“This is the quickest way to get into the beauty business,” says Deedee Carlson, owner of San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology and a member of the Professional Beauty Association (PBA). “I often recommend that students start out by getting their nail tech license. This way, they can ‘try out’ the beauty business and see if they like it.”
Training you’ll need
To qualify as a licensed nail technician, you will need to complete a nail technology program at a cosmetology or nail school, and then pass the exam required by your state. Depending on where you live, the nail program will range from 200 to 600 hours. Many full-time programs can be completed in just 12 weeks.
What you’ll learn
As a rule, your nail technology program will cover nail and skin health and physiology; infection control and first aid; natural manicuring techniques; artificial nail techniques, including nail extensions, gels and wraps; pedicure techniques; nail art; proper work habits; business, marketing and customer service strategies; and career guidance.
Where you’ll work
Nail technicians are in high demand in salons, day spas, nail salons, hotel and resort spas, health club spas and cruise ship spas. There are also many opportunities in sales and education with product companies and beauty product distributors. You may wish to open your own nail salon or create your own nail product company. Some nail techs even work with celebrities and models, providing nail care, design and enhancement for photo shoots, films, fashion shows and red carpet appearances!
A typical day
You’re starting your day bright and early at the day spa where you work as a nail specialist. As you ready your work table in a cozy, semi-private area in the salon, your first client shows up for her acrylic nail fill. She’s one of your favorites and, as you work, you catch up on news of her family and her job.
Next, it’s time to take part in a bridal consultation. The bride and her attendants have come in to discuss their hair, make-up, skin care and nails a few months prior to the wedding. Along with a hairdresser and other staff members, you meet with the group to review the palette and style of the wedding. You offer suggestions on nail length, shape and color, and then set up a series of pre-event services. Before they leave, you recommend some strengthening home care products so that their nails will be long, strong and beautiful for the big day!
Your next two clients come in for manicures. During your break, your product representative drops by with samples of the season’s new collection of nail enamels. The colors are beautiful, and you already have certain clients in mind for several of the shades.
Your last client of the day has requested a spa pedicure, so you fill the basin of the salon’s special, luxurious pedicure chair with water and fragrant oils. You massage her tired legs and feet, shape and polish her nails and watch all of her stress melt away. You realize that helping clients to feel this good is the very best part of your job!