Manicure Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a manicurist. Get a quick view of the educational requirements as well as details about job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

A manicurist specializes in treating people's nails, cuticles and hands. No degree is necessary; however, a high school diploma or GED may be required. All states require completion of an approved cosmetology program and licensing.

Essential Information

A manicure involves cleaning, trimming, polishing or applying extensions to the nails. Prospective manicurists, also known as nail technicians, must complete an accredited nail technician program and take a state-administered licensing exam to work in the industry. However, much of a manicurist's training occurs on the job as an assistant or an apprentice.

Required Education Completion of a nail technician certificate or diploma program
Additional Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10% (all manicurists and pedicurists)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $20,820 per year (all manicurists and pedicurists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Manicurists

Prospective manicurists in the United States are required to attend state-licensed cosmetology or vocational schools to learn their trade. Students can enroll in nail technician certificate or diploma programs. The length of the program may vary according to each state's licensing requirements. In addition to learning manicures and nail care, students become familiar with diseases and disorders of the nails. They also learn proper sanitation techniques and safety precautions to protect their clients and themselves.


Upon completion of the nail technician program, manicurists are required to take a state board-administered cosmetology exam to become licensed practitioners. Licensing qualifications vary by state; however, most states require manicurists to have a high school diploma or GED, be at least 16 years old and have a nail technician certificate or diploma from an accredited cosmetology program. Some licensing exams are comprised of a written section and a practical section. After the exam is passed, prospective manicurists must apply for their license and pay a licensing fee. Licenses must be renewed periodically according to state requirements.

Career Info

Manicurists administer professional nail and hand treatments in addition to giving manicures. They are also familiar with hand massage techniques. Manicurists are responsible for the maintenance of their instruments and cleanliness of their area. Many shops also require manicurists to sell nail products to their clients.

Manicurists advance in their profession through word of mouth and client references. The larger a manicurist's client base, the larger the salary they can command from a business. Ultimately, many manicurists work to open their own businesses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the median annual wage for manicurists was $20,820 in May 2015. The BLS projects strong job growth for manicurists due to an increasing number of nail salons; career opportunities are expected to increase 10%.

Manicurist career openings continue to flourish and are expected to significantly increase in the coming future. Manicurists must complete a state-sanctioned cosmetology program and pass a licensing exam. Mandatory skills for a manicurist include cleanliness and an understanding of hygiene.

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