Become a Manicure Instructor: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Jul 10, 2020

Should I Become a Manicure Instructor?

Manicure instructors teach nail technology at cosmetology or vocational schools. They teach others to perform manicures and pedicures, including shaping, cleaning and polishing clients' fingernails and toenails. Instructors and students working on nails may need to wear protective masks and gloves when working with chemicals.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Postsecondary training program in nail technology and manicure instructing
Degree Fields Nail technology or cosmetology
Licensure Most states require licensure as a manicurist and manicure instructor
Experience Several months of manicuring experience may be required prior to instructor training
Key Skills Strong verbal communication abilities, customer service skills, good attention to detail, ability to operate complex nail technology equipment
Salary (2016) $35,403 yearly (median for all cosmetology instructors)

Sources: Southwest Tech, Mayland Community College, College of the Mainland, Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology, Blue Ridge Community College,

Step 1: Complete a Training Program

Aspiring manicure instructors must first become manicurists, also called nail technicians. Completion of a certificate, an associate's degree or an apprenticeship program in manicuring or cosmetology is typically required for nail technicians. Manicuring programs may teach students about anatomy, safety precautions and common hand/foot diseases. They typically also include hands-on experience in manicure, pedicure and nail extension services. These programs are often available at vocational schools or community colleges and can prepare students for state licensing exams. Cosmetology programs include coursework and experience in manicuring, in addition to hair and makeup training. Certificate programs may take up to three semesters to complete.

Success Tip:

  • Develop strong communication skills. Manicurists should be able to communicate with clients to determine what results they want. High school courses in English, public speaking and related topics can help strengthen these skills. Some nail technician programs include communication training in a salon setting.

Step 2: Become Licensed

Prospective manicurists must fulfill state education and training requirements before applying to take their state's licensing exam. This often includes receiving 600 hours of manicurist education. Applicants who have completed a state-approved apprenticeship might also be eligible to take the licensing exam. Students must take both written and practical components. Nail technicians who pass the exam earn a state-issued license and can legally work in that state.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Nail technicians often must obtain work experience at a nail or beauty salon before pursuing training as an instructor. Field experience can help technicians strengthen their skills and serve as a prerequisite for some manicure instructor courses. In some states, experience can substitute for part of the education required to take the state instructor licensure exam.

Step 4: Complete Instructor Education

Nail technicians must complete a manicure instructor program to gain eligibility for their state's instructor licensing exam. These certificate programs prepare individuals to teach manicuring theory, practical skills and nail technology labs. Instructor candidates also learn to assess students' work, plan lessons and demonstrate manicuring methods in front of a class.

Step 5: Obtain an Instructor License

Most states require manicure instructors to hold an instructor license. The licensing process requires a current state manicuring license and completion of a two-part exam. Instructors in some states may have to attend continuing education or training courses to renew their licenses on an annual basis.

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