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Nail Technician Certification Program Overviews

Students who complete the nail technician certificate program often work for beauty salons or go into business for themselves. Certification is voluntary, but licensure is required to work in the field. Read about the curriculum and common prerequisites of these programs, and look at the average job growth for nail technicians.

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Essential Information

A nail technician certificate program is usually offered by a cosmetology school or a community college and can be completed in about one semester. Aside from a high school education, prospective students may need to meet age requirements. Applicants often gain practical, hands-on experience in a salon-style setting.

In addition to teaching manicure and pedicure techniques, this program helps students develop the communication and interpersonal skills needed in this profession. Students also learn about the laws and regulations that govern nail technicians in the state in which they plan to work. Other topics covered include sanitation, workplace safety and skin care as well as nail care, disorders and diseases. There is no certification required for these programs, but nail technicians need to secure state licensure.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants are typically required to have completed high school or earned a GED. In addition, most schools require that applicants be at least 16 years old before enrolling.

Course Topics

The curriculum includes lectures, lab studies and working with models in preparation for hands-on work in a real-time salon setting. Topics of study may include:

  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Artificial nails
  • Salon management
  • Advanced nail care
  • Cosmetology practices

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the increase in the number of nail salons and full-services spas would contribute to nail technicians having a faster than average employment growth (www.bls.gov). Employment of nail technicians was expected to grow by 19% between 2008 and 2018, stated the bureau. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary of a nail technician was $19,650 as of May 2010.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

Although certification is not required for nail technicians, state licensure is a requirement before nail technicians can begin work. Licensing regulations differ by state, but most states require that applicants complete a state-approved cosmetology program and pass an examination. The examination usually consists of a practical component and written test.

According to reports by the BLS, the best employment opportunities would be for workers with training in more than one specialty. Graduates of nail technician programs may choose to pursue further training in other areas of personal appearance or may pursue associate's degree programs in cosmetology.

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  • School locations:
    • Puerto Rico (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at D'Mart Institute include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Aesthetician and Skin Care
        • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
        • Hair Design
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
        • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (3 campuses)
    • Maryland (1 campus)
    • Pennsylvania (16)
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    Areas of study you may find at Empire Beauty School include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • School locations:
    • Missouri (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vatterott College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Aesthetician and Skin Care
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at American Career College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Cosmetology, Hair, and Nail Instructor
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • School locations:
    • New Jersey (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Concorde School of Hair Design include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Aesthetician and Skin Care
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
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      • Industrial Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Petroleum Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Math
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
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      • Environmental Engineering
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      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Engineering Physics
      • Math
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering

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