There are about 156,300 nail technicians employed in the United States. As with many cosmetologists and other personal appearance workers, about 28 percent of nail technicians are self-employed. They may rent a "booth" or chair at a salon; some may own their own nail salons. A growing number of nail technicians are employed by nail salons, which are rapidly increasing in number in many areas of the country. Beauty shops and department store salons also employ nail technicians, but most have only one or two on staff (very large salons have more). Since employment is expected to be strong in nail services, there is good potential for those wishing to open their own businesses in the nail industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the states of California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania employ the largest number of manicurists and pedicurists.
In most states, graduating from an accredited cosmetology or nail school that meets the state's requirements for licensing is the vehicle for entry into this field. Nearly all cosmetology schools assist graduates with the process of finding employment. Want ads and personal visits to salons and shops are also productive means of finding a job.
Advancement in the nail technology industry most often takes the form of establishing a large, loyal clientele. Other opportunities include owning one's own nail salon. This can be a highly profitable endeavor if one has the proper business skills and savvy; the cost of materials and overhead can be relatively low, and, in addition to the earnings realized from services performed for their customers, the owners typically receive half of their operators' earnings.
Some technicians choose to advance by becoming nail instructors in cosmetology or nail schools or becoming inspectors for state cosmetology boards.
Nail technicians who constantly strive to increase their knowledge and proficiency in a wide array of nail services will have a competitive advantage and will be positioned to secure a large and varied clientele.
Tips for Entry
Practice doing the nails of friends and family. If they like your work, ask them to recommend your services to others.
Land an entry-level job at a nail salon to learn about the field and make valuable industry contacts.
Conduct information interviews with nail salon managers and let it be known that you are looking for a job.