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Nail Technician

Nail Technician Salary, Schools, Courses, Job Description, Duties

What does a Nail Technician do?

The service a nail technician offers vary considerably. A technician might offer pedicures, polish, French manicures, fiberglass wraps, silk, and acrylics. In some instances, a nail technician may offer additional beauty services outside of the normal services in association with the position: Such services may include one-stop beauty options, skin care, waxing, facials, and other beauty treatments. The services one might find when visiting a nail salon include some or all of the following: Ultraviolet Light (UV) Gel Extensions and Overlays, Fiberglass or Silk Extensions and Overlays, nail art, pedicure treatments, manicure treatments, Acrylic Extensions and Overlays, and a combo Extensions serve to consist of both Acrylic/UV Gel Sculpted Extensions. All services are aimed at beautifying a client’s toenails and or fingernails by tending to them hygienically while making the nails visually appealing. The individual works with the feet and hands exclusively in this profession unless additionally trained in skin care.

Who is a Nail Technician?

A nail technician offers special treatments for toenails, fingernails, feet, and hands. The individual will soak and wash hands and feet, offer treatments that help in softening one’s skin, and will sometimes shape, cut, and beautify the nails. An array of tools is used in the process of treating clients with manicures and pedicures. The tools must be clean and sanitary to ensure the overall safety of the public as well as the client’s hygiene, safety, and satisfaction.

As a nail specialist, one might work in a spa or at a beauty salon where a booth is rented or the individual may go into business for him or herself. If operating a business, the nail technician makes business-oriented decisions, tracks management of the store, takes inventory, and always ensures enough product is on hand to meet the needs of all clients, both new and returning. Some manicurists make house calls and the mobile nail technicians are increasingly popular to date.
In order to become a nail technician, one will require the necessary education and state licensing. The individual will need to earn a degree in cosmetology or to get a nail certificate. Through the process of education, the individual will become familiar with the state mandates regarding equipment sanitation, sanitary practices, body mechanics, and nail physiology.

Nail Technician Job Description

Nail Technician Description

The nail technician job description requires the individual have significant skills in terms of personal service and customer relations as the success of the nail salon business relies heavily on one’s customer base and business appeal. The individual working as a nailist needs to be able to assess a customer’s needs, to provide high quality and amiable services, and to ensure the ultimate satisfaction of the customer.

This job requires the use of near vision skills as the nail tech needs to be able to view the hands and feet within just a few feet from the client. A steady hand ensures the clean and flawless application of the product in question, and both manual and finger dexterity are necessary. The nail technician is expected to work directly with the public and, in doing so, develop long-term business technician/client relationships in order to establish a solid customer base. On occasion, conflict negotiation and problem-solving skills are called upon in order to settle conflicts, grievances, and disputes of all kinds.

The job description of nail technician includes work activities related to the care and maintenance of nail care tools. The nail tech may be required to assess the condition of someone nails and to promote programs, services or products while providing customers with nail care services. Just over 85 percent of the time a person works as a nail technician he or she can expect to be exposed to chemicals.

The nail technician job is one that is primarily indoors or located where there are environmental controls in place. Some equipment the technician will have to learn how to use includes ultraviolet UV sterilizers, tweezers, steam autoclaves, card processing machines, hot air and dry heat sterilizers, cash registers, and airbrushes for creating nail art and designing nails.

Nail Technician Duties and Tasks

  • Talks with customers about services and available treatments
  • Advising customers about the best treatments for a desired end
  • Nail polish removal/application
  • Nail buffing
  • Nail cleaning/shaping and trimming
  • The minimization of rough skin patches and callus reduction
  • Hand/foot moisturizing
  • Nail art application
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of equipment/tools
  • Product knowledge for selling, promotion, and use
  • Salon safety
  • Business management in entrepreneurial positions
  • Undercoat, coloring polish, and top coat applications of polish
  • Inventory ordering and tracking
  • Client information recording
  • Cuticle care and preparation
  • Knowledge and application of health and safety rules
  • Knowledge of product application, including acrylics, French tips, Shellac, gels, and paraffins
  • Knowledge of what’s fashionable and popular styles
  • Nail repair skills

Skills Required

  • Positive attitude, demeanor, and presentation
  • Customer service skills
  • Communication skills
  • Appointment booking and Record Keeping, including the use of scheduling software
  • Business management
  • Administrative tasks including personnel management, accounting, and salon management
  • Creative skills
  • Dexterity
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software
  • Database User Interfaces like DaySmart Software Salon Iris, and Aknaf ADVANTAGE Salon Software and Spa Software
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets
  • Oral Communication
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Service Orientation
  • Active Listening

Working Conditions

Nail Technician Working Condition

The nail technician career is popular with over 113,000 positions filled in 2014, according to most recent studies, of which three out of every ten specialists were working in an entrepreneurial capacity. The typical setting in which one will work is either in a hair salon, spa, or nail salon. The position is relatively sedentary and requires a lot of sitting in chairs. Some nail technicians have mobile companies and go from home to home doing nails and offering nail care services. The job requires exposure to chemicals so it is often necessary to wear protective garments, including masks and gloves.

The position of manicurist/pedicurist can be full or part time and the number of hours worked is often defined by the establishment where one works. If working in a full-service salon a person can expect to work up to 8 hours every day. However, if working in a private boutique where the primary concern is hair care, one can anticipate fewer hours. If self-employed, long hours are a common factor. The nail technician will find the weekend hours the busiest of the week.

Many of the products a nail technician is exposed to contain chemicals. Some of the common chemicals a nail technician encounters during the course of the job include ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, toluene, xylene, dibutyl phthalate, nitrocellulose, toluene sulphonamide formaldehyde resin, titanium dioxide, and others. Nail polish, nail polish removers, artificial nails, nail tips, adhesives, and artificial nail removers all contain chemicals that can prove harmful to an individual’s health.

Nail Technician Salary

Nail Technician Salary

The national average nail technician salary $25,000 annually. The salary will vary highly and is dependent on skill level, experience, training, location, and other factors. Time on the job also influences the answer to a  question like “how much do nail technician make?. Working in the industry entry-level nail technicians who are just starting out tend to make 11 percent less than the national average. Those individuals with one to five years of experience make up to 16 percent more the national average salary, and those with more than 10 to 15 years on the job make up to 22 percent more than the national average. Interestingly, those who have over 20 years of experience end up with about 16 percent more than the national average, which is the same as what one would make during mid-career.

How Much do Nail Technicians Make?

About five percent of all nail technicians surveyed have less than a year experience in the field. About 44 percent have one to four years experience, and another 24 percent have 5 to 9 years experience. Another 21 percent have 10 to 19 years on the job experience, and some seven percent have 20 years or more on the job as a nail technician.

With the national average being about $25,000, this means those at entry level make about $22,000, and those at mid-career make about $29,000, while those in the experienced level of their career achieve around $30,000 a year. There is the noted decline to those in advanced positions of 20 years or more, down to $29,000: This may be due to a lessening of work hours, a less strict schedule, an intentional reduction in clientele, or a societal perception of the technician as less knowledgeable or perhaps less aware of the most current trends in fashion: Even if such biases are both untrue and unspoken.



As per the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary for a nail technician is about $10.01 per hour as of 2015, whereas those in the lowest percentile were making about $8.78 per hour, and those in the higher end of the scale were making as much as $16.32 an hour. The job growth in this sector is 10 percent faster than most with some 11,700 additional jobs in the sector anticipated by 2024. Of those currently working in the field, some 15 percent have medical insurance, 11 percent have dental, 9 percent have vision, and 84 percent are not supplied insurance through employment.

Nail Technician Employment

Nail Technician Employment

As per information shared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the annual reports from 2010 to 2014, the job of nail technician is one with promising growth. The nail technician is one that has demonstrated steady growth through the last five years. In 2010, there were nearly 52,000 jobs, and this number increased by 4,280 positions in just one year’s time; in 2011, there were 56, 270 jobs. The number of jobs continues to increase in 2012, 2013, and 2014, with 6,060, 8,890, and 7,870 positions respectively.


According to a report set forth by the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) entitled “Nail Salon Workers: Health and Safety, Working Conditions, Compensation, and Demographics,” the salon business is one that thrives in the United States and such beauty salons bring in nearly $60 billion a year, and these same businesses employ more than 1.6 million beauty professionals. As a comparison, there are more salon workers and employed cosmetologists than there are lawyers or elementary teachers. Out of all the salons, nail salons represent about $6 billion out of the $60 billion in revenue all beauty salons make: This means nail salons generate about one-tenth of the jobs and revenue in the sector. To date, the report estimates there are some 155,000 people employed in the nail care industry.

Gender Distribution

The Professional Beauty Associations’ report not only explored the jobs and revenue in the nail salon industry, but the demographics associated with such work. According to the report, the demographics revealed indicate that one the majority of salon workers are either Caucasian (39 %) or Vietnamese (41 %), with 10% of nail salon workers being African American and 7% of workers being Hispanic. About 2% of workers are Korean, and the remaining one percent is listed as “other.”  Out of all of the employed nail salon workers, 97 percent of them are female and only three percent are male: This is a striking difference when comparing United States statistics with those from Vietnamese communities where statistics indicate nearly 30 percent of the nail technicians are male. Thus, cultural roles and expectations may play a significant role in the gender discrepancies in US workers.


How to Become a Nail Technician?

Become Nail Technician

The answer to how to become a nail technician is a subject involving the exploration of the type of training a person must fulfill in order to work in a nail salon or as an entrepreneurial nail technician. There are state requirements every person must meet once a training program has been completed. The rules and regulations regarding licensure vary from state to state.

Nail Technician Education Requirements

The most common nail technician education requirements call for the individual to complete a cosmetology course or a nail technician program that is approved by the state of residence. Once the program is completed, which typically involves a set number of hours of course work and on hand/on the job training and experience, the individual will then be required to pass a state exam in order to get a license. This is true of every state except Connecticut in which no licensure is required. There are hundreds of qualifying programs across the United States at this time.

Any applicant looking to gain state licensure for nail technician work must have a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma, and the individual must also be at least 16 years of age. The program one attends must be state approved, and the future technician must take both a written and practical exam in order to receive license proved by an established state board. If the manicure and pedicure services are mobile, a different type of licensure is separate and required. If seeking information on state boards and approved programs, candidates can consult with the American Association of Cosmetology Schools, or the Professional Beauty Association, as well as the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology.

Key skills that will serve a candidate throughout their career include business operation skill, particularly if one plans on operating a salon, and marketing skills, to promote the business. The nail technician must learn how to use and even micromanage tools, including brushes and drills, and the candidate will be most successful if she has excellent customer service skills, manual dexterity, and she is creative.

Nail Technician Colleges

There are many nail technician colleges a candidate can attend. Some are private for-profit schools. The schools may vary in terms of the hours one must complete in order to move on to testing for state licensure. Some of the leading schools to consider include the following:

  1. Marinello Schools of Beauty in Los Angeles, California.
  2. Guy’s Shreveport Academy of Cosmetology in Shreveport, Louisiana.
  3. Nationwide Beauty Academy, Columbus, Ohio
  4. Austin Beauty School of Spa Technology, Albany, New York
  5. Rudy and Kelley Academy of Hair and Nails, Virginia Beach
  6. Gerber’s Akron Beauty School, Akron, Ohio
  7. Rivertown School of Beauty, Columbus, Georgia
  8. Beauty Schools of America, Homestead, Florida
  9. Empire Beauty School, Bloomington, Minnesota
  10. Baldwin Beauty School, Austin Texas

Major Subjects

Coursework in cosmetology work includes a focus on sanitation, disinfection, chemistry, nail disorders, and artificial application, repair, and removal. During this time, the individual is encouraged to build a portfolio where nail applications, repairs, designs, and manicures/pedicures can be displayed. The portfolio can later be used to attract customers and for the purposes of marketing. One will continue education throughout the career by attending seminars, classes, and getting special certifications necessary for special nail care techniques. By continuing one’s education while working as a nail technician, the tech remains relevant in the industry and becomes a professional with an edge on the competition. State requirements indicate how long a course lasts, but each course can be several hundred hours. Additional course focuses include bacteriology, bookkeeping, salon safety, and anatomy.

Nail Technician Specializations

Nail Technician Specialist

Specialty of Nail Technician Instructor: A nail technician may also choose to be a nail instructor in a school where students go to receive training before taking state licensure exams. There are schools offering training as a nail technician instructor. Students who are looking to become trainers learn methods of curriculum development, techniques students use to practice, and how to ready and present demonstrations in the classroom. An instructor will have to learn how to evaluate a student’s hands-on-work, give lectures, and to assess a student’s class and written works. The candidate studying to become a trainer will have to become competent in demonstrations and communications, analyzing student need, designing tests, and organizing classroom materials.

Professional Associations of Nail Technicians

One of the associations of nail technician options a professional has when seeking to be part of a respectable organization is the Professional Beauty Association. The association has been in existence in different forms for more than a century, represented by salons, distributors, vendors, manufacturers, and professionals in the industry. Members of the organization are eligible for special discounts at beauty supply vendors and on products from places like Sally Beauty Supply, and or on industry related subscriptions like the American Salon Magazine. Some members, who pay dues for upper level memberships, become eligible for competition participation and for event entries. The organization offers online webinars, on-demand education tools, and information about scholarships members may qualify for when seeking to further their education.

Famous Nail Technicians

Among famous nail technicians is the famed manicurist Jessica who works with a long list of clientele. Audrea Fulerton has two bases where she works, both in London and Chicago. She has spent over 20 years establishing an impeccable reputation along the Atlantic and has proven herself and award-winning nail technician. Audrea works with celebrities and brand name manufacturers alike. She has worked with British Monarchy as well as “rock royalty,” as she has become a celebrated manicurist and she is also the creative director of her eponymous nail range called Audrea Fulterton Nail Boutique. Fulerton is, without a doubt, in high demand, and has worked with Kylie Minogue, Cate Blanchette, Nigella Lawson, and even Lady Gaga, among other A-Listers. Fulteron has worked with Pantene, Rimmel, Microsoft, Sony, Virgin, Burberry, Samsung, Johnson & Johnson, and more. Her work has appeared on the cover of Elle and Vogue, among others.

Nail Technicians FAQ

 What are some of the important factors a new nail technician, just entering the field, needs to know in order to be successful in the industry?

If working in a salon the candidate doesn’t own, it is important to get to know exactly how the salon operates before agreeing to take a booth on the site. The salon will serve as a front for the nail salon and so, by proxy, the nail technician earns the same reputation as the salon where services are offered. It pays to spend a day or two at a salon, with permission, to see how the place operates, how staff treats customers, and how staff behaves when no one is around. It gives the candidate a chance to get a good feel of the salon’s atmosphere and practices.

 What is the job outlook for nail technicians?

The job outlook is excellent for those seeking a position as a nail technician, where a ten percent growth is expected in the sector between 2014 and 2024. As service options increase, job prospects are also expected to increase. A new demand in services will eventually call for a new influx of specialists in the field focusing on services that are in high demand. One of the more affordable of luxury services, nail manicures will continue to remain

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