Manicurist Careers

Personal appearance workers like cosmetologists specializing in nail services continue to be in demand in many salons and spas. This is because customers are also increasing primarily because of current nail enhancement trends on social media, such as extensions and art. 

With the growing market in nail salons, established nail service businesses are also keeping up with salary offers. This explains why many aspiring nail technician students aim to finish their course and get licensed. Students who want to be part of the leading salon brands should have an active license and a bit of experience.      

So, to guide you on how you can start your manicurist career, let’s talk about what the profession is, the services it provides, the skills you’ll learn, and the opportunities you’ll have after completing a nail technology course. 

What Is a Manicurist?

A manicurist is a nail technician who focuses on cleaning and improving fingernails and the skin of the hands. Their basic process in providing manicure services is softening and moisturizing the hands by soaking them with melted wax and applying lotions with a light massage. Once the hands are conditioned for a manicure, a manicurist starts to clean, trim, shape, and polish the fingernails.  

Customers will have to decide what type of manicure they like. Some will choose the simplest ones, while others prefer having nail extensions for visual appeal. Depending on the skills and experience of a manicurist, a manicure can take 30 minutes to more than an hour to finish.  

What Services Do Manicurists Provide?

A professional manicurist doesn’t only clean and improve fingernails, but they also provide other services that help customers achieve the best results. Their responsibilities include:

  • Cleaning, filing, and trimming nails
  • Applying and removing nail polish
  • Adding and removing nail extensions
  • Creating nail art
  • Moisturizing and softening the hands
  • Customer service and nail product promotion
  • Cleaning and sterilizing of tools and equipment 
  • Disinfecting the workplace

Let’s discuss each service in detail to give you a better understanding of what a manicurist is expected to do.

Cleaning Nails

Cleaning fingernails is the basic and most important step in enhancing nails as it prepares the nails for the next steps of the manicure. A manicurist then removes cuticles, hangnails, and hard skin around the fingernails. 

Not only that, they also trim and shape the nails based on customers’ preferences. With the help of a nail file, fingertips will have smooth edges, and the desired shape can be achieved.    

The basic tools that manicurists use may include:

  • Nail cutter to trim nails
  • Nipper to cut hangnails
  • Nail brush to remove nail or cuticle debris
  • Nail file to smoothen and shape nails
  • Cotton balls for product application
  • Nail polish to color or shine nails 

Applying and Removing Nail Polish

Even a basic manicure requires nail polish as the finishing step to shine and make the nails look more presentable. Clear or flesh-colored polish is typically used for simple manicures, such as the French and American. 

During the nail polish application, the manicurist ensures that the product creates a smooth texture and doesn’t produce bubbles when applied. They are able to avoid messy nail polish applications effectively and are quick to paint nails. 

Removing the polish is commonly done using acetone or an electric nail file. For regular nail polish, wiping the nails with acetone effectively removes it. However, for gel polish and acrylics, using an electric nail file is recommended as these fake nails are more challenging to remove. 

Adding and Removing Nail Extensions

Nail extensions come in gel, acrylic, or dip powder systems. They add more appeal, elegance, and artistry to the nails, but placing and removing them are a little bit challenging and time-consuming. Gel and acrylic extensions are placed on top of the natural nails and shaped based on customers’ preferences.

The dip powder system also uses fake nails pasted on the natural ones. The artificial nails are then filed and shaped before being dipped into the color powder. When it comes to removing these fake nails, customers are advised to visit the nail salon again, so a manicurist can safely remove them. 

Creating Nail Art

Nail art is a technique of painting nails with creative patterns and designs for visual appeal. As a manicurist, it’s ideal for a nail art service to have creative skills, so they can artistically design fingernails. However, it’s not a prerequisite because you can learn the technique when you study manicure courses.

The key to create great designs is to have the nails clean and shaped before painting them. You can also color and design fake nails if the customers prefer artificial ones.

Moisturizing and Softening the Hands

This is commonly the first step of a manicure service. Moisturizing and softening the hands involves using melted wax, essential oil, or lotion to condition the hands. This makes cleaning the nails and removing hard skin and hangnails easy. 

This stage of the manicure also includes providing a light massage, so customers can feel relaxed while having the service. 

Customer Service and Product Promotion

Not only does a manicurist work on enhancing the hands, but they also provide customer service in the salon. Their support includes:

  • Consultations with customers on what the ideal manicure service is for them
  • Education of customers on the manicure process and what to expect after the service
  • The best nail care practices that customers can do at home

In terms of product promotion, a manicurist tries to endorse the items that the salon offers and uses, such as nail polish or a nail care starter kit. They also promote other nail services that customers might be interested to have in their future visits. Some salons offer a reward or commission for a successful product sale or service.   

Cleaning and Sterilizing of Nail Equipment

Sanitation of tools and equipment used in the salon is equally important as providing manicure services. This process prevents bacteria and viruses from spreading on the tools and the entire facility. Fungal infections passed from a customer to another can also be avoided with clean and sterile equipment. 

A manicurist should know how to sanitize and clean each tool after every use. Proper storage for each piece of equipment is also part of the cleaning process.

Disinfecting the Workplace

Not only do salon staff need to disinfect the tools and equipment but also the entire facility. Sweeping of floors, wiping surfaces with a liquid cleaner, and even spraying a disinfecting solution in the air are a few important cleaning activities in the salon. 

Some places require salons and spas to post sanitary guidelines on their walls, so customers are aware of the cleanliness protocols. The guidelines also serve as a reference for salon staff for sanitation and disinfection.  

How Do I Become a Manicurist?

Becoming a professional manicurist requires training and a license to successfully land a job or put up a nail salon business. However, requirements for completing the profession may vary by country, so it’s best to check with your state or region regarding the regulations. But here are the common major steps that you might take:

1. Check and Qualify for the Requirements for a Nail Technology Course

Most likely, you will be studying a nail technology course, which covers all nail services including manicure, pedicure, and nail art. The requirements to enroll usually are the accepted minimum age (at least 16-17 years old) and academic qualifications (a high school or General Educational Development diploma). Additional requirements vary by region or state.    

2. Enroll and Complete a Nail Technician Course

A nail technician course also differs by country. Some places will encourage you to start with a beginner’s course that teaches the basics of nail technology, such as nail anatomy, cleaning, polishing, and sanitation. You will then proceed to learning the intermediate level that covers nail art and extensions.

Other courses in some places also teach the business side of nail technology. This is extremely helpful for students who plan to put up their own nail salon business after getting a license.    

3. Pass the Licensure Exam and Get a License

After completing the nail technology course and getting a certificate, you need to take and pass the licensure exam. Having a license increases your chance of getting into established salons and even starting your own business. Just remember to renew your license to avoid legal issues.

What Training Is Available to Become a Manicurist?

The areas of study and skills you’ll learn in studying nail technology depend on the provider and location. However, many courses may offer the following training:

  • Basic nail services (cleaning, trimming, filing, and shaping of nails)
  • Cuticle grooming 
  • Hard skin and hangnail removal
  • Nail polish applications
  • Nail extensions and art
  • Light hand massage
  • Conditioning the hands of the skin (moisturizing and softening with lotion, essential oil, or wax)
  • Tool sanitation and sterilization
  • Workplace disinfection
  • Common nail issues  

What Job Opportunities Are There?

In terms of job opportunities as a manicurist, there is plenty to consider. Here’s a list of the popular career openings you can try:

  • Salons and spas – These are the most popular places you can apply for a job. Beauty salons and spas are everywhere, such as standalone, in malls, vacation resorts, cruise ships, gyms, and airports. 
  • Nail salon owner – If you’re planning to start your own salon right after getting a license, you can do so. Make sure to understand and comply with the requirements issued by your government in putting up a salon business. You can also consult with a business attorney for proper legal guidance.
  • Consulting nail technician – If you’re excellent at providing advice on nails, you can definitely become a consultant. Both customers and nail salon businesses will need your help in guiding them with using the right products, investing in high-quality technologies, and many others. 
  • Instructor – Do you have the passion to teach others? Become a nail technician instructor, and educate students on becoming a successful manicurist! Aside from your license, you might be required by your region or state to study education to formally become an instructor.
  • Mobile manicurist – If traveling and working at the same time are what you’re looking for in your career, a mobile manicurist might be your best option. You can go to places and provide nail services to many clients, while you enjoy your trip. Special occasions like festivals are a great opportunity to serve many clients and earn.  

How Can I Find a Position in Manicure Services?

There are several ways for you to successfully land a job as a manicurist. First is to check with your course provider if they offer job placement assistance. Some nail technician programs have active contacts of many businesses that need manicurists. They can endorse you to these brands for employment. 

You can also do your search online and find the best work setting for you, whether in your area or not. With online research, you can get the contact information, location, job requirements, and salary offers of different businesses. You can also reach out to them via email and other online channels for a scheduled application appointment.

Offline resources are also available. Newspapers, magazines, and even family and friends can give you information on manicurist job openings.

The key to finding the best open position for you is to maximize your resources for job hunting. This way, you can weigh your options better and get hired quickly. 

Okay, So Where Do I Start?

The first thing you should do at this point is to check for available nail technology courses near you or online. Weigh your availability, and decide on whether you want to complete the course full or part time. Just remember that finishing the program requires hands-on activities, so you should be ready for campus visits if you opt for online classes.

You should also be at least 16 or 17 years old and have completed high school to enroll in a nail technician course. Check with your local government for other qualifications for the program.  

So, start researching online or visiting schools near you for any available nail technology course now!