How To Become A Nail Technician | Find Out Today!

How to Become a Nail Technician or Manicurist / Pedicurist

Thinking about enrolling in nail technician school?

Thinking About Enrolling In Nail Technician School?

If you are considering enrolling in nail technician school training, you are probably curious about how much the program costs, how long it will take to complete, what you will learn in the program and other basics. At Beauty Schools Directory we have the answers to many of your most common questions about becoming a nail tech. We’ve also got connections to schools that can provide you with the education required to help you become a licensed nail tech, so you can decide whether taking this step in your career is the right decision for you.

Beauty Schools Directory can help students like you…

  • Find the program you need to pursue a variety of beauty careers.
  • Apply for our very own beauty school scholarship that could help you pay for tuition and school fees!
  • Fuel your passion for finding creative careers in the world of beauty!

If you think training to become a professional manicurist sounds like the right fit for you, just enter your zip code in the box to the right. Choose "Nail Technology" as your program to find schools near you that offer this program.

Jump to Your Question:

How do I become a nail technician?

If you're looking to join the nail tech industry, attending nail school might be for you. Most cosmetology and beauty schools offer courses dedicated to nail technician courses as part of their cosmetology curriculum, but there are also schools dedicated specifically to learning nail technology.

Nail Technician School Courses & Career Outcomes

Did you know that becoming a nail technician is way more than manis and pedis? In fact, there are so many skills you can learn in nail school, it’s worth looking into the specifics. Take a look at the list below, to see just how many angles there are to this career.

When comparing programs, look for nail tech classes that focus on the following manicuring skills and services:

  • Nail art and design
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Acrylics
  • Gels
  • Wraps
  • Nail extensions


Meeting Your State’s Nail Technician Requirements

There are many things you need to consider before starting a nail tech career. Your ultimate goal is to meet your state’s licensed nail technician requirements. Here are some things you will need to look into:

Hands-on training.

In order to sit for your state’s board exams, you will likely have to complete a certain number of ‘clock hours’ of training. This will give you the real experience you need to transition to the workplace.

Safety & sanitation.

Because you are working directly with clients’ skin and nails, it is imperative to get the proper education to be able to practice this profession safely and effectively. Make sure your program includes the health and safety courses that you need to be compliant with your state’s regulations.

Program length.

The training programs can vary in length and requirements, based largely on each state’s individual licensing requirements. Go over program length when you discuss accreditation, cost, and financial aid.

Do you want to look up your state’s nail technician licensing requirements?

You can use that link to take a peer, or you can click the button below to find schools near you that can answer your questions.

What Classes Will I Take In Nail Tech School?

In the world of cosmetology, not every nail school is the same. Most nail schools usually employ experienced instructors to provide the nail tech classes and training to their students, as will some cosmetology and beauty schools.

A licensed cosmetologist must be proficient in the basics of nail technology, but a specifically trained manicure artist may be able to provide more depth and comprehensive instruction to nail tech students. Both are capable of being excellent teachers in this field.

Some of the classes you may see in a nail technician school program:

  • History of Nail Care
  • Personal Hygien and Public Health
  • Safety, Sterilization & Sanitation
  • Nail Care Chemicals – Uses & Technical Applications
  • Nail Care Tools, Machines or Apparatuses – Uses
  • Nail Design & Artistry
  • Manicures/Pedicures
  • Fabric & Sculpting Procedures
  • Light-Cured Gels
  • Nail Extensions, Tips & Wraps
  • Acrylic Nail Forms, Application, Fills and Removal
  • Nail Product Knowledge
  • Massage Techniques for Hands, Arms & Feet
  • Bacteriology & Disorders of the Nails


Look For A Combination of Classroom and Hands-On Learning

Schools teaching nail technology usually offer a combination of theory and book learning. This includes nail tech classes including art and design, as well as the application of various services. You’ll complete your program with hands-on learning with a student nail salon. This training helps prepare you to succeed on your written and practical exams to get licensed. It also gives you a chance to show your skills off, especially if you’ve been a nail artist for years and are just now getting your professional education.

We should also mention the importance of learning from experienced instructors who can help you understand what to expect in your day-to-day role as a manicure artist. Even if you’ve been doing nails forever, the business aspect of it may be a new thing to you. As a tip--ask each school you speak with who their instructors are, and what kinds of professional experience they have.

What knowledge and skills are required to become a nail tech?

A nail technician must be able to perform a number of tasks to be successful in this business. The daily tasks of a nail artist many include:

  • Cleaning and sanitizing your tools and work station
  • Scheduling appointments with clients
  • Taking and managing payments
  • Removing previously applied nail polish and acrylics
  • Cleaning customers’ nails and skin for manicures or pedicures
  • Shaping and smoothing nails
  • Cuticle and nail bed work
  • Applying undercoat, polish and topcoat

Some of the physical requirements to be successful at manicuring are arm-hand steadiness, manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination and good near vision.

What Else Do I Need to Be A Successful Nail Tech?

A great nail technician should seek to develop these skills to enhance their career:


  • Excellent customer service and listening skills
  • Friendly and comfortable attitude when working with other
  • Consult and assess client needs
  • Market skills that inspire repeat business and customer loyalty
  • Implementing referral and other incentive programs that generate revenue

How Long Does Nail Technician School Take?

Most states require anywhere from 200 to 800 hours of training to sit for your licensing exam, but the national average is 375 hours of training. Some states also allow apprenticeship to get some or all of your training hours, but most require you to get your training in a formal school setting.

Because of your state’s licensing requirements, the length of your nail tech training may vary from one state to another. This may also vary based on whether you go to school part time or full time. The average length of a nail tech program is 3 to 12 months. Be sure to ask the schools you’re considering what the average time to complete the program is.

If you are looking to become a master nail technician (if it's available in your state), additional advanced nail courses may be offered, and in some of those states a master nail technician exam must be passed as well.

Click the “Find Schools” button below to find nail schools near you that can help you get the hours you need.

What’s The Average Cost of Nail Technician School?

The cost of tuition for nail schools can range depending on:

  • Courses in the curriculum
  • Hours of instruction required by your state
  • Location
  • Facilities and equipment

Because of the cost of business facilities, nail technician schools inside or close to major metropolitan cities like Los Angeles or New York will likely cost a little more, whereas smaller, more rural areas or suburbs that may be accessible with a bit of a commute may be cheaper. The cost can also vary by whether you attend a comprehensive cosmetology program, or specifically a nail tech program.

Questions to Ask About Cost of Cosmetology School

For each nail school you're interested in, be sure to ask admissions reps the following questions – and anything else that may be important to you:

What are the total tuition costs are and what exactly does this cost include? Make sure you account for such costs as textbooks, chemicals, polishes, nail care supplies, and so on.

How many hours will my training result in? Nail schools that teach around the national average of 300-600 hours tend to have tuition that costs on average $3,000 to $5,000, including the cost of textbooks and supplies. Most of the nail technician schools we surveyed said that their program costs less than $5,000 to complete. A select few schools did the nail program cost ranges from $5,000 to $9,000. It is also important to ask the schools whether materials like books, a nail kit and frocks or aprons are included in the cost.

What kinds of financial aid options are available? Check to see if you have federal and private loan options; as well as scholarship and grant opportunities.

What is the average nail technician salary?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), manicurist and pedicurist salaries average $22,500 per year before tips. The highest paying states are Vermont, Alaska, South Dakota, Iowa and D.C.

Nail technician salary depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Many nail technicians choose to work part-time instead of full-time
  • Salary has the potential to grow with experience as you grow clientele, and increasing the number of hours you work
  • Another thing BLS data often does not account for accurately is the tips a nail technician may receive for their manicure, pedicure and nail services.

For more information about beauty wages, let’s compare the average nail technician salaries with the average cosmetologist salary…

Full cosmetologists who are licensed to do hair, nail, makeup and skin services have a higher earning potential. They earn a median salary of $27,940 per year before tips (BLS, 2017). Check out our full salary page for more information on this topic. Keep in mind, this statistic does not mean your nail technician salary has to be lower. Ask each school you speak with how nail techs in your area can maximize their earning potential!

What is the job outlook for nail technicians after graduation?

The great thing about consumer tastes for nail work is that it keeps getting fancier and a more commonplace splurge! The need for great nail artists and qualified nail technicians can be seen across the United States. Women’s fashion trends love to accent their styles with awesome nails, and the pedicure is fast becoming the weekend treat of choice!

Nails Magazine reported in their Nail Industry Statistics that the money spent on salon services continues to grow. They estimated that $8.54 billion was spent on nail care services in particular during 2015. They also estimate that some 23% of nail technicians have worked in this profession for more than 10 years! That tells you a lot about the potential for long-term success in this beauty occupation!

After graduating from a nail technician school, most students find careers in the field of cosmetology at salons or spas, while some others continue training and move into the field of skin care and massage treatments.

In the most recent Nails Magazine report, 40% of licensed nail techs were salon owners who also spend time doing nails, up from 33% owners in previous years. Of course, there are other ways to make your nail tech degree count, even if you don’t go the traditional route of salon manicures.

Popular Nail Technician Careers

Outside of the traditional salon experience, the next most popular choices for nail tech jobs include:

  • Booth renter nail technician
  • Nail technician salon or spa employee
  • Home salon nail tech
  • Mobile salon - where nail techs actually deliver their services to the client
  • Salon managers
  • Nail department managers
  • Cosmetologists
  • Beauty school instructors

Do you want to discuss the kinds of nail tech careers you can pursue with the right training? Use our simple search tools to contact your closest school options today!

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