Thinking about becoming a nail technician?
Do you love shaping and painting nails? Maybe your friends and family are always asking you to paint theirs for them? You could easily turn this hobby into a fun and rewarding career by training to become a nail technician.
There's a huge and growing demand for nail technicians around the UK, so you could be working in a salon, at a high-end spa, or even build your own business as a self-employed nail technician after completing a distance learning qualification. Whatever path you choose, an exciting career is just around the corner.
Interested? Then be sure to read on to understand everything there is to know about your future career, including how to become a nail technician from home.
Our comprehensive guide discusses what skills and qualifications you'll need, the working options available, what salary you can expect, and more. So let's dive in together.
What is a nail technician?
A nail technician (often referred to as a nail tech) takes care of people's fingernails and toenails. This includes cleaning, decorating, shaping, applying nail extensions, manicures, pedicures, and general nail care treatments. We’ll go into this in a bit more detail in our ‘daily life of a nail tech’ section a little further on in this guide.
Becoming a nail technician promises a varied and creative career for those passionate about beauty treatments and nail therapy. And because you'll always be working with others, it's an excellent profession for those who value people-time as part of their daily role.
Where does a nail technician work?
There are a few options to choose from when it comes to your working environment. You could:
- Work for a salon - either full-time, part-time, or by renting a chair if you're self-employed.
- Operate as a mobile nail tech - where you travel to people’s homes and do their nails in their comfortable environment. This is another option for a self-employed nail tech.
- Work for a high-end spa - you’d likely require further specialist training for this, such as a qualification in hand and foot massage.
What does the daily life of a nail technician look like?
Nail technicians deal with clients from all walks of life, all of whom have different requirements and preferences when it comes to the care and appearance of their nails. That means that you'll have something new not just every day but from customer to customer.
Here are some of the things you can expect to be doing when working as a nail technician:
- Making sure all equipment used is thoroughly sterilised before and after use.
- Shaping and cleaning both fingernails and toenails.
- Painting nails.
- Removing old nail polish hygienically.
- Offering professional nail treatments to customers from all backgrounds.
- Advising on nail treatments and care for people with specific needs.
- Working to maintain high standards of cleanliness and safety.
- Communicating with clients so that they feel welcome and comfortable.
- Staying up to date on the latest nail therapy trends, styles, designs and techniques.
- Dealing with customer complaints and challenging situations.
- Cash handling and operating a booking system.
If you gain specialist qualifications, you could also:
- Apply nail extensions (acrylic, gel, silk etc.).
- Provide foot and hand massages.
- Apply creative nail art.
- Apply jewels or diamantes to nails.
As you can see, there's a lot you can experience in a day's work. That's what makes this career so enticing to creative people searching for an outlet.
What skills and qualifications does a nail tech need?
If you're a people person and thrive in a warm and chatty environment, have superb timekeeping and communication skills and understand how to operate with professionalism, you likely have the personality to go far as a nail tech.
Here’s a list of some of the softer skills you’ll need to hone to excel in a career as a nail specialist:
- Patience and diligence.
- Excellent communication skills and a warm, welcoming personality.
- Strong time-keeping and organisational skills.
- Creative aptitude.
- Respect for diversity and equality – you enjoy working with people from all walks of life.
- Respect for cleanliness and health and safety.
- A professional attitude.
- Proactive about furthering your skills.
- Commitment to quality and openness to feedback.
- Great at working in a busy environment.
In terms of training, there are no standard qualification requirements for nail techs. With that said, any good salon or spa will expect you to hold at least one nail qualification. Often, it's additional specialist qualifications that will put you ahead of other candidates, as employers will be looking to add more services to their offering.
Proper training will give your clients confidence in your abilities and help you develop a wide range of skills and techniques. You'll also undergo the appropriate health and safety training to recognise reactions to products and contraindications to treatments, ensuring you become the best nail tech around.
If you're looking to become a self-employed nail tech, you'll be required to prove completion of a recognised nail technician qualification to be eligible for business insurance.
Specifically, most businesses will want to see a minimum Level 1 or Level 2 qualification in nail therapy from a potential candidate. And depending on the requirements of the role, some salons or spas may require a Level 3 qualification and a handful of GCSEs; it comes down to the position in question.
Can you make money as a nail tech?
How much you’ll earn as a nail technician depends on your experience, nail qualifications and whether you work for a business or are self-employed.
Typically, an entry-level nail technician position within a salon would fetch a minimum wage salary, rising to around £25,000 for the most experienced practitioners.
Of course, you could earn more as a nail technician if you opt for the self-employed route. Starting your own business could mean a higher take-home salary as you grow your client base, but remember that you'll also have lots of additional costs to cover, like the price of tools, equipment and potentially chair hire.
If you’re thinking of starting your own business, it’s a fantastic idea to complete a course that will coach you through the whole process, help you to develop detailed plans, and map out your projected profits and costs.
How much does a Nail Technician earn?
What career progression can you expect as a nail technician?
After gaining the required nail qualifications, the progression you can expect depends on the route you choose to go down.
If you get a job in a beauty salon or spa, you may be able to rise up the ranks for things like good performance, becoming first a supervisor and then, later down the line, a manager. You may also have the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques on the job, which could help you reach the next rung on the ladder and attain a more substantial salary.
Alternatively, you might start your own business, operating a nail therapy service on a self-employed basis. Here, progression relies on growing your client base and staying abreast of emerging trends and techniques; get those right, and the sky’s the limit on where your career might take you.
How to become a nail technician from home
You can study nail therapy as part of a distance learning course. There are several part-time nail technician courses you can take with us to build your skills, get your foot in the door and even become a nail specialist. Here are some examples of courses you can take from the comfort of your own home.
Essential nail technician qualifications
|Nail Technician Diploma Level 3|
|Level 3 Manicure Course|
|Level 3 Pedicure Course|
|Level 3 Manicure & Pedicure Course|
Additional specialist nail qualifications
All of these courses can be completed in your own time, at your own pace and with access to one-to-one tutor support whenever you need it.
It's important to remember that nail technicians can never stop learning. Once qualified, your clients will expect you to keep up to date with the latest trends. Ombre and nail art are incredibly popular right now, and both techniques require specialised training and practice.
Whether you're working for yourself, at a salon or spa, it pays to keep an eye on the latest nail looks and stay one step ahead with your professional development. This will help you attract more customers, which is especially important if you plan to start your own business.
Ready to become a nail technician?
Becoming a skilled nail technician takes time, patience and hard work, not to mention bags of positivity and enthusiasm. Remember, you’ll be working with people every minute of the day – something that can be challenging in itself.
But it’s also a fantastic opportunity for people who thrive in those situations.
If you have a passion for beauty treatments and enjoy working with people, becoming a nail technician promises a fun and rewarding career.
Ready to take the leap? We have a whole host of nail courses for you to choose from. When you enrol on a distance learning course with us, you’ll have an entire team to back you up, including highly experienced tutors and an award-winning learning platform. We love helping people go for their dreams and build a career they’re excited to wake up to every morning, and we’d love to assist you, too. Are you ready? We are.