Everything About A Nail Technician Career

You think about becoming a nail technician but are not entirely sure whether this will be the right career for you or not?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about being a nail technician in the following chapters.

Not only will you learn how much you can make as a nail technician, but we will also talk about work-life balance, job satisfaction, educational requirements, exit options, duties, promotion opportunities and much more.

You will also find an FAQ section at the end of this article where I answer the most common questions about working as a manicurist.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a nail technician or rather want to go for a different job instead.

Without further ado, let’s dive right into it!

Table of Contents

What does a Nail Technician do?

Nail technicians make sure that the nails of their clients look perfectly fine.

Not only will nail technicians cut and clean nails, but they will also paint fingernails and toenails and also make sure that the nails of customers are fine from a hygienic and medical standpoint.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Nail Technician

  • Cleaning nails
  • Cutting nails
  • Shaping nails
  • Painting nails
  • Removing old paint from the fingernails and toenails of customers
  • Making sure that nails are in good hygienic condition
  • Diagnosing medical nail problems
  • Sterilizing nailcare equipment before use
  • Consulting clients on nail colors
  • Cleaning of nailcare stations
  • Complying with rules and regulations related to nailcare

What a Typical Day of a Nail Technician looks like?

Nail technicians usually start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m.

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The first thing they do when they get to work is to make sure that everything is clean and tidy so that hygienic requirements are met and clients feel comfortable visiting the nail salon.

After doing some organizational work, you will welcome your first clients and do everything that is necessary to provide good customer experience and a great end result.

You will have many new clients every day and it is therefore crucial that you are a friendly and outgoing person so that customers feel welcome and will come back to your nail care salon many times in the future.

After working in this style for many hours, you will usually finish your workday between 5 and 7 p.m.

Nail Technician Salary 2021

Nail Technician salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $58,000> $28.92
Top 25 %$47,000 – $52,000$23.45 – $25.88
Bottom 25 %$33,000 – $37,000$16.43 – $18.47
Bottom 10 %$24,000 – $29,000$11.94 – $14.39
Range$24,000 – $69,000$11.94 – $34.48
Average (Mean)$43,000$21.44
Median$41,000$20.49

Nail Technician salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$24,000 – $36,000$11.94 – $17.93
Junior$33,000 – $38,000$16.45 – $18.89
Professional$37,000 – $45,000$18.42 – $22.47
Senior Professional$44,000 – $51,000$21.92 – $25.39
Expert$49,000 – $58,000$24.48 – $28.91
Top Expert$57,000 – $69,000$28.41 – $34.48

Nail Technician salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$39,800$19.89
Alaska$40,600$20.27
Arizona$38,700$19.33
Arkansas$37,400$18.68
California$48,200$24.09
Colorado$42,100$21.03
Connecticut$41,800$20.88
Delaware$41,200$20.57
District of Columbia$44,400$22.18
Florida$43,100$21.54
Georgia$38,600$19.29
Guam$42,700$21.34
Hawaii$44,600$22.28
Idaho$39,900$19.93
Illinois$38,300$19.14
Indiana$40,600$20.27
Iowa$39,800$19.89
Kansas$37,400$18.67
Kentucky$38,500$19.22
Louisiana$43,100$21.58
Maine$42,500$21.23
Maryland$43,800$21.89
Massachusetts$44,700$22.34
Michigan$40,200$20.08
Minnesota$39,800$19.87
Mississippi$36,700$18.32
Missouri$37,300$18.64
Montana$41,600$20.78
Nebraska$39,400$19.69
Nevada$41,900$20.93
New Hampshire$42,700$21.32
New Jersey$45,300$22.64
New Mexico$39,800$19.87
New York$49,800$24.89
North Carolina$39,600$19.77
North Dakota$38,400$19.18
Ohio$41,700$20.83
Oklahoma$43,200$21.59
Oregon$44,100$22.03
Pennsylvania$43,600$21.78
Rhode Island$39,300$19.64
South Carolina$40,500$20.22
South Dakota$42,600$21.28
Tennessee$39,200$19.59
Texas$41,700$20.83
Utah$38,900$19.42
Vermont$39,200$19.59
Virginia$37,800$18.87
Washington$41,500$20.73
West Virginia$40,300$20.12
Wisconsin$38,200$19.08
Wyoming$37,600$18.79

Job Security of Nail Technicians

Nail technicians have pretty poor job security since educational barriers to entry are pretty low and almost everyone can work in this field.

Hence, if someone comes along who is willing to do this job at a lower wage, you may get replaced and may lose your job from one day to the other.

Future Outlook of Nail Technicians

Not only do manicurists have pretty poor job security right now, but also their future outlook will be rather poor since many jobs in this industry may vanish sooner or later since part of the work will be done by machines.

Consequently, competition may become even fiercer and salaries may stay pretty low.

Working Hours of Nail Technicians

Most nail technicians start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 5 and 7 p.m.

Thus, you will not have to work long hours compared to investment bankers or consultants who often have to work until the late evening or even at nighttime.

Consequently, you will have enough time to spend with your family or on your favorite hobbies while many other people don’t have this luxury.

Job Satisfaction of Nail Technicians

Many nail technicians are not happy with their jobs since they suffer from high levels of insecurity and pretty poor working conditions while they are still not able to make good money from what they are doing.

Promotion Opportunities of Nail Technicians

There are barely any promotion opportunities at all for nail technicians and you will often do the same job for many years or even decades without making any progress in your career whatsoever.

Career Levels of Nail Technicians

  • Nail technician intern
  • Junior nail technician
  • Senior nail technician
  • Senior nail technician with personnel responsibilities
  • Manager of a nail salon
  • Owner of a nail salon

Fields and Types of Nail Technicians

  • Nail technician focused on fingernails
  • Nail technician specialized in toenails
  • Nail technician specialized in painting nails
  • Nail technician with expertise in diagnosing nail diseases
  • Nail technician focused on hygienic aspects
  • Nail technician specialized in exotic nail trends
  • Nail technician focused on gel applications
  • Nail technician specialized in polishing nails
  • Nail technician with expertise in paraffin manicure
  • Nail technician focused on nail extensions

Educational Requirements for Nail Technicians

You don’t need any fancy education for becoming a nail technician.

Instead of going to college for many years, you can start your nail technician career right after finishing high school.

How to become a Nail Technician

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a nail technician
  2. Apply for an internship at a local nail salon
  3. Make a good impression during your internship
  4. Stay in touch with your colleagues
  5. Finish high school with decent grades
  6. Appy for nail technician jobs in your area
  7. Master the job interview
  8. Sign your labor contract
  9. Work hard and save money
  10. Start your own nail care salon

Character Traits you need as a Nail Technician

  • Attention to detail helps you get the best possible results
  • You should be willing to work hard to make your customers happy
  • Ability to deal with difficult clients in an emotionally healthy manner
  • Willingness to work in a low-wage environment
  • Willingness to work in a physical manner
  • You should be an open and outgoing person
  • Snarky comments regarding your career choice should not bother you
  • You should be client-oriented
  • Passion for improving the visual appearance of people

Hard Skills for Nail Technicians

  • Good nail painting skills
  • Expertise in doing nail extensions in a proper manner
  • Knowledge of hygienic requirements
  • Expertise in diagnosing nail problems
  • Knowledge of regulatory aspects related to working as a nail technician
  • Knowledge of latest nail trends
  • Ability to deliver outstanding results to stay ahead of the competition
  • You should know how to market your nail salon well
  • Digital skills help you promote your business

Soft Skills for Nail Technicians

  • Good time management skills help you serve many customers
  • Empathy for difficult clients help you maintain a solid customer base
  • Creativity helps to stay ahead of the game
  • You should be customer-focused
  • You should be friendly and outgoing so that clients feel comfortable
  • Good communication skills help you lead a team
  • You should closely listen to the preferences of your customers
  • Passion for improving the looks of people
  • You should be good at dealing with people of all ages

Exit Options for Nail Technicians

There are barely any exit options at all for nail technicians since you will often be pretty specialized in what you are doing and not many other companies in different fields would be willing to employ you.

Hence, before you decide on becoming a nail technician, make sure that this is what you want to do for quite a long time to avoid any issues in this regard.

Nail Technician – Similar Careers

  • Hairdresser
  • Barber
  • Salesperson for nail equipment
  • Photographer focused on nail art
  • Spa assistant
  • Florist
  • Jeweler
  • Painter
  • Pharmacist

Nail Technician Career FAQs

Is working as a nail technician physically demanding?

Working as a nail technician can be physically demanding since you will have to work with your hands all day long and while you will not have to lift heavy things as construction workers or welders have to do on a regular basis, you will still get more exercise at work compared to most people who work in classical office jobs.

Is working as a nail technician mentally demanding?

Working as a nail technician is not heavily mentally demanding since you will do the same things over and over again and after a few years, you will just develop a certain routine that allows you to do your job in a pretty related manner without having to stress your brain that much anymore.

Is it dangerous to work as a nail technician?

Being a nail technician is not dangerous since you will work in a rather safe environment and your risk of suffering from serious accidents at work will be rather low.

How long do nail technicians stay in their jobs?

Nail technicians stay in their jobs for quite a long time since they have serious problems finding a job in a different field due to a lack of hard skills needed in the job market right now in many other industries.

Is it easy for nail technicians to find a new job?

Since nail technicians are pretty replaceable and almost everyone can do this job, it is pretty hard to find a new job in this industry in case you lose your job since competition is pretty fierce and you just may end up unemployed for a quite long time.

Is it hard to switch from being a nail technician to another field of work?

It is pretty hard to make the switch from working as a nail technician to a different field of work since you will often lack the skills to do so and will not find companies who would be willing to employ you in different industries.

Do nail technicians have a high social status?

Nail technicians don’t have a high social status.

While you can make many people happy on a daily basis, many people out there will still belittle what you do for a living and may even make fun of you.

Hence, if you want to have a really high social status, you should not become a nail technician but rather become a dentist or judge instead.

Can you help out your family and friends as a nail technician?

You can help out your loved ones as a nail technician since you can do the nails of your family and friends so that they no longer have to spend money on nail care salons and this also gives you the opportunity to stay in touch with your favorite people on a regular basis.

Can nail technicians work remotely?

Nail technicians are not able to work remotely since they have to be present at their nail salon in person to do their work.

In turn, you as a nail technician will be quite inflexible compared to people who are able to work from home and can manage their private and their professional life at the same time much easier.

Moreover, you will also have to spend more money and time commuting to work and back.

Is it easy to find a partner as a nail technician?

Since nail technicians make pretty poor money and also don’t have good job security, it will be pretty hard for them to find someone for a long-term relationship since they are not considered good providers and people in the dating market may rather go for a financially stabler option instead.

Do nail technicians have to work on weekends?

Nail technicians don’t have to work on weekends.

Instead, you can spend those days making nice weekend trips or just relaxing in your garden or spending them on your favorite hobbies.

Do nail technicians have to work on holidays?

Nail technicians also don’t have to work on holidays.

While waiters and many other people have to work during those times, you will be able to spend your leisure with your favorite people.

Do nail technicians have to work at nighttime?

Nail technicians don’t have to work at nighttime.

Instead, they work in a classical 9 – 5 environment and you as a nail technician will therefore be able to come home from work rather early and will have time to meet up with your favorite people after work.

Do you have to travel as a nail technician?

You don’t have to travel as a nail technician.

While many other people who work in classical office jobs have to travel for business trips and will be away from their families quite often, you as a nail technician can rather spend lots of time with your loved ones at home.

Are nail technician pensions good?

Nail technicians make pretty poor money from what they are doing and also their pensions are pretty poor.

Consequently, since most nail technicians are also not able to save and invest enough money, many of them will also suffer from serious financial problems once they get older and retire.

Are nail technician salaries going up?

Salaries of nail technicians have not been going up substantially over the past years and this trend will most likely also continue in the future since almost everyone can do this job and competition is quite fierce.

In turn, wages will likely stay at a rather low level and you should not expect to be able to make good money from a nail technician career anytime soon.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a nail technician?

While you can make many people happy with your work, you will still not have the same high social impact as teachers or professors who can really influence the thought process of people and make the world a better place.

How long does it take to become a nail technician?

Since you will not have to go to college, you can start your nail technician career right after finishing high school and while many other people have to spend lots of money on education, you can even start making money at a rather young age as a manicurist.

Is it difficult to become a nail technician?

Since you will not need a degree for working as a nail technician, it is also pretty easy to become a manicurist.

However, you still need a certain level of talent and motivation to work in this field to stay happy with what you are doing in the long run.

Do you need to be smart to work as a nail technician?

You don’t need a high IQ for working as a nail technician.

What’s much more important than being smart is that you are focused on customer service and that you are a friendly and outgoing person so that people feel comfortable in your presence and will come back to your nail salon.

Do nail technicians have a good work-life balance?

Nail technicians have pretty decent work-life balance since they don’t have to work in the late evening and also have free weekends and holidays.

In turn, manicurists have enough time to spend with their loved ones or on their favorite hobbies.

Do nail technicians have to work many extra hours?

Nail technicians don’t have to work much overtime.

Instead, you will have a rather rigid schedule and once your shift is over, you will just leave your workplace and get back to work the next morning while financial analysts and many other people will have to meet strict timelines and will have to work many extra hours per day.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a nail technician?

The more experience you get in this field at a rather young age, the better your chances of finding a job in the nail technician industry later.

Hence, you should apply for an internship at a local nail salon while you are still at school to make some contacts that could help you find a job in this industry once you get your high school diploma and are ready to work.

Can nail technicians work part-time?

While you might be able to work part-time as a nail technician in theory, most nail technicians still work full-time since their hourly wages are pretty low and a part-time job would not be enough to make a living from what they are doing.

Do nail technicians work indoors or outdoors?

Nail technicians work indoors and therefore don’t have to worry about adverse weather conditions outdoors while many other people like roofers or garbage collectors have to work outdoors during times of bad weather and will have a pretty hard time at work.

What does the workplace of a nail technician look like?

Nail technicians often work in nail salons and are surrounded by many customers and tools that help them do their work in a proper but yet efficient manner.

Thus, you should be a friendly and communicative person to keep it interesting for customers who come to your nail salon so that they will come back for many years to come.

Do you have to look good for working as a nail technician?

While you don’t need to look good for succeeding as a nail technician, you should still look groomed so that customers are not disgusted by your appearance and will come back to your salon in the future.

Is a nail technician career beneficial for your private life?

Working as a nail technician is not beneficial for your private life since you will not be able to make good money from what you are doing and will also have to deal with lots of insecurity related to your work.

In turn, you may have to worry about those things all day long and may just not get happy with your life in general.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a nail technician?

You don’t need a college degree for becoming a nail technician.

What’s much more important than looking good on paper is that you are customer-focused and friendly so that clients will come back to your salon many times in the future.

Do you need to be certified to work as a nail technician?

You also don’t need to be certified for becoming a nail technician.

In fact, you don’t need any fancy education and are able to start your career as a nail technician right after finishing high school.

How much does it cost to become a nail technician?

Since you will not have to spend money on tuition and other expenses related to college, you can become a nail technician at almost no cost while many of your friends may have to spend ungodly amounts of money on their degrees and may also need student loan debt to finance their education.

Is being a nail technician a good career?

Working as a nail technician cannot be considered a good career since you will not be able to make good money from what you are doing and you will also have to deal with constant insecurity regarding whether you will be able to keep your job or not.

In turn, you will also have to worry quite a lot in your private life and this makes it hard to really enjoy life in the long run.

Is it easy to start your own business as a nail technician?

It is also relatively easy to start your own business as a nail technician since you don’t have to invest lots of money on machines or other equipment as in many other jobs and can also start out as one-man or one-woman shop until you are able to build a solid customer base and can scale from there.

Can nail technicians teach themselves?

Nail technicians are able to teach themselves most things they need for working in this job.

In fact, there are many great free videos out there that show you every aspect of nail care.

Do nail technicians make good money?

Nail technicians don’t make good money at all.

Instead, many nail technicians complain about their poor salaries and are not even able to cover their basic expenses from their full-time jobs.

Is it ever too late to become a nail technician?

While it is never too late to start your career as a nail technician, working as a nail technician still involves some physical work and the older you get, the more likely it will be that your body will no longer work properly and you may no longer be able to work in this industry.

Do nail technicians have to quit their careers early?

Some nail technicians also have to quit their careers early since they are no longer able to work in a physical manner due to spinal issues and may therefore have to work in a different field.

What is the hardest thing about working as a nail technician?

The hardest part about being a nail technician is that you always have to deal with new customers and your customers will have pretty different tastes and preferences.

In turn, you will have a hard time making everyone happy and you will also have to deal with many snarky comments along the way.

Can you provide for your family by working as a nail technician?

Most nail technicians are not able to provide for their families since their salaries are pretty poor.

This is especially true for nail technicians who live in regions where rents are quite high.

In such a case, your spouse will have to work as well to cover your expenses.

Will nail technicians suffer from old-age poverty?

Many nail technicians will suffer from old-age poverty since they are not able to make good money from what they are doing and also their pensions are pretty low.

In turn, many nail technicians are no longer able to pay their bills once they quit their active careers and retire.

Can nail technicians retire early?

Most nail technicians are not able to retire early since they don’t make enough money during their active careers and therefore have to work until they reach retirement age and sometimes even longer to be able to pay their bills.

Do nail technicians get a fixed or variable salary?

While employed nail technicians mostly get a fixed salary, your income will greatly vary over time in case you have your own nail salon and work self-employed.

Can you get rich as a nail technician?

It is impossible to get rich as an employed nail technician.

If you want to make really good money in this industry, you would need to start your own business and scale it as much as possible.

Do nail technicians need a second job?

Many nail technicians need a second job since they are not able to make enough money to even only pay their basic expenses from their day job and have to make money on the side to survive.

Do you get continuous training as a nail technician?

While you will get some training at the beginning of your career, you will no longer get trained once you become more experienced and it will be on you to hone your craft to stay successful as a nail technician in the long run.

Do you get sick pay as a nail technician?

Most nail technicians don’t get sick pay.

Therefore, you should have an emergency fund that you can grow during good times and use during times when you get sick and are no longer able to work and make money.

Do nail technicians have a high level of responsibility?

Nail technicians don’t have a high level of responsibility.

While mistakes on their side may lead to moderate financial damage for the salon they work for, their mistakes will still not have the same impact as the mistakes doctors make that may potentially take away the lives of people.

Can nail technicians work abroad?

Nail technicians are needed all over the world.

However, working conditions and salaries may be quite different from what you are used to at home and you should therefore inform yourself in this regard before you decide to move abroad.

Is it stressful to work as a nail technician?

Working as a nail technician is not that stressful.

While you will have to deal with difficult customers from time to time, you will still not have the same high level of stress at work as financial controllers or other people who have to deal with time pressure and high workloads on a regular basis.

Is it boring to work as a nail technician?

Working as a nail technician may become boring if you are not really passionate about doing nails since you will do the same things over and over again.

In such a case, it would be better for you to work in a job that really fascinates you to stay happy and motivated with what you are doing in the long run.

Is being a nail technician hard?

Working as a nail technician is not that hard.

Even though you will have to deal with difficult customers from time to time, you will mostly have a rather relaxed time at work since you will not have to meet strict timelines and can work without having that much pressure in general.

Are nail technicians at risk of burnout?

Since nail technicians don’t have to deal with high levels of stress at work, they are also not at great risk of burnout and will rather have a high chance to stay mentally healthy in the long run.

Is there a dress code for nail technicians?

There is no official dress code for nail technicians and you can just wear what you feel most comfortable in while many other people who work in fancy office jobs often have to wear conservative suits or dresses.

What kind of nail technicians are paid the most?

The more value you can provide to your customers, the more they are willing to pay for your services and the more money you can make in the long run.

Hence, you should really hone your craft to get better than your competition if you want to make decent money in this field.

What percentage of nail technicians are women?

Around 83% of all nail technicians are women while only 17% are men.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have better chances to find a job as a manicurist as a woman.

It just indicates that more women than men want to work in this field.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a nail technician?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a nail technician.

What’s much more important is that you are customer-oriented and friendly so that people come back to your salon in the long run.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a nail technician?

As long as you work as an employed nail technician, you will often not be personally liable for mistakes.

However, once you start your own business, things become different and you may want to consult a lawyer or get proper insurance in this regard.

Do nail technicians have a high life expectancy?

Nail technicians have decent life expectancy since they have lots of leisure to reload their batteries and also don’t have to deal with lots of stress at work which makes it less likely that they suffer from mental problems in the long run.

Do nail technicians suffer from sleeping problems?

Since nail technicians don’t have to work at nighttime, they are able to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern and will not suffer from sleeping problems related to their jobs that often.

What states are best for working as a nail technician?

Since you will earn pretty poor money across states, you should choose a region where living costs are pretty low so that you are able to make a living from your nail technician career and don’t need to work a second job.

Who do nail technicians work with?

Nail technicians work with many new customers per day.

Consequently, you should have great people skills so that your customers feel comfortable in your presence and will come back to your nail salon for many years in the future.

Is working as a nail technician cool?

Being a nail technician is not considered cool by the general public.

This is especially true for male nail technicians who are often made fun of.

Can you start a side hustle as a nail technician?

Since you will not have to work long hours and will have enough leisure, you will also have time to start a side hustle.

For instance, you could start your own blog or YouTube channel about nail care and build an audience that you could monetize in the future.

Do you have to be creative as a nail technician?

Being creative helps to succeed as a nail technician since only if you are creative, you can set new trends and offer services your competition will not come up with.

Do nail technicians suffer from being overweight?

Since nail technicians get sufficient exercise and burn enough calories at work, most nail technicians don’t suffer from being overweight and are rather fit.

How employable are nail technicians?

Since almost everyone can do this job, nail technicians are not that employable since they are replaceable pretty easily and once you lose your job, it may be hard for you to find a new job as a nail technician.

Are nail technicians happy with their jobs?

Most nail technicians are not happy with their jobs since they are not able to make good money from what they are doing and also have to fear losing their jobs on a regular basis.

Is working as a nail technician exciting?

Working as a nail technician is not that exciting since you will do similar things over and over again and you may get pretty unmotivated and bored with what you are doing in the long run.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a nail technician?

Your positive impact on our environment will be rather limited as a nail technician since you will mainly care about the looks of people and will not care about what’s good for our planet.

What are the pros and cons of working as a nail technician?

If you still want to become a nail technician, make sure to also have a look at additional pros and cons of a nail technician career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/276850/nail-technicians-in-the-united-states/

https://www.statista.com/topics/4624/nail-salons-in-the-us/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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