What Does a Nail Technician Do?

A nail technician has some of the skills of a manicurist, pedicurist, and/or cosmetologist. The nail technician focuses on fingernails and toenails, giving clients manicures and pedicures. All beauty workers, including nail technicians, also perform business record-keeping and are responsible for cleaning and sanitizing their tools and work area. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Nail technicians work with both fingernails and toenails on a cosmetic basis. While some technicians identify as exclusively manicurists or pedicurists, nail techs feel comfortable working with both clients' hands and feet. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), about 86,900 individuals were working as manicurists and pedicurists in 2012, 27% of whom were self-employed. Self-employed techs may have their own salons, work from home, or rent a work space in a salon or spa.

Duties and Responsibilities

Daily tasks undertaken by nail technicians include the preparation for, the completion of, and the clean-up of nail services. Tools of the trade include stainless steel nail clippers, cuticle nippers, cuticle pushers, corn planers, tweezers, and carbide electric nail file bits. Most manicurists are trained in the application, maintenance, and removal of acrylic nails. Nail techs are responsible for the sterilization of their tools before each new client. Almost all manicurists and pedicurists are able to provide some type of light hand and/or foot massage.

Training and Licensing

In order to become a nail technician, one must complete a nail technician or cosmetology program approved by their state of residence. All states, with the exception of Connecticut, additionally require the passage of a licensing exam in order to work as a nail tech. Individuals interested in state licensing exams may refer to the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) as a resource for the exams required by each state, as well as practice questions in order to prepare.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the projected job growth for manicurists and pedicurists was 16% from 2012-2022. The BLS reported the mean annual wage for such workers in May 2012 was $21,440. Nail technicians employed by department stores, health practitioners' offices, and hotels made the most money in 2012, averaging more than $27,300 a year.

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