Nail technicians are a growing workforce in the employment industry. In the US, for example, nail technicians are forecasted to grow from 2020-2030, with a 33% increase rate. This is much faster than the average rate for other occupations. Considering this statistic, it’s only expected that newly certified and licensed nail technicians will flood salons, spas, and other businesses for work.
So, if you’re one of the many aspiring nail technicians, landing a job successfully is your ultimate goal. To help you get started, let’s discuss what a nail technician is, its duties and responsibilities, and its available opportunities.
What Is a Nail Technician?
A nail technician is a type of beauty specialist who grooms and enhances people’s fingernails and toenails. They are trained in professional techniques of cleaning, grooming, filing, and extending nails.
Customers can expect their nails to be well-polished, artistically designed, colorful, and chic after the service. A nail technician can even add tiny jewelry to the nails upon a customer’s request.
What Services Do Nail Technicians Provide?
Nail technicians don’t only color and paint fingernails and toenails, but they also do the following major duties:
- Nail extensions
- Nail art
- Cleaning and trimming nails
- Moisturizing people’s hands and feet, with a light massage
To have a better understanding of the services they provide, let’s discuss each briefly.
Nail extensions are artificial nails added to the natural ones. They come in acrylics, UV gel, and a dip system and have various shapes, lengths, and thicknesses. The nail technician ensures to use a nail extension that perfectly matches the shape of each customer’s nails.
Once attached, the nail extensions can be shaped into how the customers want them. Customers also have the preference to request nail art on the extensions and add tiny jewelry to them.
Nail art is a service that paints and colors nails with decorative designs. There is a wide range of nail designs and patterns that nail technicians can master. These range from simple and easy to complex ones. The key to make attractive and clean nail art is to make sure that the nails are shaped and treated before designing them.
A manicure is a fingernail beauty treatment that improves the health, texture, and shape of the nails and enhances the skin in the hand area. It uses waxes, creams, massage techniques, and other products and tools to make the hands and nails visually appealing. This beauty treatment is also a soothing way for customers to relax as the nail technician gives a light hand massage.
If a manicure is a beauty treatment for the hands, a pedicure is for the feet. It involves treating and shaping toenails, softening hard skin, and removing dead skin. The process starts with providing a foot spa to the feet by soaking them in warm water with a soap solution to soften them. The nail technician will then rub an exfoliating cream on the feet to get rid of dead skin. Removing cuticles and shaping toenails can also be a lot easier once the skin is softer.
Cleaning and Trimming Nails
Cleaning and trimming nails are simple processes a nail technician does. These include but are not limited to:
- Using the sharp tip of the cuticle pusher to remove dirt stuck under the nails
- Shaping the nails using a nail cutter based on customers’ preference
- Utilizing a cuticle nipper to cut hangnails and cuticles in tight areas of the nails
The primary aim of these services is to prepare the nails for the next steps of the manicure or pedicure. Not only that, cleaning and trimming are key maintenance activities for the nails. So, for customers who only wish to have clean nails, these services are what they need.
Moisturizing and Softening the Hands and Feet
Moisturizing and softening the skin, nails, and cuticles of the hands and feet significantly help in the removal of hard skin, cuticles, or even hangnails. Foot spa, paraffin wax, and light massage are all part of the first stages of treating people’s nails. Customers will also feel relaxed as nail technicians rub their hands and feet with an exfoliating cream and apply a light massage.
How Do I Become a Nail Technician?
Becoming a nail technician involves three major steps you need to take:
1. Enroll in a Nail Technology Course
Applying to a nail technology course is the first step in your journey. Programs vary depending on the school or licensed organization that offers it, the regulations in your region about nail technology, and the areas of study included.
You also need to consider if you want to take the program on-campus or off-campus. If you prefer the former, check for schools or licensed institutions that offer nail technology in your area.
However, if you prefer the off-campus setup, enrolling in an online course is ideal. Maximize the Internet to check on schools, brands, or licensed institutions that offer the program.
Tip: It’s best to enroll in a school or licensed institution near you to complete the course. Nail technology is hands-on in nature, so you may be required to visit the campus from time to time.
2. Complete the Nail Technology Program
After successfully enrolling in a licensed nail technology program, it’s crucial to complete the entire course, so you can guarantee your certification or diploma. You need to make sure you comply with the required number of class hours, internship, lab work, and other hands-on activities. Most importantly, be ready to spend time to complete the program that may run from three to nine months.
Considering the number of hours required in the program, it’s recommended to enroll in a course that meets your lifestyle. You need to decide on whether you want it to be part time or full time.
3. Pass the Licensure Exam
Passing the licensure exam for nail technology is the last step in your journey. The exam can vary by place though, but usually, it involves written and practical tests. Once you pass the licensure exam, you have the option to apply for a job or continue further education in cosmetology. You might also need to renew your license in a few years, depending on the jurisdictions of your region or state.
What Training Is Available to Become a Nail Technician?
The training varies by country. In Australia, for example, most professional nail technicians complete a Certificate III in Nail Technology. This certification program teaches you the following skillset:
- Nail art
- Nail extension applications
- Proper use of electric nail equipment, like the UV light technology
- Proper sanitation and sterilization for the tools and equipment and disinfection in the entire salon facility
What Job Opportunities Are There?
Career opportunities for a nail technician are not only in salons but also in several work settings. You can even maximize the use of online platforms to build your profile, attract an audience, and eventually earn from these channels.
However, if you want to pursue the traditional way of advancing your nail technician career, you can work in these settings:
- Spa – Spas can be standalone or in a hotel, health center, or gym.
- Doctor’s Office – Working in a podiatrist’s clinic is also an option. You can provide assistance to patients with specific foot issues.
- Becoming an Instructor – If you want to share your knowledge with nail technician students, you can become an instructor. However, additional education might be needed for this role.
- Cruise Ship – Love to travel? Apply as a nail technician on cruise ships! Many of these ships have a beauty services section, and nail services might be offered.
- Airport – Airports may not cross your mind, but some large ones provide nail services. Passengers can have manicures and pedicures while waiting for their flights.
- Home Service – You can start small by doing home service in your community. Your friends will be your first customers, and they will help you advertise your service to others, increasing your customer base.
- Mobile Salon – If you can’t afford to put up a salon business yet, doing it via a mobile service is a great idea. You can conveniently travel to places and offer nail services in public areas like parks and spots outside malls. Offering your service on special occasions like festivals will also help increase awareness of your business as well.
How Can I Find a Position in Nail Technology?
To help you land a job quickly, know if the program you’ve enrolled in offers assistance in finding work openings. Some nail technology programs have a list of contacts of businesses that need your skills or will guide you on how to look for better opportunities.
You can also do your own research online in finding vacant jobs. Online research helps you get the information of the business, such as their contact number and email, working hours, salary offer, and qualifications for the position.
Newspapers are also a good source of checking out job openings for nail technicians. It’s similar to searching for positions online but on a limited search page. Your friends or family members may also know some businesses looking for nail technicians.
If you want to work outside your state or region, it’s crucial to study and understand the place’s law about nail technician jobs. This way, you’ll be guided on what to expect from the position in that particular area.
Okay, So Where Do I Start?
To start, check for available nail technology courses near you or online, enroll in one, get certified, and pass the licensure exam. Once you’re a licensed nail technician, you then need to decide on what you want to do at this point. Doing so helps you know where you’ll start with your career.
If you decide to pursue continuing education in cosmetology, you need to study more and learn the bigger scope in beauty services. However, if you opt to continue being a nail technician and focus on providing nail services only, follow these steps:
1. Know Where You Want to Work
This includes considering the type of work environment you want to have (if it’s a spa, salon, or others), the experience you want to achieve, and the skills you want to develop even further. Doing so helps you get the best work experience that will be your basis in deciding later on where you see yourself in the next few years.
If you choose to try the digital world and market your skills and nail services, start by understanding the ins and outs of the industry, so you know what to expect. You can create tutorial videos on or write blogs about nail art, manicure, pedicure, and others. You must build a channel or website designed for your target market and work on a content plan for your audience.
However, if you want to start with providing a home service first, make sure to document the results for each customer. Take images and videos of your nail service, and post them on your social media channels. This allows others to know about what you offer.
2. Decide on Whether You Want to Work in Your Area or Not
You might want to think about working outside your comfort zone if you want to explore opportunities in other places. This is especially true if you have been interested in working in large and established brands.
However, always consider the regulations about working as a nail technician in the state or region where the brand you’re interested in is located. The area may have different requirements from your region.
3. Contact the Business You’ll be Applying To
Once you have decided on where you want to work, the next step is to reach out to the business you’re interested in. Get their contact information, so you know how you can apply. It’s also helpful to check out their website and social media channels to get familiar with their business.
4. Have Other Options to Apply
You might have been wanting to get into a specific brand, but having other options helps a lot in case the business doesn’t have openings yet. This is true if you want to work outside your state or region. There might be other popular businesses in the same area that are looking for nail technicians. Who knows? You might be the next rockstar employee they’re looking for.
So, use this guide to help you become a licensed nail technician, and work in your dream company!