How to Become a Nail Technician
Do you love everything to do with nails and want to turn this passion into a career? The nail industry is undoubtedly thriving but becoming a nail technician doesn’t happen overnight! With the right motivations, skills, and experience, you can become a successful nail technician that everyone will want to book an appointment with. This guide will tell you precisely what you need to do.
- What is a nail technician?
- What does a nail technician do?
- Benefits of being a nail technician
- How to become a nail technician
What is a nail technician?
A nail technician is involved in the grooming and aesthetic treatment of nails (fingernails and toenails). As well as providing pedicures, manicures, shaping, applying extensions and decorating nails with polish, transfers and other techniques – nail techs also specialize in making sure their clients’ nails are in perfect health.
Being a nail technician is great fun and is perfect for social butterflies who have an artistic flair and love pampering others.
What does a nail technician do?
We touched on a nail technician’s role above, but there are dozens of jobs nail techs are expected to do daily. These jobs include:
- Application & removal of nail polish
- Application & removal of nail extensions
- Recommending designs, colours and styles for each client
- Tidying up nails by cutting, cleaning, and shaping them
- Massaging hands and feet
- Providing a range of nail care treatments
- Offering advice around nail care
- Sterilizing equipment and beauty station between clients
- Communicating with customers and putting them at ease
Depending on the salon you work for, you may also be expected to upsell products and additional services[i]. You’ll also probably have to chip in with other duties like cleaning, making drinks for clients and opening & closing the salon.
According to PayScale, a nail technician in Australia can expect to make anywhere between $16 – $27 an hour. This equates to $32k – $56k a year[ii]. When you work in a salon, your wage will be lower whilst training and increase as you gain experience.
If you’re a mobile nail technician or work for yourself, you can set your own rates. When deciding how much you should charge, look at:
- Cost of service per client based on products used
- Cost of disposable equipment used (e.g. cotton balls, wipes, cuticle pushers/orangewood sticks)
- Cost of your time
- What other nail techs and salons in your area are charging
- Cost of travel (if you plan on going to client’s homes)
Benefits of being a nail technician
The truth is that there are loads of positives to being a nail technician, but only if your personality, wants, and goals suit the role. So, what are some of the benefits?
- Meeting new people – as a nail tech, you’ll see people from all walks of life coming through your doors. It’s a great chance to make connections with people, and your recurring clients might even become firm friends.
- Satisfaction – there’s no better feeling than doing a job well, and as a nail tech, you’ll be doing multiple sets of nails a day. Seeing how pleased your client is with the result will make you feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Creativity – if you have an artistic flair, being a nail tech gives you ample opportunities to flex your creative muscle.
- Flexible schedule – as a self-employed nail tech, or even at some salons, you have the flexibility to decide how many clients you service a day and what your working hours are.
- Progression – when you’re a nail tech, the only boundary to your progression is yourself. The number of hours you put into learning and practising will show in your work.
How to become a nail technician
Whether you attend a beauty school, take an online nail course to earn a formal qualification, practice on friends & family or take up an apprenticeship – there are many routes you can take to become a nail technician. We’ll discuss the following aspects of starting a career in nail technology:
Costs to consider
Although nail technology can be extremely profitable if you’re careful with your bottom line, some costs need to be considered when you’re getting started (especially if you want to go down the self-employment road).
Research well, and take the following costs into account:
- Course prices – although many online nail courses are great value for money, nail technology classes at beauty schools can cost thousands.
- Equipment – if you’re planning on going solo, you’ll need to buy all your gear. Think about the cost of nail buffers, clippers and files, acetone, nail extensions… the list is endless! You can bring the cost down if you shop around, but never sacrifice your equipment’s quality to save a few dollars.
- Studio space – Again, this applies to those who are self-employed. If you don’t have a suitable workspace at home, you’ll need to look into renting a studio space in an empty unit or in an existing salon.
- Legalities – Depending on your area, you may need to pay for a license to practice, and you’ll need to make sure you are covered by insurance.
- Other certificates – You might want to earn other certificates to support your career, such as Health & Safety or First Aid.
You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a nail technician in Australia[iii], but employers are more likely to hire you if you have a recognized qualification (especially if you have no real-life experience with nails). Having something on paper will help to set you apart from other applicants. So, how can you get qualifications?
- Take a nail course at a local school or college
- Attend a beauty school
- Complete an online training course
- Seek out an apprenticeship/traineeship in nail technology
Whichever route you choose, remember that practice makes perfect. Ask friends and family if they’d be willing to let you practice by painting and applying extensions to their nails and invest in a practice hand so you can try out new styles and techniques whenever you have time to.
There are certain skills that all good nail technicians should possess. Not all these skills are directly related to nails, but they will help you comfortably fit into a salon atmosphere and put your clients at ease during their sessions. To succeed as a nail technician, you should work on acquiring or strengthening the following skills:
- Conducting yourself in a friendly, pleasant manner
- Great communication skills
- General customer service skills
- Hand-eye co-ordination
- Neatness and cleanliness
- Artistic skills and creativity to come up with the perfect nail designs for your clients
- Attention to detail and patience
- Knowledge of new nail trends
- Ability to upsell or encourage clients to try new styles and treatments
How to get clients
Going through the steps to become a nail technician will only get you so far. You also need to work hard to secure a loyal client base if you’re self employed or starting your own business.
The most important factor here is setting yourself apart from other salons and nail tech’s in your area. What do you do differently, and why should people choose you over them? Once you’ve decided on your USP (Unique Selling Point), use it to hook in new customers.
If you’re struggling to get clients booked in, offering a discount for first-time clients or discounting your prices for the first year that you operate can work wonders. When you’ve established a name for yourself and have loyal clients you can raise your prices – they won’t mind spending a few extra dollars if they trust your quality of service.
Whichever stage of your journey you are in, social media is your best friend. Use it productively to show off your best work, let clients book appointments, and increase your online presence. Instagram and Facebook are both great platforms that you should be taking advantage of.
Is being a nail technician worth it?
If you have a real passion for nails, the hard work you need to put in to become a nail technician is definitely worth it. Start today, and you could be earning money and accelerating your career in a matter of months.
Good Universities Guide, n.d. How to become a Nail Technician. [Online]
Available at: https://www.gooduniversitiesguide.com.au/careers-guide/nail-technician
[Accessed February 2021].
PayScale, 2021. Average Nail Technician Hourly Pay in Australia. [Online]
Available at: https://www.payscale.com/research/AU/Job=Nail_Technician/Hourly_Rate
[Accessed February 2021].
Workable, n.d. Nail Technician job description. [Online]
Available at: https://resources.workable.com/nail-technician-job-description
[Accessed February 2021].
Karen Harrington started Beauty Courses Online in 2008 and has decades of experience in the beauty industry. Karen has owned multiple beauty salons, aswell as a conventional beauty school. Thousands of students have begun a career in the beauty industry from studying courses provided by Karen.