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How Long Does it Take to Become a Nail Tech?

Becoming a nail technician has its privileges, perhaps the biggest one being that it doesn't take too long to actually achieve that goal! Of all of the cosmetology and beauty specialties, becoming a nail technician can be attained in the shortest period of time. That's because you're focused on a very specific set of technical skills, namely manicures, pedicures, and general nail care and nail design techniques. Therefore, most nail technician programs are just a few months long, and are geared toward preparing you to take your state's required licensing exam. Once you are licensed, it's off to work as a nail technician!

Of course, it's not as simple as it sounds. To become a nail technician, you must become well versed in not only the latest polish colors and nail designs, but also in basic nail care, various techniques, strong customer service and communications skills, business smarts, and more. You'll also learn all about the strict guidelines for maintaining a bacteria-free work environment to ensure everyone's health and safety at all times.

Although nail technician programs can be short term in nature, depending on where you live, the requirements for licensing can vary greatly. For instance, in Arizona, you must have 600 classroom hours completed to sit for the exam, while in Ohio, it's only 200 required hours. What remains the same in nearly every state, however, is the need for some training from an accredited nail technician school and the passing of a licensing exam to become a nail tech. Be sure to check with your state's cosmetology/nail licensing board so you sign up for a nail technology course that will be acceptable. In other words, check to make sure it's approved by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences.

Other factors to consider when choosing a nail technology program is its career services and support efforts. Ask about whether job placement is given to students, if there are networking opportunities or events, and if other career-oriented services, such as shadowing local salon owners, are available to help you land your first job.

Once you're working in the field, you'll realize that the most successful nail technicians keep their skills up to date, and stay on top of industry trends. Sometimes, renewing your license will require continuing education credits anyway, but it's also good for your career advancement to take specialized courses to help make your skills more marketable. Some areas to consider include medical pedicures, anti-aging treatments, airbrushing, gel and acrylic application, spa-level nail treatments, and more.

After you become a nail technician, you'll enjoy good job prospects for the next few years, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19 percent growth in job through 2018. Although the average hourly earning for nail technicians is on the low side ($9.23, as per the BLS), that does not include tips, which plays a big role in income. In addition, if you're lucky enough to work in a high-end salon in a major city, or work your way toward having a loyal and steady client roster, your income will reflect that.

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