5 Steps to Becoming a Licensed Nail Technician
Being a nail technician may seem simple enough, but the job is not as easy as you think. A nail technician needs to gain mastery over a wide variety of skills, including trimming and applying polish to clients’ nails, repairing nails, placing nail extensions, shaping the nails, and caring for the cuticles. In some cases, a nail technician also has to be able to assess the condition of skin on a client’s hands. Being a nail technician has a small degree of artistry to it, too, as technicians apply nail art in the form of miniscule drawings and small appliques on nails.
If that sounds like your dream job, here are the 5 steps that you’ll have to take to become a licensed nail technician. You can use these steps as a guide for mapping out your career.
- Attend and complete a nail technician training program.
Yes, you will have to take and complete a nail technology program to become a nail technician. You’ll need to have a high school diploma or GED and you have to be at least 16 years old.
There are many nail technology programs offered through community colleges, vocational schools, or even private schools of beauty and cosmetology, so you won’t have a shortage of programs to choose from. These programs will teach you technical skills such as manicuring, pedicuring, acrylic and extension application, and treatment of nail and skin disorders. You’ll also learn about safety and sanitation, as well as the general anatomy of hands and feet. More specialized courses will focus on nail art techniques such as wrapping or sculpting.
A certificate course in nail technology can be completed in three months, while an associate’s degree in cosmetology can take a year or two to complete.
- Get a nail technology license.
Most degree or certificate programs for nail technology prepare students to take licensing exams administered by individual states. Requirements for licensure include the completion of an approved training program and a passing grade for the licensing exam. Students will also undergo a practical exam so they can properly demonstrate their skills and knowledge. Certain states also offer reciprocity and accept a license from another state.
- Work as a nail technician.
Now that you’re licensed as a nail technician, you can start working at nail salons, beauty salons, and spas. You can even work at spa facilities in resorts. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics say that employment for nail technicians is expected to grow by 16% from 2012 to 2022, as new nail salons and spas continues to spread across the US.
New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts had the highest employment levels for nail technicians in 2013.
- Grow your network of clients.
Nail technicians can make their jobs more lucrative by gaining more clients and developing a loyal customer base. This is why it’s important that you cultivate skills other than technical skills; communication, creativity, problem solving, and adapting to change are all great skills that can help nail technicians provide better customer service and encourage repeat business. Once you have a sizable network of loyal clients, you can even consider branching out and opening your own salon.
- Explore opportunities for advancement.
When you first obtain your license as a nail technician, you’ll most likely work at an entry-level job, with supervision. As you gain more real-world experience, you’ll move up the ranks, perhaps into a supervisory or managerial role. You may even choose to train in other areas of cosmetology to gain more skills and broaden your expertise. Alternatively, you can share your knowledge and become an instructor for nail technology programs. Whatever you choose to do, what’s important is that you don’t limit yourself and you remain open to opportunities for advancement.