Nail Technician: Overview of Nail Technician Career Education

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a nail technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training programs, job duties and state licensing requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

As professional cosmetologists, nail technicians are expected to have gone through specialized training. Nail technicians need to have completed either a cosmetology or a certificate program. Furthermore they also need to hold state licensure.

Essential Information

A nail technician is a cosmetology professional who specializes in cleaning, filing and painting clients' fingernails and toenails. These technicians, sometimes referred to as manicurists or pedicurists, also apply artificial nails, nail enhancements and acrylics. Community colleges, technical schools and cosmetology schools often offer nail technology programs as well as cosmetology programs that include nail technician training. The curriculum includes classroom studies and hands-on experience. Most schools require applicants to have a GED certificate or high school diploma and be at least 16 years old.

All states require that nail technicians be licensed. This generally calls for completing a state-approved training program and passing written and practical examinations.

Required Education High school diploma or GED; cosmetology or nail technician program
Other Requirements All states require licensing
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% for manicurists and pedicurists*
Median Salary (2015) $20,820 for manicurists and pedicurists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth in the number of nail salons and day spas should increase manicurist and pedicurist jobs (www.bls.gov). Employment of manicurists and pedicurists is projected to grow 10% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS.

In May 2015, the median annual salary for manicurists and pedicurists was $20,820, as reported by the BLS. The top ten percent in the field earned $33,940 or more annually.

Educational Requirements

Although requirements may vary by school, most programs require participants to be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Interested candidates may also have to take a COMPASS placement test.

All states require nail technicians to be licensed, although states vary in their requirements. To be eligible for licensing, students must complete a state-approved training program. The licensing exam includes a written test and a practical skills test.

Nail technician programs can be found in colleges, technical schools or cosmetology schools. In addition to courses, students spend an extensive amount of time working in salons under the supervision of licensed professionals. The programs can usually be completed in less than a year. Students must complete a designated number of hours working in the salons, gaining hands-on experience. Course topics include safety and sanitation, nail art, manicures and pedicures, artificial enhancements and nail technology.

With a high school diploma or GED, the appropriate licensure and certification and on-the-job training it is possible to qualify to work as a nail technician. You'll also need great customer service skills, and an eye for beauty in order to truly meet the qualifications for this career.


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