How to Become a Certified Nail Tech in 10 Steps

Follow these 10 steps to become a certified nail technician and start your career in the beauty industry!

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Becoming a certified nail technician can open doors to new career opportunities in the beauty industry. Specializing in nail care, you will provide your clients with services such as manicures, pedicures, and nail art. In order to become certified, you will need to complete a training program and pass a certification exam.

Follow these 10 steps to become a certified nail technician:

1. Research various options for certification.
2. Find a training program that is accredited and offers certification.
3. Complete the required number of hours for the training program.
4. Pass the practical and written exams at the end of the program.
5. Obtain a license from your state or local government, if required.
6. Start your own business or work at a salon or spa.
7. Purchase professional supplies and tools.
8. Maintain your certification by completing continued education courses as required.
9. Renew your license, if necessary.
10Keep up with trends in the nail industry by reading magazines and attending trade shows

The Certification Process

Becoming a licensed nail technician requires completing a state-approved education program and passing a written and practical exam. The first step is to find a reputable program that offers the required training. Once you have completed the program and fulfilled all the requirements, you will then be able to sit for the certification exam.

Step 1: Research your state’s requirements

The first step to becoming a certified nail technician is to research your state’s requirements. Each state has different requirements, so it’s important to know what yours are before you begin the process. You can find out your state’s requirements by searching online or contacting your state’s cosmetology board.

Once you know your state’s requirements, you can start working on completing them. In most cases, you will need to complete a certain number of hours of training at a school or salon that is licensed by your state. You may also need to pass an exam before you can be certified.

Step 2: Complete a nail technician program

After you have completed your high school education or equivalent, you will need to enroll in and complete a nail technician program. These programs are commonly found at technical schools, community colleges, and some beauty schools. Most programs will take between six and twelve months to complete, although there are a few accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as four weeks.

While enrolled in a nail technician program, you will take classes such as manicure/pedicure, nail art, acrylic nails, salon business, and product knowledge. You will also have the opportunity to complete a practical exam and/or a portfolio of your work. These requirements vary by state, so be sure to check with your state’s licensing board for specific details.

Step 3: Pass the written exam

The written exam tests your knowledge of salon sanitation, state laws, anatomy and physiology, product chemistry and other important topics. Depending on your state’s requirements, you may be able to take the written exam online or at a physical location. The exam typically costs around $100.

Step 4: Pass the practical exam

After you have completed your written exam, you will be given a date for your practical examination. This is where you will put your skills to the test and show the examiners what you have learned.

The practical exam will usually consist of multiple parts, and you will be expected to complete all of them to a satisfactory level in order to pass. The specifics of the exam will vary depending on your state, but some common tasks you may be asked to do include:

-Apply a basic manicure
-Apply artificial nails
-Polish nails
-Decorate nails
-Remove artificial nails
-Perform a spa treatment

Step 5: Maintain your certification

To maintain your certification, you MUST complete the following every 3 years:

-Submit a completed renewal application
-Submit the required renewal fee
-Complete any required continuing education credits (CEUs)

The Benefits of Certification

While some states do not require certification to work as a nail technician, becoming certified has a number of benefits. Certification can show clients that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to provide quality services. It can also help you get hired at a salon or spa, and may lead to higher pay. If you’re interested in becoming a certified nail technician, follow these 10 steps.

Increased earnings

Nail technicians who are certified can usually charge higher prices for their services and thus earn a higher income. In addition, many employers prefer to hire certified technicians and may be willing to pay them a higher wage. Certification can also lead to opportunities for advancement within a salon, such as management positions.

Job security

As a certified nail technician, you are proving to your employer that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to do your job well. This can give you an edge over non-certified technicians when it comes to job security. If your salon is ever short-staffed or if they are looking to promote someone, they are more likely to choose a certified technician over one without certification.


If you’re a certified nail technician, you can work in any number of environments. You can find work in a traditional salon setting, or you may choose to become a freelance technician and work from home or travel to your clients. You may also decide to work in a spa, a resort, or even on a cruise ship! The opportunities are endless.

In addition, becoming certified also gives you the opportunity to specialize in certain areas of the industry. For example, you may decide to become a certified gel nail technician or a certified nail art technician. Specializing in one or more areas can help you stand out from the competition and attract new clients.


As a certified professional, you can take pride in your work, knowing that you have the skills and knowledge to perform your job to the best of your ability. Certification also gives you an edge over non-certified professionals when it comes to job competition and career advancement.


Becoming a licensed or certified nail technician requires completing a credentialing program, passing an exam, and meeting other requirements set forth by your state’s cosmetology or barbering board. Although the process may seem daunting, it’s relatively straightforward and can be completed within a few months. Once you have your license or certification, you’ll be able to start your own business or work in a salon.

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