Nail Tech: Career Info for the Nail Technician Professions

Apr 08, 2019

Nail techs need to have formal training in order to provide personal appearance services to clients. Find out what education options are available, along with salary and employment projections. Information is also available on related career paths.

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Career Definition for a Nail Tech

Performing nail treatments on clients' hands and feet is the primary responsibility of a nail tech. A nail tech trims, shapes, files and polishes nails as well as applies tips or wraps to nails, massages hands and feet, applies lotions and air brushes nail art. Some nail techs sell products used during nail services directly to clients, earning commission on each sale. Evening and weekend hours are common for nail techs, who usually work in salons or spas. Nail techs generally work as an employee or an independent contractor renting space from the spa or salon owner. Self-employed nail techs handle salon management, hiring, inventory, marketing and bookkeeping.

Education Certificate or diploma from a community college, vocational institute, or cosmetology school
Job Skills Good visual acuity, physical stamina, and customer service and sales skills
Median Salary (2018)* $24,330 (for manicurists and pedicurists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 13% growth (for manicurists and pedicurists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Nail techs must earn a certificate or diploma through a community college, vocational institute or cosmetology school, usually after one semester of full-time study. State and local licensing requirements vary. Nail techs study basic cosmetology skills, health and safety procedures, manicure and pedicure skills, skin treatments, state regulations and nail afflictions that require referral to a physician, as well as general business skills. Nail techs participate in continuing education opportunities to learn new developments in nail treatments and applications, like acrylic, gel or fiberglass nails, sculpting, airbrushing and nail art.

Job Skills

Nail techs need good visual acuity for detailed work. Nail technician professions require physical stamina since they must sit, stand and spend hours hunched over working on clients' hands and feet. Solid customer service and sales skills are essential, as the satisfaction of the client is the number one priority of nail technicians.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a faster than average future job growth of 13% for nail technician professions from 2016-2026, with a growing interest in low-cost manicure and pedicure options. Nail techs earned a median yearly wage of $24,330 in 2018.

Alternative Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:


These professionals style, color and cut hair, and may also apply makeup. Cosmetologists need to be licensed and graduates of an accredited program. According to the BLS, hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists had a median salary of $24,730 as of 2018. The BLS reported a 13% rise in jobs for these professionals 2016 to 2026 decade.

Skincare Specialist

As part of the beauty experience, skincare specialists focus on the care and treatment of the skin. They also must be licensed and have completed an accredited program. A 14% employment increase was predicted by the BLS for skincare specialists between 2016 and 2026. A median salary of $31,290 was reported for this group in 2018, according to the BLS.

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