How Do I Become a Manicurist?

Manicurists offer cosmetic nail care to their clients. Learn about the job duties, education and training requirements, licensure, employment outlook and salary information for this career. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties of a Manicurist

As a manicurist, you'll be responsible for providing cosmetic nail care to clients. You may find work in a nail salon or beauty salon. When customers come in to have their nails done, you'll sit them down at a prepared station and ask them what exactly they'd like out of their manicures. You'll clean and shape their fingernails with specialized tools and equipment. You'll then sand out the roughness of their fingernails and file them down. If clients request it, you'll also apply polish or decorations on top of clean nails.

Education and Training

Community colleges, for-profit beauty schools and technical schools offer certificate programs for aspiring manicurists and nail technicians. A nail technician certificate program will provide you with theoretical instruction and practical training in nail care. You'll learn the basics of nail care safety, sanitation, nail and skin disorders, bacteriology and anatomy.

Some certificate programs also include courses related to salon management and bookkeeping. While completing clinical training, you'll be expected to practice the techniques for cleaning and filing nails, applying artificial nails, using manicurist products and applying nail art.

Licensure Requirements

All cosmetologists, including manicurists, are required to gain licensure before they can legally begin working in any state. Each state has its own licensure requirements for manicurists. Most require you to be at least 16 years of age and to have a certificate from a state-approved cosmetology school. They also require you to complete a licensing examination before you can work as a manicurist.

Employment and Earnings Information

Manicurists and pedicurists held more than 53,000 jobs across the country in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The median annual salary in the field in that year was just below $20,000. Most manicurists were employed by personal care services, but other settings that employ manicurists include hotels and department stores. Among the top-paying states in the profession in 2009 were Vermont, Oregon and Utah, reports the Bureau.

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