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Nail technicians clean, shape, polish, and decorate their clients' fingernails and toenails. Becoming a nail technician—otherwise known as a manicurist or pedicurist—requires completing a state-approved cosmetology program and then passing a licensing exam. Nail treatment is a growing industry that should offer slightly better than average employment opportunities in the years to come.
Nail Technology School Considerations
Anyone contemplating a career as a manicurist/pedicurist should take note of the following:
Salary and Job Outlook
Occupational employment statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that as of May 2012, manicurists and pedicurists earn a median annual wage of $19,220 and a median hourly wage of $9.24. They typically work in a spa or nail salon, often during evenings and weekends. Thirty-seven percent of nail technicians are self-employed.
The BLS estimates that the demand for nail technicians will grow by 17% between 2010 and 2020. The total expected growth rate for all occupations, by comparison, is 14%. A number of factors, including more men seeking nail treatments, nail technicians performing house calls, and an increasing number of nail salons contribute to the good overall job prospects for nail techs.
With the exception of Connecticut, all states require nail technicians to be licensed. Licensing applicants must first complete a state-approved cosmetology program (according to BLS there are 474 such programs nationwide; some high schools also offer training). They must also be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
The minimum number of training hours required for licensing varies by state. Alabama, for example, requires 600 hours while Massachusetts requires only 100 hours. Some states allow prospective nail technicians to meet the requisite training through an apprenticeship program under a licensed mentor. Contact your state cosmetology board to learn more about nail technician apprenticeship and specific licensing requirements.
Nail Technology School Average Costs
- According to the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS), nail tech training programs cost $3,000 to $10,000. Many programs, however, average $1,000 to $5,000 (including tuition, fees, books, and supplies). The actual cost depends on the number of program hours and the curriculum. More expensive programs tend to include business training.
- Initial exam, application, and licensing fees might cost $100 to $200. License renewal is required every 2 years by most states and costs $25 to $100.
- Many schools offer financial aid to students; contact the financial aid department individual schools to find out what is available. AACS member schools offer scholarships and grants.
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