If you’re wondering how to start a career in nail technology, you’re in the right place!

We’ve created this 7-step guide, which will show you all the steps you need to take to start your career — we’ll cover qualifications you’ll need, affordability as well as what skills you’ll need to thrive in the industry.

Firstly, let’s talk about what a nail technician is.

A nail technician helps people take care of, maintain and decorate their fingers, toes and hands. They have to understand the physiology and biology of the hands and feet and various treatments such as manicures and pedicures.

We all enjoy getting our nails done — it makes us feel amazing — and a nail technician is a person who helps us feel that way.

If you want to help people feel amazing, read on and find out how to become a nail technician!


Before you commit to a career in nail technology, you should research the industry and find out its secrets! There’ll be things you find out that could either heighten your passion or put you off — so do some exploring and ask a few questions.

You could consider some of these areas:

Practices — what different jobs will you be expected to do? The real thing can often be different to your perception
Requirements — what do you need to do to become a nail technician? Do you need qualifications? Kit? Experience?
Trends and developments — nail technology is always changing, so you should be aware of how these changes can affect you
Interests — if you’re particularly interested in natural spa manicure and pedicure, maybe extensions, acrylic or gel nails, there are many areas you could consider as your area of expertise.


If you want to succeed as a nail technician, you need to think about what makes you special. Do you have a particular style? Or are you an all-rounder? What are the positive personality traits that will help you in your job? How can you stand out from others offering the same or similar service?


Think about what makes you stand out — when you go to get your nails done, why do you go to that person? You might go to one person for pampering and another for a new, creative design or color selection, everyone has their strengths.

Also, consider someone else’s style, just because you like glam, bold looks it doesn’t mean you should recommend that look to everyone. You have to develop an understanding of what people like and make recommendations around that.


A lifeless personality is never going to get you any business! Here are some of the basic skills that nail technicians possess:

Inventive — can you create something that has the wow factor? While you always need to know the basics of nail technology, being able to create unique, inventive looks can set you apart from anyone else

Talkative — You’ve got to able to hold a conversation if you’re sat opposite someone for more than 30 minutes. And please, don’t talk about yourself for an hour. How often have you sat there and thought, ‘when is this person going to ask me something about myself?!’

Studious — ALL the best nail technicians have a desire to learn and better themselves. If you’re passionate about the industry and your role in it, you’ll always want to get better at the job — even if it means extra learning outside of work


It’s not all style and personality, you have to have the skills to back it up! Here are some of the skills you’ll be expected to develop:

  • Organisational skills — you’ve got to be able to juggle bookings and be aware of how long a treatment will last. If you schedule in an hour and your client is there for 1.5 hours, you’re in trouble. You also need a well-organised workstation and salon, so everything is clean and easy to find. If clients come in and see the salon is organised, they’re more likely to return
  • Health and safety conscious — you’ll study health and safety if you take a qualification anyway, but you have to continue to be hygiene and health and safety aware . Ask people if they have any allergies or react to any chemicals. You also need to know how to store these chemicals and what to do in an emergency
  • Multi-tasking — you have to be able to maintain high levels of concentration and attention to detail with precise designs and talk to your client at the same time. This is a skill you’ll build over time, remember, it’s always more important to get the treatment right, but you don’t want to appear robotic.


Nail technology isn’t only about manicures and pedicures, here are some of the tasks you’ll be expected to carry out daily:

  • Hand and foot massage — will usually be part of a manicure and pedicure deal in a salon — which will require you to apply light to medium pressure on someone’s hands and feet with your palms and fingers. Helps to relax the hands, not to relieve muscle tension
  • Hot oil therapy — considered to be one of the most luxurious and most difficult treatments, hot oil therapy is designed to help those with bad cuticles, and the benefits include improved circulation and skin health
  • Nail repairs — not everyone needs new nails, but most of us need help to overcome the devastation of a broken nail. You’ll learn how to repair gel nails, acrylic nails, and natural nails and learn techniques like buffing and how to apply fibreglass or silk cloth


While it’s possible to become a nail technician without any formal qualifications, we wouldn’t advise it as you’ll limit your employment options. However, if you want to freelance, it isn’t as much of an issue.

There are three routes if you want to become a nail technician: apprenticeships, NVQ qualifications, and private courses, by certified trainers, such as Nails and Beauty academy.

If you would like to learn more about gaining a professional qualifications with us, visit our Training Courses page.


While you should always take professional courses in order to be fully trained and qualified as a nails professional, you can also seek sadvice from those who have been doing nails for many years. When you attend training courses always ask questions and engage with your tutors and classmates, you can restrict yourself if you don’t have a broader view of the industry and what other people are doing.

If you are going to stay in this industry, it is important to know who the best techs in the industry are, latest technologies and trends, and soak up new knowledge as often as you can.

Once you’ve taken all the knowledge and inspiration from the people you admire, put it into practice and try new techniques on your friends or your customers.


Once you’ve enrolled in your qualification, it’s always a good idea to start planning for life after you’ve completed it. We don’t mean applying for jobs or anything like that, but you can build a portfolio of your work as you progress.

Also, pop-into local salons and get treatments there, explain what you’re doing and ask them about what type of people they look for. Building strong connections before you apply somewhere is beneficial.

If the opportunity arises, you could ask for some weekend work at a salon. They probably won’t let you perform any treatments initially, and the pay might not be great, but it’s a foot in the door.

Also, consider whether you’re going to be employed or self-employed, if you want to be self-employed it’d be a good idea to start building a client base before you leave your studies.

Want to take your nail technician dream further? Visit our Training Courses page to book your place!