How to Become a Nail Technician

A nail technician has the opportunity to work in several different settings and meet all sorts of people. Plus, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for manicurists and pedicurists are on the rise and expected to grow 13% by 2026 – much higher than the 7% average of other careers.

In most states, you’ll need to be at least 16 years old and possess a high school diploma or GED in order to become a nail tech. From there, you’ll need to complete a nail technician program or apprenticeship and pass an exam to obtain licensure. You can usually complete the program under a year, and sometimes in as little as a couple of months. Nail technicians must be licensed to practice legally in almost all 50 states; Connecticut is currently the only exception to this rule, but recent legislation will require the state Department of Public Health to start issuing licenses, beginning October 1, 2020.

What Does a Nail Tech Do?

Nail technicians perform a variety of nail care and design services. Beyond nail skills, technicians also have knowledge about chemicals and products, safety and sanitation, sales, and customer service. Manicurists and pedicurists typically work in a nail salon or spa, but there are a host of other places they can work, too.

Typical nail technician job responsibilities include:

Primary Duties

Nail applications
Cleaning, trimming, and filing nails
Polishing or buffing nails
Moisturizing hands and feet, and providing light massage
Additional Tasks

Steps to Become a Nail Technician

Nail technicians need to complete the following three steps to legally work in the field:

Apply to a nail technician program.
Complete a nail technician program.
Pass the required exam and obtain licensure.
Once you’re in the field, you may need to take continuing education (CE) classes to maintain your license. Depending on your state, your license may expire yearly, every two years, or a different time frame altogether. Each state also has different requirements for continuing education units (CEUs). These classes may focus on advanced nail techniques or state laws, for example, and you can sometimes complete them online.

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