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How Long Does it Take to Become a Nail Technician?

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nail Technician?

So, you’ve decided you need a new career, and life as a certified nail tech job description is oddly tantalizing. In your dream career profile, you would be meeting new people and chatting the day away with exciting clients. You smile while making people feel good about themselves.

If that sounds like you, then you’re right. A nail tech career might just be the perfect pursuit, but you should consider the amount of time it will take you to complete the certification process before you get started. Becoming a certified nail technician is far more than just painting clients’ nails all day.

Nail technicians are trained and certified beauty experts. It takes dedication to prepare and pass the exam required by the department of licensing in all states except Connecticut before you can become certified.

Your months of training programs will elevate you as a highly-skilled professional and prepare you for the multiple responsibilities you will face in this role. Not only will you learn the proper skills for a manicure, pedicure, acrylic nails, and more, but you will know how to do so while ensuring safety and a sterile environment.

What do you need to learn?

To become a top nail technician, you need to learn much more than giving a great manicure or pedicure and applying nail polish. You also must know how to use the many tools and care for them safely so they don’t spread infections or cause injuries. Depending upon the state in which you certify, you may also need to learn how to:

  • Apply and create nail art and design

  • Apply chemical-based products, such as gel and acrylic

  • Sanitize your workspace and tools

  • Provide excellent customer service by improving or developing soft skills (people skills)

  • Give hand, foot, and calf massages

  • Nail technology

  • Skincare

Some schools have cosmetology instructors that also teach nail, skin, hands, and feet anatomy, physiology, and pathology as defined by state licensing requirements.

What else is required?

As if learning all those new skills weren’t enough, guidelines dictate how many hours of nail technician training and education a nail tech must receive, as well as practical experience before you can graduate from a state-licensed course and work at nail salons.

Since becoming a certified nail technician is more than just nail care and giving manicures and pedicures all day, most schools require a GED or high school diploma before you can enroll. Some schools require an associate degree, though this is rare.

People’s situations change, and those with a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, especially with a focus on management courses, might find a good use for their level of education pursuing business or franchise ownership or management.

Typically, the minimum age for enrollment to become a licensed nail technician is 16. Once you make it through the lessons, you must pass state or NIC (National Institute of Cosmetology) practical exams.

A few states permit apprenticeship programs to substitute for a formal nail technician training program. Most beauty school credits are not considered transferable college credit except to another cosmetology school or nail technician school.

As you can see, becoming manicurists and pedicurists isn’t something you can achieve overnight, but you can achieve it in less than a year. It’s also one of the shortest barbering school or cosmetology programs and an excellent first step if you want to pursue a different type of beauty career, such as a hairstylist or makeup artist.

In short, the education required will take between 300 to 600 hours of training to become a certified nail tech within three to nine months. How long it will take you depends on several factors: the school you attend, the state in which you live, and the state in which you choose to practice your trade.

Like degree programs, the difference between the various schools’ required hours and time to completion is because the number of training hours available per week is different. Schools may have full-time classes, night classes, online classes, or part-time classes. Some schools will let you take day and night classes simultaneously, while others will not.


What if you want to certify as quickly as possible?

The varying time requirements nail technicians must complete mean you have options. If completing the coursework and certification in three months is your goal, you simply need to find school locations that enable you to get an online degree.

If it’s more important you have the flexibility to attend school around your family and work demands, then find a school that can accommodate your chaotic schedule. If you can drop everything and focus entirely on completing school, you should be able to gain a manicurist license in three months, though it has been completed in just two and a half.

Can you become a nail tech online?

Courses for Success offer online nail technician courses. These courses are as good as in-person courses, and many past students have said positive things about their experiences.

Not all online school courses can lead to state certification. Some methods are for in-home use only, and even though they offer a certificate program, they may not be sufficient to meet your state’s stringent standards.

Where can you find a three-month program?

Like any comparison-shopping outing, finding a three-month program is just a Google search away. Search for nail technician schools and courses so you can compare what each has to offer.

You may find it easiest to keep track of the various options if you create a spreadsheet or list of all the sites you visit, along with the program, the number of hours required, types of classes offered (full-time, night, day, etc.), and the fees associated with each. If you can’t find local schools to meet your needs, widen your search to nearby states — or the state you’ve always dreamed of visiting.

Another great source of information about schools is a professional beauty association. Find those in your area (Google search again) and ask them for recommendations.

Be sure to check the reviews of past students. They are in the best position to tell you about the school and the programs offered.

Check the school’s website, but most schools have an admissions administrator available to answer your questions if you still have questions. They can also help you register online, provide information about loans and grants if you need financial aid, or suggest housing if you consider school far from home.

If you are committed to graduating in three months or fewer, you will likely spend 24 – 35 hours in class, not to mention home study requirements. Completing the course in under three months would be insurmountable if you also need to hold down a full-time job and extremely difficult — but not impossible — with a part-time job.

For those unable to get a loan or grant for the school, the best combination is a part-time job and part-time classes. The downside is you will need longer to complete the course, maybe even the full nine months.


What happens after graduation?

Nail technicians have many options once they have achieved their certification. A certified nail tech can start their own business and work from home or as a mobile technician, they can work at a dedicated nail salon, or they can work within a beauty salon as provide services to existing clients who may have dropped in for eyelash extensions or hair design and added on nail services as well.

Polishing it off

The good news is you can become a certified nail technician in nine months or fewer, and for many, this is an excellent path to a quick career change. Doing nails can be a rewarding career, but serious students know the work doesn’t end at graduation. Continuing education will keep them at the top of their games and ensure they can charge top dollar for their services.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 155,300 nail techs in the U.S. in May of 2019, and experts predict the available jobs will grow an impressive 19% percent in the next decade. With such growth on the horizon, now is a great time to become a certified nail technician.

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