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How Do I Get a License for Nails?

Even if you already rate your manicure and pedicure skills a perfect 10, you'll need to earn your nail license if you are thinking of entering a career as a professional nail technician. You can study for your license for nails as part of a broader cosmetology program, or you can take a quicker and more direct route by enrolling in a specialized nail care school. Either way, you'll have to complete a state-required number of hours in the classroom and in a student salon setting so that you'll have the experience it takes to start pampering clients of your own.

When looking for a nail technician school that's right for you, you'll need to make sure that the program will provide you with enough hours for both classroom instruction and practical application so that you can meet state requirements, which can vary greatly. Some states require only 100 hours of study for your nail license, while others may require upwards of 600 hours.

A general guideline is to study for your nail license in the state in which you intend to live and/or work. It is possible to get a license for nails in another state, in case you move or live near the state border, which will allow for you to work with clients in more than one state, or to live in one state and work in another. However, in this case, you'll need to make sure you have enough hours to cover both state license requirements, as one state might require more hours of instruction than another.

So what exactly will you study as you work towards a state license for nails? For starters, you will become an expert in filing, buffing, and polishing both fingernails and toenails, but as any professional nail technician will tell you, nail care goes far beyond a basic manicure and pedicure. You will also learn state-of-the-art techniques in the ever-changing world of artificial nail treatments, including acrylics and UV gels. Whether your clients prefer short and classic or long and bold, you'll be ready to serve them!

Perhaps one of the main reasons that states require licensure for nail technicians is that salon procedures must maintain a high level of cleanliness and hygiene. For you as a nail technician, this means that all nail files, nail and cuticle clippers, pumice stones, and any other tools that come in direct contact with clients must be sterilized in between uses to avoid bacterial infection. Therefore, hygienic practices are a major part of any reputable nail school, as it protects not only clients, but yourself as well.

After you complete a nail technician program, you'll normally be required to pass a written test and show competency in a practical demonstration of manicure and pedicure techniques. Once your application and proof of competency is submitted to the state licensing agency, you'll be well on your way to starting your career as a professional nail technician.

But a nail technician license alone won't bring immediate success to your beauty career. As many nail techs do, you might choose to study advanced techniques (requiring additional instruction hours) that include hand and foot massage (reflexology), or go back for more education when new gel or acrylic techniques become available on the beauty market. Ask any beauty professional and she or he will tell you how important continuing education can be for launching the career of your dreams.

First, it starts with you. Search for nail schools and see which nail technician program is right for you. Then, enroll and get ready to learn. In as little as a few months' time, you'll be hard at work with your clients, allowing them to show off their perfect 10 or 20 themselves!

Disclaimer: This site is not connected with any government agency or the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid office. If you would like to find more information about government funding please visit: