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In order to become a nail technician in the United States, there are certain requirements that you need to meet. One of the most important requirements that you need to have in order to even apply to take the nail technician exam is the credit hour qualification. Each state has their own established number of hours that all applicants must have in order to meet the education requirement necessary to obtain a nail tech license. Additionally, most states also have an age requirement and a previous education requirement as well. Typically, a manicurist applicant must be at least 16 years old, and he or she must already have a high school diploma or a GED in order to enter into manicurist school. If you do not meet these three requirements, you will not be allowed to partake in nail technician training and you will not be given the chance to take the necessary test. But once you do meet the qualifications, you can finally enroll in the classes necessary to become a professional nail technician in your state of residence. The only other thing to keep in mind is that some states do not give nail techs specific nail licenses. Instead, they issue specialty nail registrations, and the specialty that you obtain is based on the amount of hours completed. For instance, there are often two credit hour requirements, one longer hours requirement for the full specialty manicurist license, and the other for a limited credential. In any case, you can find a nearby specialty program in your area by visiting the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences website.

Pre-Requisites for Nail Technician Education

The good news about the nail technician requirements when it comes to education is that they are very simple to understand and to complete. The first prerequisite that you must meet in order to apply for a nail tech license is the age requirement. You must be at least 16 years of age in order to be considered for a nail license. There is also a previous education requirement that you must meet, which is that every applicant to become a manicurist must at least have a GED or a high school diploma when he or she applies for licensing. Once you meet these qualifications, you will be asked to provide your Social Security Number to your state’s cosmetology board for verification. And then the final step is for you to enroll in courses for nail technicians. Once you have completed the necessary coursework (which is described below), you will be able to submit a cosmetology application and pay your state’s fee for the specialty nail license and take the nail exam, if applicable.

Nail Technician Education Coursework

As mentioned before, manicurists in some states do not need to obtain a specific nail license in order to practice their crafts. However, that does not mean that they cannot obtain an official cosmetologist license to give themselves more career opportunities. If they choose to do so, these nail techs will have to meet their state’s cosmetology license requirements for hours, which can vary from 1,000 (if you live in New York, for instance) to 1,600 hours (if you live in California).

In any case, if you live in a state that requires nail testing, then you must meet the state specific requirements to begin your nail technician career. This means that you will need to meet the credit hour requirement for the specialty, which is typically shorter than what is necessary to obtain a full cosmetology license. The only factor to keep in mind is the importance of state approval. Be sure that the manicure school that you select is approved by your state’s cosmetology board. Otherwise, your credit hours will not be counted toward your nail tech license application and you will have to go back to take state-approved courses. To locate a program near you, all you have to do is visit the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences website.

Nail Technicians On the Job

Only after you have taken the necessary test and completed your manicurist education hours will you be able to find a job as a nail technician in your state of residence. However, this can prove to be a lengthy climb, and one way to make sure that you are prepared once you reach the summit is to practice your profession while you are in nail tech school. The best way to do this is to go through nail technician training as an intern, be it paid or unpaid job experience.

Whether you decide to help out a fellow cosmetologist at a mobile beauty salon or get an internship at a local nail salon, working opportunities can provide you with the experience you need to feel comfortable once you are applying for a full-time job as a licensed nail technician. Furthermore, they also give you the opportunity to begin networking and creating a clientele. All it takes is for you to follow this short list of steps:

  • Create a resume – Be sure to highlight all of your previous education experience and all of the reasons you are a great internship candidate.
  • Consider the various opportunities – Depending on where you live, you may be able to find internships in a variety of settings, and some will be more work than others.
  • Conduct a job search – Go online or visit salons in person. Either way, both options will give you a good idea of the opportunities that are available to you.
  • Get school approval – Be sure that your cosmetology school approves of your internship, because if they don’t, you will not be able to get credit for your participation in the work.
  • Go through your term – Serve your internship with plenty of effort and make connections for when you graduate and are out in the job market.

How to Pay for Nail Technician Education

The last thing to keep in mind when it comes to nail technician courses is cost. Obviously, before you make any big decision, it is important to consider how much it is going to cost you in the short term, and the in long run. And when it comes to nail tech tuition, the cost varies greatly from $3,000 to $5,000 for certain schools, and from $6,000 to $9,000 for other programs, depending on the credit hours offered by the program and the school’s location.

Fortunately, no matter what the cost of your desired nail tech school, there are ways that you can save money on tuition. First of all, you can apply for nail technician scholarships, which are available all throughout the country for applicants like yourself who want a career as a manicurist, but maybe do not have the funds necessary to enroll in proper education. Another option that you have if you are getting ready to enroll in various nail technician courses is to apply for nail technician school financial aid. Both of these methods are excellent ways to lower the cost of nail tech school, no matter what state you live in. The only thing you have to do is make sure that the school you attend is approved by your state’s cosmetology board. Otherwise, the credit hours that you complete at the institution will not count towards a nail license in your state, and you will have to take the necessary nail technician courses all over again in an approved facility. But if you are ever worried about whether paying for the program is worth it, keep in mind that the $20,000 annual salary of a professional nail technician is your reward for completing school and getting your license.

The final thing that you should do when considering a nail tech school is to ask yourself a variety of questions:

  • How much does nail school cost?
  • What’s my school’s policy on financial aid?
  • Will I be able to apply for a nail tech scholarship through my school?
  • How long will it take me to pay off my student loans from nail technician school?
  • What is the usual interest rate for a student loan in nail school?
  • Will I be able to support myself as a nail technician?
  • Will I be able to pay off my student loans as well?

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, in order to obtain the proper certification as a nail technician, you are required to enroll in and graduate from an accredited school of cosmetology.
The number of required hours completed in school varies based on the state in which you reside in and the type of nail license you’re applying for.
In order to become a licensed nail technician, you must attend an accredited cosmetology school and receive a nail license. Depending on which state you reside in, there may be different kinds of nail licenses available that determine the size of the clientele you can work with.
The age requirement in order to be eligible to enroll in a cosmetology school to obtain a nail license varies in each state.
Each state offers a wide range of accredited programs or nail tech schools you can enroll to in order to receive a nail license. is a privately owned website that is not affiliated with any government agencies.