National Avg. Salary

$23,630 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

10.3% More Growth Data →

Recommended Degree

Certification Programs & Degrees →

Attributes

  • Flexible Hours
  • Good Money From Tips
  • Skill-Based Work
  • Work With Your Hands

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Nail technicians perform manicures and pedicures and typically work in nail salons or spas. They clean and massage hands and feet, cut and file nails into desired shapes, apply artificial nails, and apply and remove fingernail polish. They may also earn commissions on sales of nail care products and polishes.

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Job Description

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in nail technician roles:

  • Perform manicures and pedicures
  • Clean and soaks hands and feet to make them supple for cuticle shaping and callous removal
  • Trim and file fingernails and toenails
  • Apply nail polish to fingernails and toenails, or put on and paint artificial nails
  • Sell nail care products and nail polishes to clients

A Day in the Life

Nail technicians—also known as manicurists and pedicurists—perform manicures and pedicures for clients. When clients arrive, the nail technician converses with clients to determine what services the client wants to have performed. Then, the nail technician gets to work performing those services. Nail technicians may be paid hourly—depending on employer—but the bulk of their income usually comes from tips and commissions on product sales, so it’s important to provide excellent customer service.

When performing a manicure, the nail technician may seek to make the client’s natural fingernails look good, or he/she may work to apply artificial nails on the client. The nail technician starts by soaking and cleaning the client’s hands and nails, and then applies lotion, often massaging hands in the process. Next, the nail technician uses a special cuticle tool to push overgrown cuticles back. Finally, the nail technician cuts nails, files them into shape, and either paints natural nails or applies and paints fake nails.

When performing manicures, the nail technician begins by soaking the client’s feet in warm water or a foot spa. This helps clean feet and make them supple so that callouses and other rough spots on feet can be removed. To remove these, the technician files feet using a special foot filing tool. Next, the technician pushes cuticles back, trims toenails, files toenails into shape, and applies nail polish. The nail technician may also apply lotion to feet and massage feet and lower legs in the process.

Typical Work Schedule

Nail technicians may work either full-time or part-time. While some nail technicians may work day shift during the work week, most work second shift in the evening and on weekends as these are the busiest times for nail salons and spas. Their working schedules can vary greatly by employer.

Projected Job Growth

Demand for nail technicians is expected to grow in the coming decade due to nail salons making the process more convenient for clients. Where manicures and pedicures used to take an hour or more and required visiting a salon, many nail technicians are now offering shorter sessions—called mini manis—and mobile services, traveling to clients’ homes to perform manicures. The increased convenience is driving more people to utilize nail technician services, increasing demand for the position.

Typical Employers

Most nail technicians are employed by nail salons, spas, and hair salons. Some are also self-employed and own their own nail salons or offer traveling nail services as part of a mobile manicure business.

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Nail Technician Salary Data

We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Annual Salary

Low Range

$19,070

Average

$23,630

High Range

$33,940

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$9/hr

Average

$11/hr

High Range

$16/hr

How do Nail Technician salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Nail Technician's can make an average annual salary of $23,630, or $11 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $19,070 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #785 Nationally for All Careers

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How To Become

The first step in becoming a nail technician is to enroll in a cosmetology or nail technician program. The only prerequisite for these programs is a high school diploma, so aspiring nail technicians can begin their education and training as soon as they graduate from high school. When choosing a program, look for those that offer specializations in nail care. Some will be more focused on hair cutting and styling, so in order to get the proper training, you’ll need to make sure you can take specialized nail tech courses.

In the past, it was possible to become a nail technician by working through an apprenticeship program under an experienced nail technician. However, almost all states now require nail technicians to be licensed to work in the field. Getting licensed requires completion of a cosmetology or nail technician program and passing written and practical exams. When choosing a trade school, look for those that assist with the testing and licensing process after graduation to help with certification and licensure.

After completing school and earning a license, you should be able to find work in the field. Browse online classifieds and visit nail salons to find out who is accepting applications. Initially, you’ll probably need to work in a nail salon and gain some experience before you can find work in a spa or more luxury establishment. Additionally, if you’re considering self-employment, it can be helpful to take business and marketing classes at a local college to learn how to attract new clients and run a business.


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Quick Summary

  • Recommended Min. Degree

    Certification

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Nail Technician. a Certification is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Nail Technician

  • 0.4%   Doctorate
  • 1.1%   Masters
  • 8.6%   Bachelors
  • 8.3%   Associates
  • 21.9%   College
  • 36.8%   High School
  • 23%   Less than High School

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Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

113,600

2024 Est. Jobs

125,300

Job Growth Rate

10.3%

Est. New Jobs

11,700

How does Nail Technician job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 11,700 jobs for a total of 125,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #184 Nationally for All Careers

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What Companies Employ The Most Nail Technicians

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Personal care services 76,700 8,200 8%
Self-employed workers 34,300 3,300 3%
Fitness and recreational sports centers 700 --- 0%

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