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Make Up & Beauty

How to Become a Nail Technician


Lead Academy

8 Mins Read

As the beauty industry is booming, the demand for nail technicians is increasing day by day. As per Business Gateway, “Nails Salons are the 7th most popular type of start-up business in the UK.” Now, nail work is no longer limited to manicures and pedicures; nail art, acrylic and gel nails are the latest additions which have attracted clients. That is why being a nail technician can open new paths of success for you.

Many graduates of nail technician programs begin an in-home nail salon, while others join an existing business. Further, you can earn by doing a task that you genuinely enjoy.

If you are planning to be a nail technician but do not know where to start, this blog can help you understand how to become a nail technician.

Who is a Nail Technician?

Nail Technicians are beauty specialists who help to clean, trim, shape, polish and overall, maintain a client’s fingernails and toenails. Along with providing manicures and pedicures, nail technicians are also responsible for applying artificial nails and extensions, grooming a client’s cuticles, removing dead skin and providing light massage. They are either self-employed or work in salons, spas, barber shops or nail studios.

Nail technician applying gel coat on customer’s nails

What are the Responsibilities of a Nail Technician?

A nail technician performs a variety of tasks on a daily basis which are-

  • Cleaning, trimming, filing and shaping nails
  • Removing cuticles and dead skin
  • Painting fingernails and toenails
  • Applying acrylic nails and gel nails
  • Giving hand and foot massage
  • Sterilising equipment before use
  • Recommending colours, rhinestones and designs based on each customer’s style
  • Offering nail care treatment tips (e.g. how to strengthen nails and how to make manicures last longer)
  • Promoting and selling nail and skincare products
  • Preparing and clean beauty station in-between appointments
  • Informing clients about additional services and offers (e.g. loyalty discounts, eyebrow waxing)

Required Skills and Qualities of a Nail Technician

There are certain skills and qualities required to become a nail technician which helps them to get clients. Those are-


Like any other career in the beauty industry, an artistic vision is essential to be a nail technician. Working with nails, using colours and textures is no less than art. Additionally, it takes a great deal of creativity to listen to a client’s requests and translate them into a stunning finished product, which is only possible on behalf of a creative nail technician.


To be successful in any career, especially as a nail technician, you should be passionate about what you do. If you have a positive attitude, it will shine through your work during each and every appointment with your clients.


Patience is another quality that sets the best nail techs apart from the rest. Nail work like manicures and pedicures requires focus and attention to detail since performing these in the right way can take quite some time to result in the perfect nail job.

Further, you should remember that, the results will reflect a lack of attention if you rush the process. Therefore, you must learn the proper steps for doing nails, then have the patience to follow your procedure to ensure the best possible outcomes for your clients.

Communication skills

Nail technicians constantly keep themselves in contact with clients, so they need to ensure that they have excellent communication skills. Thus, they should be a great listener and be able to ask questions to understand their clients’ requests. They also must be able to provide feedback and advice for those clients who are confused about what they want.

Staying up-to-date

Your clients would rely on you for all the latest beauty trends and techniques. As their go-to nail expert, you could be the one to suggest they try different nail polish colours which they would never consider on their own. Follow industry bloggers or do online courses to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

Check out our blog on how to become a permanent makeup artist and take a step towards career advancement.

What to Expect Working as a Nail Technician?

If you work at a nail salon, there would be several other nail technicians with whom you would be working. There are usually separate manicure and pedicure stations at a salon and each technician working at the salon rents out a station of their own. Rent would either be a set amount each month or a percentage of the nail technician’s earns. Each nail tech would be responsible for building and maintaining their own clientele.

The atmosphere of a nail salon, whether it be at a proper shop or at home, should maintain cleanliness and reflect professionalism. As a nail technician, you should wear white lab coats to display a professional attitude, and you must always abide by the local health codes and regulations.

It is your responsibility to give the impression of relaxation and pampering, as clients go to a nail salon not only for grooming purposes but also to take a break from their hectic lives.

If you can manage to get yourself a loyal client base through your marketing skill, being a nail technician can be a very flexible and rewarding career choice.

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Working Hours

The job of a nail tech can be considered a convenient one due to the flexibility it can bring. If you are a freelance nail technician, you can choose your own hours to fit your lifestyle.

Your hours are often set if you work in a salon or spa. You may need to work on weekends as the salons and spas remain the busiest these days. You should also be aware that you have to work in the evenings as this is when people book most of their treatments.

How to Become a Certified Nail Technician?

There are various routes to becoming a certified nail technician, which you can choose according to your own preferences.

A nail technician filing the nails of it’s client

Obtaining the required qualifications

Though nail technicians do not need any formal training in the UK, they typically choose from one of the three levels of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) as mentioned below.

NVQ Level 1

Level one is the basic qualification for beginners. This will train you up to an assistant’s level and you will learn how to give primary consultations. You will also learn how to perform basic treatments as well as helping to prepare more advanced treatments for professional nail technicians. Once you complete Level 1, you will likely need to carry on higher-level training to increase your career prospects.

NVQ Level 2

This is the most common qualification for nail technicians in the UK. It is the minimum level expected by many salon employers. Level 2 trains you to become a junior nail technician with an intermediate skill set so that you can work independently with clients. It will provide you with in-depth knowledge about artificial nails, manicures and pedicures, as well as health and safety issues that you should be aware of.

NVQ Level 3

Level 3 is the most complete course designed for those who want to become advanced nail technicians. It descriptively teaches you about artificial nails, electric filing, nail art and design. No prior knowledge is required to enrol in this course.

Approaching apprenticeship programs

Another way to gain relevant skills and experience regarding the nail tech position is by completing an apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs combine practical nail business tech training with an academic stream of study. An apprentice works alongside experienced nail tech staff, gains industry-specific skills and also receives a wage.

A nail tech apprenticeship program can take between 1-2 years to complete. The entry requirements may vary depending on the provider of the apprenticeship. Typically, 5 GCSE’s between A and C grade is preferred, and these can be in any number of subjects.

Working towards the role

You can also be a nail tech by working towards the role. If you have a passion for nail art and a flair for design, you can look for a job as a trainee with a nail salon or spa and learn on the job.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Nail Technician Program?

The duration of a nail technician program will depend on the course you will study. Most nail technician programs can take an average of 300 to 600 hours to complete. You can typically complete a nail tech program between three to nine months, depending on whether you study part-time or full-time.

How Much Does a Nail Technician Earn?

According to the National Careers Service, “The initial salary of a nail technician is £15,500 while an experienced nail tech can earn up to £25,000 a year.”

The following table shows the salary of Nail Technicians across different cities as suggested by Check-a-salary.


If you are a beauty enthusiast and enjoy providing services to beauty conscious clients, you should definitely opt for a career as a nail technician. Your creativity and genuine passion for this work is what would keep you going.

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