What Do You Need to Become a Nail Tech? A Quick Guide!

You’ve done the research, looked at the statistics, and decided to pursue a career as a nail technician, but what do you need to become a nail tech? Now, you’re figuring out how to achieve your goal. In addition to a passion for nail care and nail art, what skills and knowledge will help you pursue this career? What are the requirements for a license? How do you meet them?

What do you Need to Become a Nail Tech

To answer the first question, you’ll need numerous skills to perform a nail tech’s job duties. Some of those day-to-day duties include:

  • Discussing the available nail treatments.
  • Cleaning, trimming, and filing nails.
  • Reducing calluses on rough skin.
  • Applying nail polish
  • Advising clients about, promoting, and selling nail and skincare products.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting their work area and tools.

In order to complete those tasks, you’ll not only need to know how, but you’ll also need knowledge about nail health, current products available in the nail and skin care markets, sanitation procedures, and customer service.

Moreover, you may have additional duties related to running a nail salon. Time management and scheduling skills will help you when managing clients, and most employers would see basic business and communication skills as a plus.

How to be the Best Nail Tech

Maybe the questions shouldn’t be “what do you need to become a nail tech?”. The real question is how to become the BEST nail tech. Of course, a good nail tech needs the skills mentioned above, but an amazing nail tech might want a few extra abilities. Work on your creativity and artistic skills if you want to focus on nail art, especially your ability to keep a steady hand. Good finger dexterity will go a long way to creating beautiful designs with as few mistakes as possible.

To better accommodate chatty customers, you may also want to brush up on your people skills and conversational abilities. A good conversation with a client could be the difference between a good experience and an excellent experience.

If you intend to operate your own nail salon, you’ll want more advanced business skills. This includes keeping inventory records and ordering supplies. Moreover, you’ll need to learn how to hire and supervise workers. You’ll want some finance skills to help balance books and manage budgets. Some sales skills will also be helpful for selling nail care products.

Requirements for a Nail Tech License

Complete a Nail Tech Program

In most states, you’ll need to complete an accredited nail technician program before you can take your licensing exam. These programs should teach you all the skills you’ll need for your day-to-day work, and provide both traditional classes and hands-on experience.

Before you apply to these programs, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. You’ll also want to check the school’s accreditation status, course requirements, and reputation for preparing students for the licensing exams. If the program’s curriculum is lacking, or its former students agree it didn’t help prepare them for the licensing exam, you might want to apply elsewhere. 

Most importantly, however, is the school’s accreditation. If a school is not accredited, then it will not fulfill the education prerequisite for taking the exam, and most employers will not accept its certifications.

Pass the Licensing Exam

In Tennessee, the manicurist licensing exam consists of two parts: a written theory portion, and a practical portion. Before you can sign up to take the practical examination, you need to take and pass the theory examination. Afterward, you’ll receive instructions about completing the practical examination.

Once you pass both tests, you’ll be able to apply for your license. 

Apply for Your License

To apply for an initial license in Tennessee, you’ll need to go to the Department of Commerce & Insurance’s website, create an account, and find the application for a manicurist’s license. Fill out the application, pay the $60 application fee, and wait for the state board to approve your application.

Once they’ve approved your application, they will send your license through the mail to the address you listed on your application form.


A nail tech is a lucrative and fulfilling career field for anyone interested in nail care and nail art. So, what do you need to become a nail tech? Knowing how to pursue that career is the first step to pursuing those dreams. To acquire the skills and knowledge you’ll need as a manicurist, consider applying to Career Beauty Academy. To learn more about our nail tech program and connect with an advisor, visit our manicuring program’s page.