Manicure Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

There are no degree programs offered in nail technology; however, a prospective student can complete a certificate in the field. These nail technology certificate programs are offered by community colleges and vocational schools.

Certificate programs in nail technology are widely available. Program specifics vary, but a typical curriculum includes not only extensive hands-on training, but courses in business and client relations as well.

10 Schools with Manicure Programs

The following table - with information on location and tuition - represents a small sample of programs designed for aspiring nail technicians.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered School Tuition/Program Cost (2015-2016)
Palm Beach State College Palm Beach, FL 2-year, Public Certificate $718 in-state, $2,888 out-of-state (program cost)
Johnson County Community College Overland Park, KS 2-year, Public Certificate $3,180 in-state, $6,420 out-of-state (school tuition)
Indian River State College Fort Pierce, FL 4-year, Public Certificate $2,764 in-state, $10,201 out-of-state (school tuition)
Pensacola State College Pensacola, FL 2-year, Public Certificate $686.40 in-state, $2,745.60 out-of-state (program cost)
Century College St Paul, MN 2-year, Public Certificate $2,875 (program cost)
Pulaski Technical College North Little Rock, AR 2-year, Public Certificate $3,900 (Spring 2017, program cost)
Lake Land College Mattoon, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $7,282 in-state, $13,084 out-of-state (school tuition)
Brunswick Community College Bolivia, NC 2-year, Public Certificate, Diploma, Associate's (cosmetology) $2,404 in-state, $8,548 out-of-state (school tuition)
Athens Technical College Athens, GA 2-year, Public Diploma (cosmetology) $2,684 in-state, $4,820 out-of-state (school tuition)

Sources: School websites, National Center for Educational Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Certificate programs in nail technology can be completed in a short amount of time. This is an advantage to students who wish to learn the fundamentals of the trade and begin working shortly after completing the program.

Consider the following when looking for manicure schools:

  • Aspiring nail technologists should consider schools that offer the opportunity to practice in a salon or a salon-like environment.
  • Students should consider whether programs offer business courses, particularly if they're interested in operating their own manicure businesses in the future.
  • Students should ensure that their program of choice includes some instruction on client relations.
  • Students should determine whether they wish to study only manicuring or related fields as well, since manicure courses are often found within broader cosmetology degree programs.

Nail Technology Certificate

Before working as manicurists, individuals must pass their state's nail technician licensure exam. Nail technology certificate programs are designed to provide students with the education they need to be eligible for these exams. These programs typically take no more than a few months to complete. Classes cover manicuring techniques, nail health, salon sanitation procedures and basic business practices, and they give students the chance to apply their skills in labs or real salon settings.

Associate's Degree in Cosmetology

For students who are looking to explore multiple aspects of a salon career, including manicuring, an associate's degree in cosmetology can provide broader training in the field. However, students who enroll in these programs should be aware that they are designed to provide preparation for state cosmetology exams, rather than nail technician licensing exams. In addition to taking career-focused courses in haircutting, hair coloring and manicure techniques, students must also fulfill general education requirements.

Aspiring manicurists can earn a nail technician certificate in order to be eligible to take the state licensure exam; associate's degree programs in cosmetology are suitable for students looking for broader training in the field. Students should consider whether a program offers business courses, and if the school allows students to train in a real-world salon.

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