Career Information for a Degree or Certification in Nail Manicure

Jun 15, 2021

After earning an associate's degree or certificate in a program such as cosmetology, a manicurist is required by many states to obtain a license before they begin working with clients. Customers and reputation are significant in this profession and, once both have been built up, a manicurist has the option to start his or her own salon or business. Alternatively, some manicurists might complete a training program to become an instructor for a nail technician course.

Essential Information

Manicurists, also known as nail technicians, begin their careers by studying nail technology or cosmetology. They can then go on to offer their services in salons, spas or even people's homes. Some become instructors in trade school programs. It is necessary for aspiring nail technicians to complete a minimum of an approved certificate program in nail technology and to obtain a license.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree
Licensure Required
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 19% for all manicurists and pedicurists
Median Annual Salary (May 2020)* $27,870 for all manicurists and pedicurists

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Certification

Degree Programs for Manicurists

State laws usually only require manicurists to complete a certificate program in nail technology through an approved trade school. However, some manicurists choose to complete an associate's degree program in cosmetology through a community or vocational college. With a cosmetology degree, one can be licensed as a cosmetologist, allowing the individual to perform a wide range of personal appearance services, such facials or cutting and styling hair, in addition to offering manicures and pedicures.

Certification and Licensure

While no professional certification existed for manicurists as of 2018, many states require nail technicians to obtain a license before offering nail care services to the public, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS ( Typically, candidates for licensure must complete an approved training program that includes training in nail care and appropriate hygiene standards for giving manicures and pedicures in a salon or home environment. As part of a training program, students generally gain practical experience in providing nail care through working in a student clinic. After graduation, students must pass a licensing exam before they can receive a manicurist license. The BLS reported that all states require cosmetologists to be licensed.


Job Responsibilities

Manicurists trim, shape and polish their clients' toenails and fingernails. They may also massage the feet, hands, legs and arms of their clients and remove calluses from their clients' feet. In many cases, the manicurist also applies topical, cosmetic treatments to their clients' feet and hands. A nail technician also maintains healthy hygiene standards by sterilizing and disinfecting equipment used in providing nail care services.

Career Advancement

A manicurist who earns a degree in cosmetology can move into other areas of personal appearance work and, after developing a strong reputation and clientele, can often command higher prices for his or her work. Nail technicians can also begin their own businesses, either by starting their own nail salons or by offering in-home services. Another option is to become a nail technician instructor. This usually requires one to complete a teacher training program and earn state licensure as an instructor.

Job Prospects and Salary

The BLS estimated that employment of manicurists and pedicurists would increase by 19% from 2019-2029. The median annual salary for manicurists and pedicurists as of May 2020 was $27,870.

When it comes to postsecondary education, most states only require manicurists to hold a certificate in nail technology in addition to their license; however, an associate's degree gives aspiring salon professionals a chance to train in several subjects on top of manicures and pedicures, such as hair styling and facials, which some employers may find favorable. After a few years of professional experience and once a client base is solidified, self-employed manicurists might have the option to increase their rates. Manicurists need to keep their tools and work space sterilized, and they should be prepared to massage a client's feet and remove their calluses.

Next: View Schools
Created with Sketch. Link to this page

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?