Nail Technician Job Duties and Employment Options

The nail treatment business is a steadily growing sector of the cosmetology industry. Nail technicians may work for salons or spas and perform various duties, from simple nail trimming and buffing to applications of artificial nail systems.

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Nail Technician Job Duties

A nail technician, also known as a manicurist or pedicurist, helps clients to improve their appearance. Their main duties include giving manicures and pedicures. Some nail technicians may also provide expanded services such as the application and removal of various types of artificial nail systems, including acrylic nails, porcelain nails, silk nails, fiberglass nails and nail art.

Educational Requirements for Nail Technicians

Aspiring nail technicians must complete a training program consisting of coursework and completion of a designated number of hours. Students learn nail technology, business and salon management, regulatory and tax laws, infection control and sanitation, diseases of the nails and skin, basic manicuring and artificial nail techniques. They also obtain on-the-job training by working in industry settings and performing nail procedures on live clients. In addition, they may take courses that help prepare them for state licensure exams.

Licensure

All states have licensing laws for nail technicians and require prospective nail technicians to complete a certain number of hours of schooling and training. Although some specialty care workers may complete associate's degree programs, nail technicians may only be required to complete diploma or certificate programs to become licensed within a state.

Licensing ensures that nail technicians have the skills to work in the field and are aware of state laws and sanitation regulations. To obtain licensure, candidates must pass a written test and, possibly, a practical skills exam.

Employment Options for Nail Technicians

Licensed nail technicians may find work in nail salons, beauty salons, personal care establishments and hotels. Many of these workers are also self-employed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 81,700 manicurists and pedicurists employed in the United States as of 2010 (www.bls.gov).

The BLS projected that employment growth for the 2012-2022 decade would be 16% for manicurists and pedicurists, which is about as fast as the average for all jobs. The BLS also noted that nail technicians with previous experience and a license to provide a range of services would enjoy the best opportunities, but that competition would be strong for high-paying positions.

Salary Information

As of May 2012, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for manicures and pedicurists was $19,220, or $9.24 per hour. The lowest 10% earned $8.00 per hour or less, whereas the highest 10% of nail technicians earned $14.21 hourly or more. Although most nail technicians are employed full-time, many work part-time, so these earnings may be supplemented by other wages.

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