How To Become a Nail Tech

By Jamie Fabel •  Updated: December 11, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Trade & Vocational
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If you enjoy creating nail art and have perfected the finished manicure, why not turn it into a career? Getting a nail tech certification is easier than you may think. Why not do something you love for a living and become a nail technician?

To become a nail technician, you must complete the right training. Every state is a bit different. Make sure you check the specific licensing requirements in your state. As you scroll down, you will see some helpful skills and what being a certified nail technician entails.

How To Become a Nail Tech

Helpful Skills for Nail Technicians

If you want to become a great nail tech, having these skills will help you build your clientele. This career is built on your relationship with your clients, and having the following skills/attributes will help you grow your business as a successful nail technician.

With these skills, you will be able to advance your career as a certified nail tech.

Job Duties of a Nail Tech

As a certified nail technician, you will provide many services for your clients. Here are a few things you will do on a daily bases:

Keep your work environment clean and sterile · Offer acrylic nails, dipped nails, or gel nail polish application · Offer massage treatments as a part of a manicure or pedicure · Promote yourself and develop clientele · Provide manicures and pedicures · Provide nail care and other treatments

How To Become a Certified Nail Tech in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Complete High School

You will need a high school diploma or get your GED to become a nail technician. This is an important step as it will allow you to enroll in a cosmetology school and get a cosmetology license.

Some high schools will even offer cosmetology programs to help you along the way. For example, if you go to a technical high school with a cosmetology program, you can speed up the process of becoming a nail tech by doing the bulk of the work in high school.

Step #2 – Finish a Cosmetology Program

You will find cosmetology programs through technical colleges, community colleges, and cosmetology schools. You will need to complete a certain number of hours depending on what state you need to get certified in. Some courses you will take include cosmetology chemistry, nail disorders, artificial nails, and disinfection and sanitation for your tools and work area.

Some of the other courses you might take include:

While a cosmetology school will help provide you with the skills you need, it’s also a chance to start building your portfolio. You want to take pictures of any work you can and build a portfolio to present at job interviews.

Step #3 – Pass the Licensing Exam

Every state is a bit different; after completing the required number of pre-licensing hours, you must pass a state exam to become a licensed nail technician. In addition, some states will have a written and practical exams. This means you will have to demonstrate your skills and prove your knowledge about sanitation and safety.

Congratulations! Once you have passed the exam, you are now a licensed nail technician!

Step #4 – Maintain Your License

You will need to renew your cosmetology license to keep it active. Every state is slightly different in what they require to maintain an active nail tech license. In addition, you may be required to take some continuing education courses, depending on where you are licensed.

Step #5 – Advance your Career

Many nail techs will move up the ladder when they gain some experience. However, you can also gain more training and become an esthetician or cosmetologist. This allows you to do more in a salon and can help boost your income.

If advancing your career sounds like the right move, then you need to figure out what license or certification is necessary in your state. Then, you will need to fulfill the education requirements through a community college or trade school.

Benefits of Becoming a Nail Tech

There are many benefits to this type of career path. If you love to paint and decorate nails, this is a growing industry with many opportunities. Most training programs are rather quick and affordable, too.

As a nail technician, you get to enjoy being social, have a flexible work schedule, and create amazing art. In addition, you can learn about the beauty industry and even open your own nail salon in the future.

Tools for Nail Technicians

Here are some tools that can help you with your nail technician career or if you want to try some cool nail designs on your own at home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Certified Nail Technician

How much can I earn each year as a nail tech?

A career as a nail technician isn’t known as a high-paying career. The average annual salary is about $29K. However, the salary range can go from about $20K to $36K per year. Some nail technicians make more, especially if they open their own nail salon.

Additional training in other salon and spa services can help you earn more. For example, you may work as a hairstylist and a nail tech or a massage therapist and a nail tech.

While the salary for a nail technician may seem lower, they also end up receiving tips and sometimes bonuses.

How long does it take to become a licensed nail technician?

You can complete your nail tech certificate in about three to nine months. However, most aspiring nail technicians will become licensed in less than one year.

What type of skills are taught in nail tech school?

When you enter a nail technician school, you will learn many different skills. For example, you will learn the skills to give manicures and pedicures to clients properly. You will also learn about nail art and design, gels, massages, career tips, and more.

Top Online Courses for Nail Technicians

Whether you want to increase your knowledge as a nail technician or just want to learn some cool things at home, you can gain skills and learn some tips and tricks through online courses.

  1. Expert Nail Technician Course - Become a SuperStar Nail Tech
  2. Expert Nail Technician Course - Become a SuperStar Nail Tech

    Learn how to do stunning designs, sculpt durable nails and market your nail business!

    Become a Superstar

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  3. Acrylic Nail Technician Course for Beginners
  4. Acrylic Nail Technician Course for Beginners

    Learn How to do Acrylic Nails and Modern Nail Art Designs from an Expert Instructor and Gain the Confidence to Win

    Get Started with Acrylics

    We may earn a small commission if you use this link at no additional cost to you.

  5. Nail technician, acrylic nail courses (by NailAdvisor)
  6. Nail technician, acrylic nail courses (by NailAdvisor)

    Learn how to do stunning acrylic nails, sculpt durable nails and create beautiful nail shapes!

    Learn with NailAdvisor

    We may earn a small commission if you use this link at no additional cost to you.

How many training hours will I need to become a nail tech?

The state you live in and your chosen training program will determine how many training hours you need. For example, some states only require 200 training hours, while others require 750 hours of training. Most will fall somewhere in the middle.

What is the job outlook for nail technicians?

The career of a nail technician is growing and is expected to grow at a rate of about 22% over the next ten years, which is much faster than average!

Is there a minimum age to become a nail tech?

The minimum age to become a nail tech will depend on your state. Some states require you to be at least 18 years of age, while others only require you to be at least 16 years old.

Do I need a degree to become a nail tech?

No. In fact, 98% of nail techs don’t have any type of degree. You will likely need to finish a high school diploma or GED; however, only 2% of nail technicians hold any type of college degree.

Where will I work as a nail tech?

Nail technicians tend to work in many different places. Most commonly, they are found in salons and at spas, but you could even work on a cruise ship.

Some nail technicians go on to be sales representatives, while others work at a beauty school. Thus, there are many job opportunities and different work environments for nail technicians.

What is the cost of becoming a nail technician?

If you want to become a nail tech, you will need to complete the right training program. The cost can vary from one school to another. You will likely pay between $2,400 and $4,300 for tuition.

While the program you choose will have a cost, you will also need to pay an application fee, license fee, and testing fee. Other fees often cost between $300 and $1,500, including your application, books, tools, and supplies.

Jamie Fabel

Jamie Fabel

Hey y'all! I'm Jamie, the Editor at When I'm not homeschooling my four kids or doing the mom thing, I am working to make this site the best version of itself!