Job description

Nail technicians clean, shape and decorate their clients’ fingernails (manicuring) and toenails (pedicuring). They are responsible for polishing both artificial and real nails and trimming and filing them to enhance their appearance. Nail technicians also massage and moisturise the skin on hands and feet and advise clients on nail and skincare. These professionals may also sell nail and skincare products.


    • Clean, shape and decorate fingernails and toenails
    • Polish and apply nail art to clients’ artificial and real nails
    • Remove existing nail polish
    • Cut, buff, trim and file clients’ nails
    • Massage and moisturise clients’ hands and feet
    • Advise clients on nail and skincare
    • Sell nail and skincare products
    • Clean tools and work area

Skills and qualities

Active listening
Customer service
Social perceptiveness
Arm-hand steadiness
Near vision

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

With enough skill, experience and budget, nail technicians have the prospect of opening their own business. Some go on to launch their own nail, spa or beauty salons.

There is also the opportunity to prepare nails for photo shoots and fashion shows and work with photographers, fashion designers or TV companies.

Some nail technicians also advance to teach nail art to aspiring manicurists and pedicurists.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Nights and weekends occasionally

Nail technicians typically work indoors in a nail, spa or beauty salon. They spend several hours sitting down as they provide treatment to their clients’ nails.

These professionals use a variety of tools such as nail clippers, nail files, UV lamps and cuticle tools and, therefore, wear protective gear like gloves and masks. Nail technicians are also exposed to a variety of fumes from nail polish and cleaning products.

Some nail technicians work on a mobile-basis, which involves travelling to clients’ locations to provide manicure and pedicure services.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Specialist cosmetology or nail technician course

Study time


A high school diploma is usually sufficient for aspiring nail technicians. Most states, however, require that individuals complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician programme.

Nail technicians also need to gain licensure by passing a written state exam and practical exam. Mobile manicurists and pedicurists, however, require a separate licence.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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