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


We’ve created this 8-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.


What is a Nail Technician?

how to become a nail technician

A nail technician helps people 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.

I love pampering myself, so going for a massage or getting a mani-pedi makes me feel instantly better. When my nails are done I feel so much better – it’s the little things that make me so happy, and you literally feel polished — Jessica Lowndes, 90210

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


Step 1: Research the Industry

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:

  • History — are you aware of the rich history of nail tech? It’s a practice that spans thousands of years, and you should learn about all the key events that have happened over time
  • 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 the maintenance of the feet, you could choose this as your area of expertise. Watch the video below, the channel owner clearly specialises in toenail reconstruction with some disgusting before and beautiful after pics!


Step 2: Consider Your Style & Personality

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?



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, funky design, 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


Step 3: Understand the Skills You Need to Succeed

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 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.


Step 4: Understand What Tasks You’ll Be Performing

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
how to be a nail technician

Step 5: Get Qualified!

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 self-teaching.

If you want to take an apprenticeship, you may have to take a beauty therapy apprenticeship and specialise in nails after its completion.

If you’re more drawn to an NVQ you can take a nail technician course at level 1, 2 or 3; and if you want to self-teach, you can create a curriculum and learn yourself!


Step 6: Learn From Industry Professionals & Practise

While you should always take advice from 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.

That’s why it’s important to know who the best techs in the industry are, and what knowledge you can soak up from them.

Britney Tokyo, who’s worked with Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Baldwin, says:

I think men’s nail art is the future, if not already the present. Half of my customers are currently male, and not just cuticle care customers. They are doing nail art!

becoming a nail technician

Once you’ve taken all the knowledge and inspiration from the people you admire, put it into practise and try the techniques on your friends and family.


Step 7: Get Your Kit

If you decide to do your NVQ with a beauty salon training provider, they may provide a kit for you. However, if you don’t have that luxury, this is hat you’ll need:

  • Acrylic brush
  • Nail clippers
  • Acrylic powder
  • Acrylic nail tips
  • Nail cleanser
  • Nail polish remover
  • Nail polish
  • Hand soap
  • Manicure bowl
  • Moisturiser
  • Nail file kit
  • Nail glue
  • Nail buffer blocks
  • Cuticle oil
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Cuticle Clipper
  • Toe separators
  • Foot file
  • Salon smock
  • Glitter, patterns, gems and stickers

It can soon spiral out of control, so get the basics first and build your collection over time.

Buy your equipment in our online shop.


Step 8: Start Planning for Life After Studying

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-in to 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 t start building a client base before you leave your studies.


Here’s a Quick Recap of Those 8 Steps:

  1. Research the Industry
  2. Consider Your Style & Personality
  3. Understand the Skills You Need to Succeed
  4. Understand What Tasks You’ll Be Performing
  5. Get Qualified!
  6. Learn From Industry Professionals & Practise!
  7. Get Your Kit
  8. Start Planning for Life After Studying

Do you want to start 2019 by learning a new skill?

Posh Nailz offer various, high standard courses that help you on your way to create you own profession career in the beauty industry. For course start dates for our training centres contact us now.
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