How to Become a Nail Technician

If your career aspirations include becoming a nail technician, you must have a passion for working with people. Nail technicians see a wide variety clients each day, even with a loyal clientele base. You'll need excellent people skills, attention to detail and a steady hand.

In most cases, nail technicians can be like therapists to their clients, listening to their concerns during the manicure/pedicure treatment and trying to help them relax and de-stress.

Facts about Nail Technician Work

  • Nail technicians must be knowledgeable on sanitary procedures and nail health.
  • Nail technicians must be educated on medications that can interfere with acrylic product and lacquer product applications.
  • Nail technicians advise clients on issues of dryness, skin cal louses and nail health.
  • Nail technicians typically work scheduled hours each week.

Education/Training Needed

The nail care profession is one that requires not only training, but also certification. You will need to enroll in a program that is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences. Typically classes will include nail theory courses on:

  • sanitation and sterilization,
  • bacteriology,
  • anatomy of the nails, cells, skin, skeletal, muscles, nerves, circulatory 
  • nail diseases and disorders, 
  • skin disease and disorders, 
  • treatment of hands and feet, 
  • spa/salon Business
  • reflexology and
  • professionalism and customer service

Once you have completed the course study that normally includes about 600 hours of instruction, you'll need to prepare for certification and state board licensing.

Then, you can take written and practical exams from the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology to earn your nail technician license. After licensing you'll look for employment that will give you practical experience and training. Employment opportunities for certified, licensed nail technicians include work for:

  • a health or day spa,
  • a freestanding nail salon
  • hotels with onsite services,
  • yourself as a freelance technician with exclusive clients you service on site
  • Or hair salon.

Nail Technician Job Description

As a nail technician you'll perform manicures and pedicures that include shaping and general nail maintenance as well as applying new and creative art pieces on nails.

Wages for Nail Technicians

Starting salaries for nail technicians are about $15,000, but with time and experience can go up to $40,000. The highest potential for careers in the industry is for technicians who get into the "nail art" business or open their own nail salon. Like tattoo arts, nail technicians with special skills in elaborate nail artwork can earn much higher salaries are often paid by the custom-designed job. 

To start your own business, you'll need to apprentice as a technician to build skills and clientele. Then with a business plan and financing you can work toward opening your own business. Technicians interested in one day opening their own salon can benefit from additional courses in business management and accounting, available online or at any local community college.

Prospects for Nail Technician Jobs 

Nail technician jobs are not greatly affected by economic conditions since the service provided is utilized by both the middle class and more wealthy, and not a lavishly priced service. Jobs in the industry have been steadily on the rise and are projected to continue increasing for the next few years.