nail art. Students learn relevant professional issues including sanitation, safety, local laws and applicable regulations. Applicants to nail technician certificate programs must have a high school diploma or GED.

Program Coursework

Coursework in nail technician certificate programs includes both classroom learning and extensive hands-on training. Common courses include:

  • Basic nail care
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Overlays, tips and fill-ins
  • Salon and spa management
  • Customer service

Cosmetology Diploma

Diploma programs in cosmetology train students to perform manicures and pedicures, hair coloring, barbering, chemical relaxing and skin care. Additionally, these programs provide basic business skills that prepare students for customer-focused employment and management opportunities. Most cosmetology diploma programs require between one and two years of study. Cosmetology diploma programs require applicants to be high school graduates or the equivalent.

Program Coursework

Students in cosmetology diploma programs are taught diverse skills through classroom-based and hands-on learning. The curriculum offers training in:

  • Hair and scalp treatments
  • Nail technology
  • Fundamentals of haircutting
  • Hair waving and relaxing
  • Shampooing
  • Salon management

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Nail technicians held approximately 62,330 jobs in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The majority were employed in salons and spas. Between 2010 and 2020, manicurists and pedicurists can expect to see job growth of 17%. Two primary factors in this expected rise are the demand for innovative nail services and an increased awareness of grooming practices. The median hourly wages for manicurists and pedicurists was $9.24 in May 2012.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Nail technicians are required by all states to hold certification. Though certification regulations vary by state, most require an individual to complete an accredited training program, possess a high school diploma or GED, be at least 16 years of age and pass a licensing examination. The exam always includes a written portion and a practical test or oral exam. Those interested in pedicurist careers are not generally required to pursue advanced education. However, individuals seeking advancement into roles such as salon management can take business courses.

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