How to Become a Manicurist [5 Simple Steps!]

Wondering how to become a manicurist? As a growing and financially stable career, it’s no wonder that nail art-lovers everywhere are wondering if they should join the manicuring field.

Decide If Manicuring is the Right Career for You

While manicuring is a rewarding career, it’s not for everyone. Even if you have a love for nail art, you need to consider whether or not manicuring is the right job for you.


You’ll want to take into account a manicurist’s daily job duties. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most manicurists will…

  • Discuss the available nail treatments.
  • Clean, trim, and file nails.
  • Reduce calluses on rough skin.
  • Apply nail polish
  • Advise clients about, promote, and sell nail and skincare products.
  • Clean and disinfect their work area and tools.


Many manicurists will also play a role in the day-to-day business operations of their salons. For example, they may schedule appointments or take inventory. These secondary duties, however, vary greatly from workplace to workplace.


Since manicurists spend so much time with clients, you’ll want to brush up on your people and conversation skills. Time management skills are also super helpful, so you don’t spend too much or too little time on any one client. 

Find a Manicuring Program and Apply

In most states, you’ll need to complete a manicuring program before you can test for a license. But not all manicuring programs are considered equal, and you’ll want to make sure you thoroughly research the programs you’re considering.


Take a look at their cost, their average class size, their program length, and their curriculum to determine whether or not a school’s right for you. Most importantly, however, you’ll want to make sure your school meets the following criteria:

  • Accreditation. You’ll want to make sure your program is through an established and recognized school. If a school’s accredited, that means their curriculum’s met regional agencies’ requirements. If a school’s not properly accredited, then most employers won’t consider it valid.

  • Course Offerings. You need to check the curriculum to make sure its courses cover everything you’ll need as a manicurist. This includes basic manicure and pedicure, nail and cuticle cleaning, gel application, hand massage, foot massage, nail condition assessment, skin condition assessment, nail art designs, nail art trends, health and sanitation, knowledge of nail products, and client relations. Some programs may also include basic marketing and sales classes.

  • State Board Preparation. A good program will have a record of preparing students for the state board exam. For this information, you’ll probably have to find reviews from previous students. If you know someone who graduated from this program, ask them what they think.


After finding your perfect program, you’ll only need to apply. 

Attend Class and Complete Your Manicuring Program

But getting accepted is only the beginning! You’ll need to make sure you attend all your classes and pay attention. Unlike traditional degree programs, everything you’ll learn will directly correspond with your future job duties.


The hands-on experience you’ll get from these classes is invaluable. Don’t try to cut corners, and try to avoid missing class.

Earn Your License

Once you’ve completed your program, you’ll qualify for the licensing exam. Though exact requirements vary from state to state, you can generally expect to have a written exam and a practical exam. 


In Tennessee, you’ll take the written exam (also called the theory portion) first. Once you pass the theory portion, you’ll be able to schedule the practical portion. Once you’ve passed both exam portions, you’ll receive a form for obtaining your license.

Start Your Career

Now it’s time to find your first manicuring job! Manicurists in Tennessee can expect an average salary of about $20,400 a year. As someone fresh out of school, however, your starting salary may end up closer to $16,800. At a salon or spa, your hours will probably vary from week to week, but you should be able to find both part- and full-time work.


While most manicurists will work in traditional salons, some may find work in surprising places. Cruise ships and airports may offer manicuring services, and doctor’s offices occasionally employ manicurists to help with specific treatments.


If you’re a people person with a passion for nail care, becoming a manicurist may be your dream career! To begin your new career, you should check out Career Beauty College’s manicuring program. On their program page, you can book an appointment with an advisor and learn more about their program.