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Nail Technician Courses, Certification & Licensing

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This article intends to give aspiring nail technicians a rundown on how to get into this profession and be successful in it. The beauty industry has never had it so good. Everyone, regardless of their age, wants to look their best. Until a couple of decades ago, beauty services were largely synonymous with hair styling and coloring. Specialized cosmetology services like skin treatments, manicuring, pedicuring etc. though existed were the exclusive preserve of the rich and famous. Not so anymore. Today, looking good is considered a prerequisite for professional success and being socially acceptable. With this changed outlook has come about an increased demand for grooming services. This increased demand has naturally led to the beauty services industry’s evolution into one of high professionalism and multiple specializations. The Occupational Outlook Handbook says that there were 670,000 barbers (including cosmetologists and hairstylists), 60,000 manicursits and pedicurists (together called nail technicians), 30,000 skin care specialists and 25,000 shampooers in 2005. The number will clearly be much higher today.

Who is a nail technician?

Nail technicians are specialized professionals who cut, file, polish and decorate nails to make the feet and hands look attractive. They groom cuticles and apply cream to hands and feet. They are also skilled in fixing artificial nails and at

nail technician courses

nail technician career - quick facts

nail art. Nail technicians are also called manicurists, pedicurists, nail artists or nail sculpturists. Nail technicians’ services are becoming more and more in demand due to the factors outlined earlier. This is an attractive career option for those who have a passion for grooming people.


Nail technicians work at a manicurist table across from their clients. Their work kit includes finger bowls, heaters, wet sanitizer containers, alcohol, nail sticks and files, cuticle instruments, emery boards and buffers, tweezers, nail polishes and removers, abrasives, creams and oils, and nail dryers.

How to become a nail technician?

Most states now require a license (or certification) for nail technicians. A fee is charged for taking the licensing examination and another for issuing the license on clearing the exam. Exams typically include both written and practical components. Many states now offer special nail technician licenses (sometimes called limited certificates). These require anywhere from 100 to 500 hours of schooling in an accredited nail or cosmetology school. In states where no limited certificates are issued, a student must take the longer path of attending a cosmetology school, become a licensed cosmetologist and then specialize in nail technology. Recirprocity agreements do exist between some states that allow nail technicians from one state to work in another with the same license.

Nail technician courses

Many states require nail technicians to be high school graduates, although some require only an eighth or tenth-grade education. If you are interested in becoming a nail technician it is advisable to attend health and anatomy classes in high school. These will give you a basis for understanding skin and nail conditions. Additionally, you may consider taking business classes and learn how to successfully run a business because many nail technicians eventually become self-employed. Art classes will allow you to work with your hands and get a sense of color and design. Do not forget to take English or communication classes as these will allow you to hone your speaking and writing skills, which you will need to effectively deal with clients.

On completion of high school (or a lesser grade as required by your state), your next step on the path to becoming a nail technician is to attend a cosmetology or nail school. It must be remembered that while specialized nail programs are shorter in duration than cosmetology programs, some states require that the nail technician course work must be completed as part of a full cosmetology program. Typically nail technology programs can be of 100 to 500 hours depending on the state. When the required course work has been completed, the student must pass an examination that usually includes written and practical tests. A health certificate too is sometimes required.

Aspiring nail technicians are advised to make sure that the school you attend will satisfy the licensing requirements of the state where you hope to work. As a first step, find out all schools offering nail technician programs in your area. You can often contact these schools online and request for a callback. Make a short-list of schools that satisfy your requirements and make an appointment with each for a visit. You should tour the facility, observe classes and discuss with instructors.
Leave no stone unturned in your search for the right school as it is your valuable time and money at stake. This will help you launch a successful career in your chosen profession.

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