Nail Technician / Manicurist Job Description

Are you considering becoming a manicurist or nail technician?

Do you love relaxing and getting a wonderful manicure and pedicure? There are many other clients out there who feel the same way, and there is a growing demand for nail technician services nationwide. If your dream job involves using your creativity while socializing, manicuring may be a good choice for you.

Beauty Schools Directory offers many benefits for future nail tech students, including:

  • Organized, easy-to-find answers to the most common questions about nail tech salary, job outlook, career options and more!
  • Simple search tools so you can quickly view your options for nail tech training.
  • Scholarship opportunities for students who enroll in any type of beauty program.

If you love the idea of becoming a licensed Nail Technician, enter your zip code in the box to the right and choose “Nail Technology” as your program to find schools near you.

Jump to Your Question:

How should I find, compare and contact nail schools?

The first step to becoming a nail technician is to get the required education and licensure in your state. If you're considering becoming a master manicurist/pedicurist, talk to nail schools about their programs. You’ll want to ask about the cost of tuition at their campus, curriculum and any other questions you have.

Everyone learns a little differently and has slightly different priorities when it comes to choosing the right college, so we created this handy step-by-step How to Choose a Beauty School checklist to help.

Quick Tips for Comparing Nail Schools

When you take the next step and contact schools, be sure to ask these questions before you choose where to enroll:

  • Accreditation – Does the school guarantee a Board approved program?
  • License requirements – Be sure your program will equip you to work professionally.
  • Class schedule & duration – Will your nail tech program fit your current work schedule and personal responsibilities?
  • Financial aid options – Does your school offer the right mix of federal and private loan options? What about scholarships and grants?

We find that the average student considers 3 to 5 schools before making a final choice. If you have limited options for nail-focused programs, compare them to full cosmetology options. You might realize you have the talent for hair and makeup as well.

Your education is an important life decision that should be considered with care after comparing your school options. Nail schools nationwide are enrolling now! Find schools near you to get started.

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What is a nail technician, or manicurist/pedicurist?

If you enjoy working with your hands and consider yourself a "people person," a career as a manicurist may be right for you. Providing one of the fastest-growing specialties in the world of cosmetology, a manicurist is a licensed nail technician who performs a number of services, including:

  • Cleans
  • Trims
  • Polishes
  • Nail art
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Acrylic
  • Gels

Additionally, nail technicians may learn to go beyond their core skillset. Look for programs that include:

  • Cuticle care
  • Hand/foot/calf massage
  • Scrubs
  • Moisturizers
  • Wax dips
  • And other high-end services & specialized services

Observational and conversational skills also come into play as you consult with your clients and assess the health of their natural nails. They come not only for the skills you provide, but also for the experience of relaxation and pampering, so your personal skills are essential in this profession as well.

How much training is required to become a manicurist?

The first step to getting licensed to do nails is to find a cosmetology school or nail school that meets your needs. Cosmetology programs include hair, nails, makeup and skin care. A nail-specific program is a more tailored to the craft, and is often a shorter way to complete your education. 

Most states require that applicants to nail tech school…

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have either a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete the application process and pay the appropriate fees

Commonly Required Nail School Courses

The curriculum you will follow in nail school includes:

  • Disorders of the nails
  • Chemicals and products
  • Hygiene
  • Public health
  • Sterilization and disinfection
  • Massage theory
  • Sculpting and curing
  • Machines and technology used to do manicures

You will learn how to follow state law for safety procedures in the salon setting, especially if you or the client were to sustain an injury during a manicure or pedicure. Once you have completed your training, you then take your state’s licensing exam. You’ll need to pass this test in order to earn your nail technician’s license and begin practicing professionally.

How Much Training Is Required To Become a Manicurist?

The minimum amount of hours required to sit for the nail technician licensing exam varies from state to state. Some states, like Massachusetts and Virginia, require fewer than 150 hours to complete the program. Other states require up to 600 school hours to complete the program.

The national average for becoming a nail tech is about 375 hours.

Check our list of state nail tech license requirements to find out your state’s unique regulations.

How Long Does Nail Tech School Take?

Depending on your state’s minimum training requirements, and whether you’re attending school full-time or part-time, the nail tech training program can typically be completed in 3 to 9 months.

A small handful of states allow apprenticeships as a way to get your training. However, this path typically requires twice the number of hours as traditional nail programs.

If you think you are cut out for nail school, use our search to find schools near you that offer this program.

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What salary can a nail technician earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the average salary for manicurists and pedicurists was $20,820 per year (2017). However, the BLS cannot accurately account for tips, and this profession tends to have flexible employment arrangements.

Other factors that can impact nail tech salaries:

  • Whether you choose to work part-time or full-time
  • What city or state you work in
  • Whether you work for an existing salon or seek to build your own clientele

The BLS estimates that about 3 in 10 nail techs are self-employed, often running their own nail care businesses. Some salons also offer commission on product sales or bonuses to manicurists who bring in new clients.

What are some of the career paths nail techs can take?

Here are some popular settings where nail techs can find employment:

  • Nail salons
  • Spas and hair salons
  • Resorts
  • Cruise ships
  • Country clubs
  • Health and personal care stores
  • Retail

Many choose to work for a salon, but many others choose to own their own nail businesses. You’ll want to consider this when you enroll in a program, as you may need some business classes as well.

Mobile Nail Tech Jobs

Nowadays some states even allow people to run mobile nail salons, where they perform services at:

  • People’s homes
  • Businesses
  • Special events

Nail Product Development

Some nail technicians decide to take their education to the next level and develop their own product lines, like a polish line, nail care product or even develop all-new styles of manicures like the new popular gel nail trend.

If you’ve got a knack for creating your own designs, or have an idea for a new product, this could be a great route to go!

What is the future job outlook for manicurists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job outlook for manicurists will grow 10% between now and 2024. The national average for all occupations is about 7%, so you can feel optimistic about your opportunities for pursuing this career.

What is a day in the life of a nail technician like?

Check Your Appointment Calendar

Every nail technician should begin their day by:

  • Reviewing their appointment schedule
  • Ensuring they know which clients are coming into the salon
  • Making sure they have the products to perform the services they’ll need
  • Call and remind future appointments, which greatly reduces no-shows

Knowing the itinerary for the day can be very helpful for you to mentally prepare as a manicurist.

Prepare Your Station

A manicuring table holds many nail sculpting and finishing tools, including polishes, files, emery boards and cuticle knives, so a clean work space and attention to detail is important. Giving a manicure involves several steps from start to finish, and good manicurists are well-organized with their tools and their time.

Consult With Your Clients

A manicurist should always consult with clients about their nail challenges and what they're hoping to achieve with their mani/pedi.

The appointment generally begins with the client consultation, where you will ask a number of questions, such as:

  • Is the mani/pedi for an upcoming night out?
  • Are we just having fun, and want to experiment?
  • Do you have any skin conditions or health conditions to discuss?
  • What about a major life event, such as a wedding?

That information may change how you choose to perform the services and what tools you need to use. When you reach a full understanding of what the client wants, the services can then begin.

This time should also be used to get to know your client on a more personal level – their tastes, interests, preferences—you can ask about their family, job, and so on. Building a personal relationship with your clients leads to customer retention and referrals.

Do the Mani/Pedi

This part can includes a number of steps that will relax, rejuvenate, and make the client feel amazing.

Services you provide may include…

  • A warm and sanitizing foot bath
  • Cleaning and moisturizing the hands
  • Using special scrubs or creams
  • Giving a brief hand/foot/calf massage
  • Using scented moisturizing lotions
  • Cuticle care
  • Nail shaping
  • Polishing and top-coating

Some manicures are simple, one-color express manicures. Others may be more advanced like acrylics, gel nails, French tips, or special nail art designs.

Schedule the Next Appointment & Ask for Referrals

When the appointment is complete, every nail tech should tell the client when they would like to see the customer next, and try to get them to book their next appointment before they pay and leave.

Be sure to let your clients know:

  • How long they can expect the mani/pedi to last
  • If it needs regular maintenance
  • How to perform upkeep to make sure it stays looking fresh
  • And ALWAYS book their next appointment before they leave

Licensed nail technicians should remind their happy, loyal customers that they love referral business so you can continue to grow your clientele!

If you think this sounds like a good day’s work, you could be a perfect fit for nail tech school.

Use our search features to contact schools with nail tech programs near you!


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