certified nail technician

How do you become a certified nail technician?

In Fashion Blog, Fashion Trends & Advice by shubham JL

There are few things more relaxing then sitting back and getting pampered with a manicure or pedicure. But for some, this relaxation technique can also turn into a career goal. If you have ever considered becoming a certified nail technician, you need to know the proper steps to succeed.

To become a certified nail technician, you will need to go to an accredited nail technician school (for most states). After the nail tech program is completed, the future technician will need to perform a certain number of training hours. That is a hands-on training that can range in hours. The final step is a written or physical exam; or both.

If you are curious about becoming a certified nail technician, you have come to the right place. This blog will outline what a nail technician does and what is required to become a certified nail technician.

What is a Nail Technician?

Some people may think that nail technicians are glorified nail painters. That simply is not the case. They are responsible for a wide range of tasks while they are on the job. These tasks include:

  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Applying “fake” nails
  • Nail care, including cleaning, filing, and buffing
  • Providing a light massage while moisturizing hands and feet
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Superior customer service and care
  • Sanitizing the workplace and instruments
  • Selling products

Are you still interested? You will be happy to know that there are many advantages to choosing the nail technician field. Some of these advantages include a growing industry, affordable nail tech programs, a flexible work schedule, and the potential to gain returning customers for more money. 

There are downsides to the industry as well. Some of the major disadvantages are that muscle strains may develop over time. You will face exposure to broken skin and possible infections, and you work with harsh chemicals and sharp equipment. Business can also be slow, depending on the shop and time of year, resulting in fewer earnings. 

How Do You Become a Nail Technician?

If you’re ready to take the plunge into the journey of becoming a nail technician, it’s essential to know the steps.

Attend a Nail Technician School

The first step is to attend a certified nail technician school. The good news is that there are literally hundreds of programs across the country and online. Certified Nail Technician Courses Online offer a great way to become a nail technician from the comfort of your home. It’s essential to make sure that the school is certified, though. Otherwise, you may run into some hang-ups when it comes to applying for your certification. 

Nail Technician School Requirements

Every nail technician school will have different requirements. State requirements rather than school regulations mostly impact it. For the most part, a nail technician school will require the following:


● Must be 16 or 18 years old.

● Graduated with a high school diploma or GED.

● Complete the required application.

● Pay any fees that may apply.

● In some cases, an in-person tour and interview are required.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of a nail technician program will vary by state. The price breaks down to the curriculum, location, hours needed in conjunction with state requirements, and what type of school you are attending. There are private schools, for-profit, and established brand institutes. 

Each will have its own cost depending on these factors. However, you should expect to pay a few thousand dollars to attend a nail technician school. Most schools across the country will charge between $2,000 and $5,000 to attend. This includes the program as well as all of the supplies, including textbooks and necessary equipment. 

In some instances, there are scholarships available. It is best to check with the school to see what type of awards they offer. There is also the opportunity of receiving federal student aid to assist you in the program. You will need to access the federal student aid website to see what type of loans, grants, or aid you may be eligible for.

How Long is Schooling?

Almost all schools across the country will have 300 to 600-hour programs. This breaks down to 3 to 9 months. How quickly you are able to complete the program will depend on two factors:

  • The hours the school is open, and
  • How often you are able to attend classes.

Someone who is attending the program full-time will be able to finish in as little as three months. On the other hand, an individual who can only do part-time may end up finishing in 6 months or more. 

Is Cosmetology School Required?

Cosmetology school is focused on hair, but students are required to learn nails, too. With that being said, there may be some confusion. But is cosmetology school required to become a nail technician? The simple answer is no. Cosmetology school is not the same as nail technician schools.

Nail technician programs are solely for learning about nails. There will be no “extras” such as those found in cosmetology school. These extras include skincare, haircutting, hair coloring, and applying makeup. As you can imagine, cosmetology school is much longer and costs a lot more than a nail tech program. 

However, if you are interested in these other aspects of health and beauty, then cosmetology school may be a good option for you. Both will offer an intense and information course that includes instruction and hands-on learning. Both areas of expertise require passing an exam in order to be officially licensed. 

Do You Have to Go to School?

If you have been doing nails as an apprentice for five years, you might wonder if the school is actually necessary. The fact of the matter is, only a handful of states will allow an apprentice to sit for their exam and practical. Most states require the completion of a certified nail technician program in order to become a certified nail technician.

Complete Required Training Hours

After completion of a certified nail technician program, the next step is to perform hands-on training. These are required by law. The number of hours will vary depending on the state. Some states, such as Arizona and Tennessee, require as many as 600 with Alabama expecting the most at 750. 

Other states will require far fewer hours for training. For example, Maine and Ohio only require 200 hours. New York is close to just 250. The school will be able to provide you with the information necessary for the required hours.

During the required training hours, you will be able to get plenty of hands-on experience working with real clients. You will combine theory with practice and perform all of the different subjects you learned in school. This means you will be performing manicures, pedicures, light massages, sanitation, and more.

Take the Exam

Your first two major steps are to attend a certified nail technician school and complete training hours. Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to sit down for your exam. This is the final step before becoming a certified nail technician. 

The exam is known as a National Standard Theory test, otherwise known as a NIC. It can also simply be referred to as a “state board approved” test. There are a few ways a state can test a hopeful student to become a nail technician:

  •    A written exam,
  •    A practical exam,
  •    Or both.

It solely depends on the state in which you are applying for the exam. The score that is necessary to pass will also vary between states. It is important to check with your school and state website to find out what exactly is required. You can find this information by visiting NACAMS.

Some states will require an additional completion of an HIV/AIDS course before becoming certified. 

What Happens During an Exam?

The written exam will assess the following subjects:

  •  Scientific Concepts. This includes infection control, safety procedures, basic anatomy, nail anatomy, basic chemistry, and product function.
  •  Nail Technology Procedures. This area will cover general client procedures, nail equipment, and implements, service preparation, manicure and pedicure service, massage movements, and nail enhancement.

The practical exam will assess the following services:

  •    Setup
  •    Client Protection
  •    Nail Wrap
  •    Nail Tip
  •    Sculptured Nail
  •    Polished Nail

How to Prepare for the Nail Technician Exams

If you have reached this point in your journey and aren’t entirely confident, you’re not alone. Taking an exam always brings about some type of anxiousness and nervousness. To help ease these fears and anxiety, you might want to consider preparing before taking the exam.

The best way to prepare for a nail tech exam is to watch videos and seek out nail tech study guides specifically designed for the nail tech examination. Practice exams can be found at some schools. Make sure to ask your administrator if they provide any practice tests or study guides. 

Is Nail Technician Business Insurance Necessary?

You may hear the term “nail technician business insurance” soon after acquiring your license. Is this necessary, though? While it is not an actual requirement, it is still recommended to have. This is because nail technician business insurance will cover you in the event that something goes haywire. It can also help you if you are seeking to start your own nail technician business because it shows professionalism. In addition, with a nail technician business insurance you are more likely to be hired in a salon as they will have less to worry about.

Renew Your License

When you have successfully passed the required examination for your test, you will officially be a certified nail technician. But the journey does not stop there. You still have to remember to renew your license. Some states will require renewal every 12 months. Others will extend to 2 or 3 years. The state board will send out a reminder when your license is due to expire.

Keep in mind that renewing your license is important. It is illegal to work as a nail tech when your license is expired. If you wait too long in between renewals, you may be asked to take the exam again. 

Acquire More Training and Certificates

The great thing about becoming a nail technician is you can always improve your skill. There are plenty of advanced training courses to help you enhance your knowledge and become an even more sought-after nail technician. 

With a higher skill set under your belt, you can up your prices and gain more clients. With that being said, it’s a good idea to acquire additional training and certificates. This will allow you to make more money in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a certified nail technician breaks down into three simple steps – attend a certified nail tech program, finish the required training hours, and pass an exam. Keep in mind the requirements of your specific state, as each state will require a different amount of training hours.