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According to statista.com, there were over 54,000 nail salons operating in the U.S. in 2018 with the bulk of nail technicians being employed in California. These salons offer their customers services which range from basic manicures to the creation of complex and artfully designed acrylic nails.

This points to a rosy future for those of you who have an interest in starting a career as a certified nail technician, especially with the growth of reputable online nail tech programs. Overall, this is the perfect career choice for those of you looking for a career that interests you, as well as those searching for the perfect part-time, weekend position to put a little extra cash in your pocket.

Nail Technician Employment Opportunities and Job Outlook

Before we get started looking into the educational aspect of becoming a nail tech, it might be prudent to look into the job outlook, and fortunately for you, it’s quite a bright one as are most beauty trades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a nail technician’s salary was around $11.70 per hour as of May of 2018.

However, this is the median pay.

The salary you command will depend on several factors, such as location and your workplace environment.

For instance, you’ll make much more in a high-end spa, located in Beverly Hills, than you would in a beauty salon in rural Kansas.

In fact, did you know that Alaska pays its nail technicians more than any other state, with an average of $31,170 per year? Other top-paying areas include Houston, Texas, and New York. Future prospects for those seeking this career are very positive, with a projected growth of 13 percent from now until 2026.

1) Salons, Spas and More

Now that you’re familiar with your employment prospects, what about employment opportunities? At first, you might be thinking that your only choice is to rent a station at your local spa or salon, and while that might have been true years ago, today, not so much. Today, nail technicians can find employment at hotels, advanced care facilities, cruise lines, resorts and more.

2) Mobile Nail Technicians

In fact, if you’re business savvy, you can even operate your very own mobile nail technician unit. That’s right, just set yourself up with a reliable vehicle, equipment, and supplies, and you can travel to the homes or offices of your clientele. In fact, more and more people are enjoying the luxury of having a manicure, pedicure, or both, in the comfort of their own homes.

3) Medical Nail Technician

Another option is the medical nail technician (MNT). These individuals have certified nail techs that have opted to take on additional training so that they are employable in a medical setting, such as a podiatrist’s office. These nail techs not only perform pedicures but also analyze x-rays and perform patient evaluations. This page will give you a good idea of what MNTs do.

How Online Classes are Organized?

So… still interested in becoming a professional nail technician? Great! As we have stated you’ve selected a career path that has a decent salary, positive prospective job growth, and offers you a variety of career options.

What’s more, schooling is often inexpensive when compared to other trade school alternatives, and easy to come across; you can now learn to become a professional nail technician online, and study at your own pace. Twenty years ago any kind of online training was a novelty. Now there is a lot to choose from and you need to be careful who you study with.

Once you make the final decision to dive in, you’ll find that general admissions to online nail tech schools is a simple affair. As long as you’re over 16 years of age, and have a high school diploma or GED, you’re in!

What Type of Courses Do I Need to Take?

A good, online nail tech schools are careful to include courses that not only reflect nicely on them but help you to become employed. For instance, in order to become certified, you’ll be required to take certain courses that are designed to prepare you for the real-world position of working as a nail technician. These courses will include learning the anatomy of the nail, along with diseases associated with improper nail care. You’ll also learn the importance of sanitation, equipment used, how to set up your work area, and in some cases, how to run your own business.

Once you are familiar with the anatomy and sanitation procedures, you’ll then learn how to properly trim, file and paint nails, as well as perform facials, the art of hand and foot massage, and repairing damaged nails. You’ll also learn how about how to handle and apply artificial nails, both UV gel nails and acrylic. Due to the nature of the business, some online nail tech programs will require you to visit a secondary location near you, to perform manicures for real people.

Required Educational Supplies

Depending on the school, you’ll either have to purchase a standard textbook, e-book training manual, or both. This reading material will be used in conjunction with online videos, which you can watch over and over again, at your leisure.

As for equipment, most schools will be able to offer you a kit which will take you through the course, and a moveable training hand on which to practice techniques. However, even if you cannot obtain a kit, simply take their list of supplies to your nearest beauty supply house, or favorite online beauty retailer, and purchase them there. And of course, you can even purchase these moveable training hands online!

Certificate of Completion

Once you complete your courses to the satisfaction of your online school, you’ll be issued a Certificate of Completion. This shows that you have met the requirements of the school, and have exhibited competence in your trade.

Know that this is an important certificate, as it shows prospective employers that you’ve successfully finished a nail technician course, and may also be required by insurance companies in order for you to be insured. Remember, that when shopping for an online school, check to see if their Certificate of Completion will meet the requirements of your own State Board of Education with regards to becoming a licensed nail technician.

Length and Cost

As far as length goes, the time to complete an online nail technician course will differ from school to school. In general, you can expect the school to provide you with 200 to 800 hours of coursework and training to ready you for their Certificate of Completion exam. As far as expenses, they will vary depending on the program. However, you can expect to pay from $3000 to $5000 for tuition, depending on what type of add-ons you choose.

For instance, one of the top online nail tech schools is Taond (The Academy of Nail Design). Taond is well known and instructs students from all around the world. They even have a section that helps students with state licensing requirements. Taond International offers students a variety of options which include: full certificate program, mini certificate program, advanced career programs, and program combo bundles. They also offer payment plans and tutoring programs to make it as easy as possible for the student.


In order to ensure that students acquire the proper education, a good nail tech school will be accredited. This means that the school has been examined by a third party, and meets or exceeds their requirements for modern nail tech procedures. T

he following accrediting institutions are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Council on Occupational Education
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • The National Accrediting Commission for Career Arts and Sciences

Accrediting agencies will examine the school’s facilities, faculty, curriculum, and student services, among others. They do this by sending highly-trained inspectors to each school, usually every six years.

Licensing Procedures

Most states require graduates to acquire a state license before they can perform actual manicures and pedicures for customers, and applying your online nail technician education towards state licensure can be tricky, as there is no one right answer.

Each state will have its own requirements, so it’s vital to check with your state before even committing to an online program. For instance, in order to be licensed, some states may require you to take some courses in a live environment, where you’ll be complimenting your online studies with work on real people.

The requirements for licensing will vary from state to state, Alabama, for instance, requires no school training, just 750 hours or 1200 hour apprenticeship within two years and an exam. California, on the other hand, requires 400 hours of educational training and an exam. To find out your area’s requirements please visit the National Association of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NACAMS).

Licensure Examinations

In addition to the written exam, some states may require you to participate in a practical exam where you’ll demonstrate your skills in front of an instructor who will then grade you on those skills.

The National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) is responsible for creating both the written exam and a practical exam. Currently, 33 states use the NIC’s nail tech written exam, and 14 use their practical.

So, as you can see, while most states use the NIC with regards to exams and practicals, others have devised their own exams, so it’s important to contact your state’s Department of Education for more information. NIC’s licensing exam covers the following topics:

  • Nail anatomy and physiology
  • Basic chemistry
  • Safety and sanitation procedures
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Client procedures
  • Manicure and Pedicure procedures and equipment
  • Hand and foot massage techniques
  • Nail enhancements
  • Area setup
  • Manicure techniques
  • Nail wraps
  • Nail tips
  • Sculptured nails
  • Polishing

Once you become familiar with what your particular state exam will require you can take advantage of the NIC site and others, and prepare for your exams while you are involved in your online training.

Continuing Education Requirements

Another consideration, are CEU’s, or Continuing Education Requirements. This means that certain states require that licensed nail technicians continue to take courses to keep their licenses.

For example, Florida requires its nail technicians to take a minimum of 16 CEU’s. Even if your state does not require CEU’s, it’s a good idea to take these classes on a voluntary basis. After all, when paired with a beautifully done nail art portfolio, they will definitely impress potential employers.

Nail Technician Liability Insurance

Once you pass your licensing exams it’s crucial that you obtain liability insurance before you touch any customers. Accidents can happen in salon and spa environments, so it’s necessary to ensure you are protected. Good insurance will cover all the major services that you, as a licensed nail technician professional will provide.

Services include manicures, foot scrubs, false nails, nail art, and much more. After all, you’ve no idea what tomorrow may bring, so prepare yourself by obtaining the correct liability insurance before you start.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a basic look into the world of online nail tech programs. As you can see, with a step-by-step approach you’ll quickly complete your training. When it comes to selecting your online school it’s simply a matter of common sense. First, take a look at how it compares with your state’s requirements.

Second, look at the curriculum, to get a good idea of what you’ll learn, and if you’ll be required to take additional training at a secondary site. Third, look at the reviews past students have given this school.

Know that your career options are many. You can work in a medical setting, on a cruise ship, or even operate your own mobile nail salon. Once you find and complete your program, you’ll be well on your way to finding either a full-time or part-time career that is flexible and enjoyable!

Written By
Steph Manuel keeps up with the latest beauty trends with an emphasis on barbering. While trying to find a school he came up with the idea of creating Our World Is Beauty to help other prospective students get started in their beauty careers.

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