Nail Tech Feature

Beauty Career Profile: Nail Tech/Manicurist

If you love conversing with people and enjoy working with your hands, a career as a nail tech might be perfect for you. As one of the fastest-growing specialties in the world of cosmetology, a manicurist is a licensed nail technician that performs various services. Manicurists clean, trim, and polish nails. Paint beautiful nail art use acrylic, gel, and other methods. Go beyond the core skillset and learn about cuticle care, calf massage, scrubs, wax dips, and other types of services. Clients come to get a manicure or a pedicures to relax and get pampered, so personal skills go hand in hand with professional training.

Nail technicians can find a variety of jobs fitting their preferred lifestyle. Work at a salon, spa, resort, cruise ship, country club, personal care store, or other retail stores. Or you can always open your own salon. Combining your nail training with business skills and get to work for yourself!

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Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) estimates the job outlook to grow about 10% between 2014 and 2024. This may not sound high but it is still above the national average of 7% for all other occupations. Nails Magazine reported in their 2014-2015 Industry Statistics that money spent of salon services continue to grow. They estimated that over $8 billion was spent on nail care services in that year.

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Make it Happen


To become a licensed nail technician, you will have to complete a minimum amount of hours before you can sit for an exam. Many cosmetology schools offer nail technician courses as a part of their cosmetology curriculum. But there are also schools and programs dedicated specifically to learning about nail techniques. Like most cosmetology jobs, the minimum amount of hours required to sit for the nail tech exam vary from state to state. The national average for becoming a nail tech is about 375 hours.


Even with extensive training, the day-to-day life of a manicurist is hard to navigate — something that becomes easier with experience. Between reviewing your appointment calendar, preparing your station, consulting with your clients, and scheduling next appointments, it can get a little hectic. But with experience and keeping a level head, all that gets easier with time.

Skills & Attributes

Customer Service

A great nail tech will have excellent listening skills and a friendly attitude with clients. You want your customers to feel at ease as soon as they step into the door. Having a pleasant demeanor is a big part of getting repeat clients.

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Marketing Skills

Having these skills will help inspire repeat business and referrals for new clients. Try implementing a referral program that provides some sort of incentive to help generate revenue.


Nail techs can sit when doing manicures but often have to kneel when performing pedicures or other spa services. Being able to work with your hands and having the ability to work in uncomfortable positions will go a long way as your continue your journey as a nail technician.


Some clients will give you to freedom to choose colors and designs for them. Others will bring in photos to base your designs off of or give you a loose idea of what they’re looking for. Either way, being creative and able to give suggestions will help your clients have the best experience.

Salary Potential

The BLS estimates the average salary for manicurists and pedicurists in 2017 is about $20,000 per year. But this doesn’t accurately account for tips and other additional factors. For example, some salons offer commision on product sales or bonuses to those who bring in new business. Your pay can be affected depending on if you work full or part-time, what city your work in and whether you are self-employed.

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Tips & Tricks

Make a statement

The half-moon manicure is the the reverse of a French manicure and is a favorite among celebrities and cosmetologists alike. It’s an easy way to create a statement nail look while still staying subtle and totally glam. First, choose the two polish colors you want. For a dramatic look choose opposing colors or use a bright color for a fun pop. Then follow these steps to create the look:

Step 1: Start with the base coat, using the color that you chose. Allow the polish to dry completely before completing next steps.

Step 2: Apply a stencil sticker in a semicircle shape to the bottom of the nail.

Step 3: Apply two coats of other polish, starting from the stencil and ending at the nail top. Allow to dry completely before peeling off sticker.
Step 4: Finish it off with a top coat and admire your new look.

About the Author

Jeff Chiarelli
Jeff Chiarelli is the Head of Marketing for Ogle School. His responsibilities include leading Ogle School's marketing and branding strategy to amplify Ogle School's passion for helping create future beauty professionals in the communities Ogle School serves.