Nail Tech Programs

Nail art allows for artistic expression and creativity, AND the beauty industry is continuously expanding, providing stable job opportunities.

Some nail techs can start their own businesses, offering services like manicures, pedicures, and nail art.

Education & Training

To learn about the finer aspects of the job, prospects should enroll in nail tech school. They may do this by attending trade courses or community colleges.

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After completing several months’ worth of nail tech classes, hopefuls must pass a state licensure exam. Testing requirements vary from state to state. For example, Connecticut has no nail care licensure requirements.

Exams consist of both written and practical portions. The minimum age to take licensure tests is 16. An additional license is required for those looking to run mobile manicure and pedicure services.

Most students take their licensure exams in school after finishing their coursework. Depending on the state, classes can last anywhere between 200 and 600 hours. Sample exam question are available through the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology.


Below is a list of annual and hourly wages per state.

Area Name Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Alabama $14.30 $29,730.00
Arizona $17.50 $36,390.00
Arkansas $13.96 $29,050.00
California $16.40 $34,110.00
Colorado $20.52 $42,680.00
Connecticut $13.94 $28,990.00
Delaware $13.99 $29,090.00
District of Columbia $23.39 $48,660.00
Florida $16.13 $33,550.00
Georgia $13.27 $27,600.00
Hawaii $13.07 $27,190.00
Illinois $20.68 $43,020.00
Indiana $15.62 $32,500.00
Iowa $18.48 $38,430.00
Kansas $12.76 $26,530.00
Kentucky $18.27 $38,000.00
Louisiana $12.09 $25,140.00
Maine $16.93 $35,210.00
Maryland $15.59 $32,420.00
Massachusetts $16.36 $34,030.00
Michigan $17.49 $36,390.00
Minnesota $14.73 $30,640.00
Mississippi $14.29 $29,730.00
Missouri $15.84 $32,950.00
Montana $20.52 $42,680.00
Nebraska $29.14 $60,610.00
Nevada $14.45 $30,050.00
New Hampshire $14.99 $31,190.00
New Jersey $15.19 $31,600.00
New York $16.29 $33,870.00
North Carolina $14.17 $29,480.00
Ohio $16.51 $34,330.00
Oklahoma $13.18 $27,410.00
Oregon $23.59 $49,070.00
Pennsylvania $13.25 $27,560.00
Puerto Rico $14.16 $29,450.00
Rhode Island $13.99 $29,110.00
South Carolina $13.74 $28,590.00
South Dakota $16.78 $34,910.00
Tennessee $14.47 $30,100.00
Texas $14.47 $30,090.00
Utah $14.75 $30,670.00
Vermont $25.22 $52,450.00
Virginia $16.36 $34,030.00
Washington $21.32 $44,340.00
West Virginia $17.95 $37,340.00
Wisconsin $15.26 $31,740.00
Wyoming $13.57 $28,230.00

Occupation:Manicurists and Pedicurists (SOC Code395092)

ob benefits can include the following:

  • Healthcare coverage
  • Life insurance
  • Dental and vision coverage
  • Paid time off
  • 401(k) retirement plans
  • Free or reduced-cost nail care
  • Company-sponsored outings
  • Maternity and paternity leave

Career Overview

What Do They Do?

Nail technicians are trained to beautify clients by cleaning underneath and around nails, and grooming to remove sharp points or excess skin. These workers are best known for performing manicures and pedicures, which include add-on treatments and services.

Manicure Definition

Manicures are hand treatments meant to moisturize and beautify. During these routines, technicians shape nails, trim cuticles, and clip away dead skin. They soak and wash client’s hands, making sure to diligently clean underneath nails. Manicures often involve hand massages and the coating of nails in polish, acrylics, and creative designs.

Pedicure Definition

Pedicures are manicures for the feet. Technicians soak and knead their client’s feet, ankles, and calves. They remove old skin cells with the use of pumice stones or other nail tools. Workers take action to reduce callouses but must be careful to avoid breaking or cutting the skin. Toenails are cleaned, clipped, and decorated based on each client’s desire.

Job Duties

Nail care specialists greet customers upon entry, presenting them with an array of treatment options. Some may want their nails polished and buffed, while others could request special treatmens such as fiberglass or silk wraps. Patrons might ask for certain designs or patterns to be painted upon their nails. Others will only request massages or moisturizing skin treatments. Getting to know customers and their preferences is a big part of the job.

Suggestive upselling at every stage of a client’s visit is crucial in order to turn the most profit. For example, if a patron mentions they are about to take a vacation, the worker might suggest a gel manicure to prevent long-term chipping and peeling. Workers come up with promotions in order to entice new customers and satisfy repeat clients.

A common procedure performed by these professionals is the French manicure. This is when the fingernails are painted a shade of pink with a white tip. There are many variations of this style and it should be mastered by those looking to get into the field.

At the conclusion of a visit, associates give advice on things clients can do at home to maintain soft skin and well-kept nails. Workers must operate checkout registers and accept payments via cash, card, or phone app. They should remind patrons to use any available coupons or loyalty cards.

One of the most important things a nail care specialist can do is to thoroughly clean their equipment after each use. This helps prevent the spread of dangerous fungi, bacteria, and viruses.

What Types of Tools Do Workers Use?

It’s essential for nail care specialists to train in the proper use of their equipment. This is because mistakes can lead to scrapes, cuts, or unwanted results. Workers use manicure stations and pedicure chairs to keep clients comfortable during procedures. They also utilize the following nail supplies:

  • Nail clippers – metal snipping devices used to cut long nails
  • Nail files – strips of metal, glass, ceramic, or emery used for shaping and grinding
  • Diamond nail files – the strongest and longest-lasting files available
  • Nail forms – used to measure the shape of a nail when applying acrylics and gels
  • Cuticle exfoliators – gets rid of dead skin and prevents cuticles from becoming overgrown
  • Cuticle oils – typically consisting of vegetable oil and vitamins, these liquids moisturize cuticles
  • Cuticle removers – formulas made from potassium hydroxide that dissolve cuticles
  • Cuticle nippers – removes dirt around cuticles and trims unneeded skin around nails
  • Nail towelettes – removes acrylics, gels, and polishes without leaving small pieces of fiber
  • Fine-tip brushes – useful tools when painting intricate nail designs
  • Toe separators – made from silicone, rubber, or gel, these spacers prevent nail overlap
  • Foot files – smoothens heels and feet by removing calluses and stripping dead skin
  • Nail cleansers – made of isopropyl alcohol to kill bacteria and clean nail polish residue
  • Nail tips – extends nail length, shapes nails, and allows for the application of acrylics and gels
  • Hand and foot baths – used to soak and soften skin or hold acetone solution when removing acrylics
  • Nail drying lamps – rapidly cures nail polish and uses UV light to strengthen gels

What Are Useful Skills for People in This Field?

  • Business aptitude to perform tasks involving personnel management and accounting
  • Social skills for meeting and working with people from all backgrounds and ages
  • Promotional and marketing skills to attract new customers and increase patron loyalty
  • Being personable and understanding the customer’s desires or visions by listening closely
  • A creative mindset to suggest designs and add custom touches based on a client’s personality
  • A friendly yet persuasive demeanor to sell cleansers and other nail care products
  • Management skills to delegate tasks for those who own a salon
  • The desire to keep a clean workspace along with organizing manicure stations and nail polish racks

Using sharp tools like cuticle nippers requires focus and stable movement. A steady brush hand also comes in handy while painting intricate designs atop nails and acrylics. It can be difficult to alter or erase mistakes, so a solid skill-set is crucial for those training to use nail art supplies.

Work Environment

Workers must keep clean workspaces, as buildup of nail and skin debris leads to unclean conditions. After each visit, nail techs sanitize their manicure tools along with countertops, chairs, and other equipment. They sweep the floor and dispose of unwanted materials.

Depending on their employer, nail care specialists can work full-time or part-time schedules. They work at other people’s convenience and are therefore busiest during evenings and weekends. Prospects should expect fast-paced work environments with demanding customers and unforgiving work conditions.

Colleagues focus on close-up details for long periods and work with potentially toxic chemicals. Since the job involves a great deal of sitting and stooping, associates may develop back or neck pain. In their spare time, nail care specialists may stretch or practice yoga to alleviate physical side effects.

Workers wear several types of personal protective gear to reduce their exposure to fine particles or harmful fumes. These can include:

  • Dust masks – worn when using acrylic powders and during filing or buffing
  • Odor control dust masks – shields the user from dust and protects against many chemical aromas
  • Air purifying respirators – carries a bit of a learning curve but protects the user from toxic vapors and gases
  • Nitrile gloves – protects the specialist’s skin more effectively than latex gloves
  • Goggles – reduces eye irritation and repels airborne nail specks or chemical splashes
  • Full-body aprons – used to guard clothing when using skin-dissolving compounds to remove cuticles

Where Do They Work?

Most manicurists find employment in spas, hair studios, or nail salons. They can work everywhere from luxury resorts in secluded locations to small mom-and-pop operations on busy street corners. Retail-minded individuals may find comfort in a nail supply store, while hands-on types will seek employment at some sort of beauty shop.

Nail care professionals often promote their businesses through social media and local publications. Outdoor signage is also helpful, especially if it displays pricing info or details about specials. As with many businesses, excellent customer service often leads to word-of-mouth recommendations and new clients.

Can You Work Remotely?

There are lots of self-employed manicurists and pedicurists in the United States. Sometimes they have salons in their home, and in other cases they make house calls. Select entrepreneurs choose to build mobile nail salon trucks for consistent working conditions while traveling to clients.

Those who work for themselves have to consider all aspects of their business. This includes accounting, inventory management, and employee leadership. The increased responsibility often leads to long shifts and weekend work, so passion for nail care is crucial.

What Are Alternate Careers for Nail Technicians?

As many nail techs work in hair salons, cosmetology is a common cross-training that nail technicians may take up. Cosmetologists earn around $25k per year by styling hair, applying makeup, and giving fashion advice. They listen closely to client’s requests, performing haircuts and makeovers based on these instructions.

Tools used by cosmetologists include curling irons, flat irons, and blow dryers. They utilize scissors and brushes while cutting hair, often applying product to prevent frizzing. Workers also make use of shampoo and conditioner on their clients while being sure to administer color and other treatments when needed. Common cosmetologist duties include the following:

  • Accepting and processing client payments
  • Using chemicals to alter hair textures and colors
  • Giving facial treatments and scalp massages
  • Advising clients on new styles based on their hair types and personalities
  • Maintaining inventory and ensuring supplies are ordered and ready for use
  • Keeping track of services and products provided to customers
  • Styling or laundering hairpieces, weaves, and wigs
  • Recommending hair or skin products to clients based on their unique needs
  • Thoroughly cleaning workspaces and equipment after each visit

The customer service skills possessed by nail care techs can translate over to the field of skin care. Specialists in this field work in spas and salons to improve the health of their client’s skin. They use wax and laser treatments to remove unwanted hair and apply makeup to enhance appearance.

Based upon skin analysis results, workers consult their clients on unique skincare routines. Technicians are able to recommend a wide variety of creams and lotions depending on a customer’s dermal condition. These associates may earn commission based upon the amount of skincare products they sell.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor, the demand for manicurists and pedicurists is set to surge by 9% from 2022 to 2032, outpacing the average growth across all job sectors. Over the decade, approximately 25,500 new positions are anticipated annually.

These openings will largely arise from workforce turnover, including retirements and transitions to other professions.