Of all the fields of cosmetology, nails can be the most fun and instantly rewarding. From the popularity of nail art to new polish formulas, aspiring manicurists and nail technicians have more tools to express their creativity than ever. But how do you get started?
Learn Your State Requirements
While the road to becoming a nail technician is shorter than most of the cosmetology fields, the number of hours you need to put in before licensure varies from state to state. You’ll want to find the website for your state (or the state you plan on working in) in order to find out how many hours of training you’d need to complete. For example, in Massachusetts you need 100 hours, whereas in California you need 400 hours.
Enroll in School or Apprenticeship
You’ll need to decide where you get your education, whether that’s online, at a nail-specific program, or a comprehensive cosmetology school. If you need financial aid, you should also consider that there may be minimum hour requirements and a nail-specific curriculum may not meet those minimums. Likewise, you may live in an area where general cosmetology is the only option.
Study & Pass Exam
Nail or general cosmetology school should help you prep for taking the state board’s exam, but you’ll want to take time and study outside of class. Read up on new regulations or laws through your state’s site. If you have more specific questions or concerns, start posting on a nail community forum or message board to get advice from other people that have been through the process. As for the exam, you’ll want to go to your state board’s website to learn the specific logistics of the process. But in general, you’ll submit an application, pay a fee, and schedule a time to take a written and performance exam.
Find First Job
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but there are a few strategies that can improve your odds of landing a gig after passing the nail technician exam. You can research local salons in your area that may be hiring or get friendly with the nail techs at your favorite spot and ask them how they got started. It’s important to network and put it on people’s radar that you’re certified and excited to find work. You may also consider going down a more freelance route or partnering with other beauty professionals for events like weddings or parties.
While you can grow your client base the old fashioned way by tapping into the friends and family of current clients, social media is another option. Creating an Instagram to share pictures of your work, especially creative nail art, can help with exposure and even put you on featured lists online. If you’re comfortable being on camera, you can even create a YouTube channel and feature basic nail tutorials or answer nail-related questions. This can help you grow a fanbase that you can convert into clients.
A career as a nail technician can be an exciting, creative outlet for cosmetology professionals. If you’re looking to renew your manicurists license and need continuing education, check out our online courses.