Nail Technician Courses and Training Programs

Nail technicians care for their client's hands and feet, and they unleash their creativity by applying artificial nails. Learn how to enter this profession and what kinds of classes you could complete in your training program.

What You Need to Know

Nail technicians are required to be licensed before they work. You can prepare for your licensing exam by completing either a certificate program or an associate's degree. Depending upon the program you choose, you will cover subjects such as nail care, cosmetology and business. Due to the hands-on nature of this field, you may want a training program that provides in-person training options.

Schools Make sure you select a program that meets the standards of the Board of Cosmetology. You may also want to find a program that offers internships.
Programs Certificate and associate's degrees are available
Courses Nail diseases and disorders, bacteriology, infection control procedures and sanitation, ethics, occupational health standards, salon safety, client service, small business management, nail care and introduction to cosmetology

How Can I Prepare to Become a Nail Technician?

You may choose one of two paths to become a nail technician. You could complete a nail technician certificate program or earn an associate's degree program in cosmetology. Either one will prepare you to take your state's licensing examination, which is required to work as a nail technician in a spa, beauty salon or nail shop. Certificate programs typically take less time to complete, helping you enter the workforce faster. However, an associate's degree program will teach you a broader range of personal-care skills.

What Can I Learn in a Certificate Program?

To learn the basics of being a nail technician, you'll take health and business classes in addition to courses specific to nail care. Health courses might cover nail diseases and disorders, bacteriology, infection control procedures and sanitation. Business courses might include ethics, occupational health standards, salon safety, client service and small business management. Nail care courses might teach you about the following subjects:

  • Acrylic nail enhancements
  • Electric filing
  • Hand, arm and foot massage
  • Manicure and pedicure procedures
  • Nail wraps and tips
  • No-light gels
  • Ultraviolet and light-cured gels

What Can an Associate's Degree Program Teach Me?

Associate's degree programs in cosmetology may allow you to specialize in nail care, in addition to learning about hair and skin techniques. In that case, you'll take courses specific to nail care. Similar to those taught in a certificate program, the classes should cover the steps to giving manicures and pedicures.

Additionally, you may learn the following:

  • How to identify nail diseases
  • How to prevent the spread of diseases by adhering to sanitation procedures
  • Introduction to cosmetology
  • How to care for a client's feet, hands, toes and fingers

How Can I Pick a Program?

Check with the Board of Cosmetology of the state in which you'll work to make sure any program you consider meets the licensing requirements. Find out if you need to complete specific prerequisites to enter a program; for example, some certificate programs will admit high school students, while others require applicants to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some associate's degree programs may require you to have completed a certificate program in a cosmetology-related topic.

Being a nail technician requires you have to good people skills, creativity and manual dexterity. A good way for you to sharpen these skills is through an internship or apprenticeship program. Look for programs that offer hands-on instruction or allow you to work with clients while you study.

Some schools that offer training and degree programs for nail technicians include:

  • Saint Paul College
  • Johnson County Community College
  • Kirtland Community College
  • Highland Community College
  • Ogden-Weber Technical College