How to Become a Nail Technician

Do you have a passion for nails and beauty? Maybe your friends and family are always asking you to paint their nails? Then why not turn your interest into a fun and rewarding career by training to become a qualified nail technician.

Nail technicians work with people to shape, decorate and look after their nails. There’s a huge and growing demand for these services around the UK, so an exciting career could be just around the corner.

Interested? Then be sure to read our comprehensive guide to becoming a nail technician. In it, we show you what it takes to become a nail care specialist, from the qualifications you’ll need to the salary and career progression you can expect.

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What is a Nail Technician?

A nail technician takes care of people’s fingernails and toenails. This includes decorating, shaping, extensions, manicures, pedicures and general nail care treatments.

Nail technicians typically work for a salon or are self-employed. They 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.

Becoming a nail technician promises a varied and creative career for those with a passion for beauty treatments and nail therapy. And because you’ll always be working with others, it’s a great profession for those who value people time as part of their day-to-day job.


Here are some of the duties you’ll be responsible for as a nail technician:

  • Offering professional nail treatments to clients from all backgrounds
  • Advising on nail treatments and care for people with specific needs
  • Maintaining high standards of cleanliness and safety
  • Communicating with clients and helping them to 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
  • Organising the day-to-day running of your business (self-employed nail technicians only)

What Qualifications and Experience Do You Need to Become a Nail Technician?

While there are no standard qualification requirements for nail techs, any good salon will expect you to have completed qualifications, and it will also give your clients confidence in your abilities. Proper training will also help you to develop a wide range of skills and techniques, as well ensure that you have the appropriate health and safety training to recognise reactions to products, and contraindications to treatments. Additionally, without completing a recognised qualification, gaining insurance will be impossible, which is a legal requirement for anyone wishing to become self-employed.

When applying for nail technician jobs, most businesses will want to see a minimum Level 1 or Level 2 qualification in nail therapy. And depending on the requirements of the role, some salons may require a Level 3 qualification and a handful of GCSEs; it comes down to the position in question.

You can take nail therapy courses at college or as part of a distance learning course. There are several nail technician courses you can take to build your skills and get your foot in the door at a salon, including:

And once you’re a qualified nail technician, your clients will of course expect you to keep up to date with the latest trends. Right now, both ombre and nail art are incredibly popular, and both techniques require specialist training and practise. It therefore 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.

woman getting her nails done

Additional nail technician courses which may be of interest include:

As well as formal qualifications and training, you’ll need a good range of transferable skills, particularly things like communication, timekeeping and professionalism. People skills are, of course, an absolute must when it comes to nail therapy, and you need to be passionate about what you do.

In terms of experience, an accredited nail therapy qualification should be enough to help you land an entry-level position within a professional beauty salon. However, you may wish to gain additional experience by completing an apprenticeship or taking on some unpaid work experience.

How Much Do Nail Technicians Earn?

How much you’ll earn as a nail technician depends on your experience, skill level 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 and equipment. If you’re thinking of starting your own business, it’s a fantastic idea to complete a course which will coach you through the whole process, help you to develop detailed plans, and map out your projected profits and costs.

What Type of Person Would Suit Becoming 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.

So, how do you know if a career as a nail technician is right for you? Take a look at our guide below to find out if you have what it takes.

nail technician

  • Patient and diligent – you take pride in your work
  • 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
  • Professional attitude
  • Proactive about furthering your skills
  • Committed to quality and open to feedback
  • Great at working in a busy environment

What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Nail Technician?

If you have a passion for beauty treatments and enjoy working with people, becoming a nail technician promises a fun and rewarding career. But aside from job satisfaction, what other benefits can you expect as a qualified nail technician? Let’s take a look.

  • A creative outlet – decorating, shaping and caring for nails requires lots of creativity, so you can look forward to putting your imagination to good use every day.
  • Building skills – as your career takes flight, you’ll continue learning new skills and techniques, so variety and new challenges are guaranteed.
  • Working with people – we hope you’re ready for a chat because working with people around the clock means lots of talking and communication – perfect for those who thrive when around others.
  • Flexible working hours – if you become a self-employed nail technician, you’ll benefit from choosing your own hours of work – great for perfecting that work-life balance.
  • An opportunity to grow your skills – when you’ve learnt all there is to know about nails, you can expand your skillset into other areas of beauty therapy, whether it’s manicures, pedicures, facials or skincare. Building on your skills is a great way to expand your service list, attract new clients, and ensure you continue to find fulfilment in the work you do.

nail technicians

What Career Progression Can You Expect as a Nail Technician?

After gaining a nail technician qualification, the progression you can expect depends on the route you go down.

If you get a job in a beauty salon, 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 salon 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 stronger 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.

Inspired? Check out our huge range of nail and beauty therapy courses here, visit the homepage or give one of our friendly, experienced course advisers a call on 0161 630 3000.

How much does a Nail Technician earn?