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Nail Technician

Nail Technician

Nail technicians care for, repair and sometimes extend nails to improve their appearance. They may also use nail art techniques to decorate nails. They offer a range of treatments, such as:

  • manicures and pedicures
  • applying artificial nail systems and extensions
  • repairing, maintaining and removing artificial nail systems
  • applying nail art, such as painted designs, stones and transfers.

Nail technicians need to:

  • prepare and clean their work area
  • talk to the client and make sure that their client is comfortable
  • follow health and safety rules
  • give advice about aftercare and suitable nail care products.

Salaries range from around £10,000 a year for a newly qualified nail technician up to £28,000 a year for some experienced technicians with management responsibilities.

Technicians' working week often includes some evenings and weekends. They work indoors, mostly sitting at a manicure workstation. Some self-employed technicians visit customers at home, or offer their services to businesses such as spas.

A nail technician should:

  • be confident
  • be able to get on well with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • have good listening skills
  • enjoy working with people
  • have an interest in fashion and accessories.

Around 17,000 UK businesses employ nail technicians, including specialist nail salons and nail bars, beauty and hairdressing salons, health clubs, spas, large department stores, hospitals, airports, luxury hotels and shopping malls. Some nail technicians are self-employed. There are opportunities to work overseas in spas, hotels and on cruise ships.

There are no set entry requirements for this work, but in many areas nail treatment businesses have to be licensed, so all employees have to be qualified. There are recognised qualifications, including NVQs, Diplomas and Certificates.

The Diploma in hair and beauty studies may be relevant. There may be Apprenticeships available. Apprentices work towards NVQ Level 2 or 3 in nail services.

All nail technicians have to keep up to date often by attending short courses offered by product manufacturers. They can take additional qualifications in areas such as nail art, skin painting, make-up, massage, ear piercing and waxing.

Some nail technicians become managers of nail salons. Many technicians aim to become self-employed. Some technicians teach nail techniques in further education colleges, or for private training providers or nail product manufacturers.

A few technicians work with photographers and fashion designers. With further training and qualifications nail technicians may go into beauty therapy or spa therapy.

What is the work like?

Nail technicians care for, repair and sometimes extend nails to improve their appearance. They may also use nail art techniques to decorate nails. Nail technicians offer a range of treatments, such as:

  • manicures and pedicures to improve the appearance of the natural nails and cuticles on the hands or feet, which may include a massage of the hand and forearm, or the foot and lower leg
  • repairing, maintaining and removing artificial nail systems
  • applying nail art, such as painted designs, stones and transfers, to natural or enhanced nails, which may also include nail piercing and airbrushing
  • applying artificial nail systems and extensions using, eg, gel nail overlays, fibreglass, and sculptured or UV cured acrylic (this includes application, setting, shaping, filing, buffing and finishing).

Technicians start by discussing with their clients the results they hope to achieve. They also ask the clients about any health problems they may have that could be affected by the treatment. Then they check the nails and the surrounding skin for signs of skin or nail disorders.

Technicians discuss various options and make recommendations. If they have concerns about the client's nails or health, they may refer them to their doctor. They record details of the consultation and any treatment on the client's record card.

As part of a treatment, nail technicians need to:

  • prepare, clean and help to look after their work area
  • talk to the client about the treatment and make sure that their client is comfortable at all times
  • follow health and safety rules on hygiene, sterilising tools and equipment, and storing and using chemicals
  • give advice about aftercare and suggest suitable nail care products.

Technicians may work alone or with other technicians, beauticians, hairdressers and therapists.

Hours and environment

Nail technicians' working week often includes some evenings and weekends. Part-time work and flexible hours are both possible.

Technicians work indoors in nail studios, treatment rooms, cubicles or salons. They spend most of their time sitting at a manicure workstation. They may wear a uniform or white coat.

Some nail technicians are self-employed and work freelance, visiting customers at home or offering their services to businesses such as spas.

A driving licence may be useful.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • A newly qualified nail technician may earn around £10,000 a year.
  • With more experience, technicians may earn £11,000 to £16,000.
  • Experienced technicians with management responsibilities may earn from £18,000 to £28,000.

Self-employed nail technicians can earn more than this, but overheads such as premises, running costs and transport affect total earnings.

Skills and personal qualities

A nail technician should:

  • be confident
  • be able to get on well with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • have good listening skills
  • be tactful and discreet
  • have good co-ordination and hand skills
  • have a smart appearance and excellent personal hygiene
  • be artistic and creative, with a good sense of colour
  • pay attention to detail
  • have an awareness of health and safety issues
  • be patient, as it can take up to two hours to apply and decorate a set of extensions
  • be methodical and well organised
  • be able to learn basic anatomy and physiology.

Interests

It is important to:

  • enjoy working with people
  • have an interest in fashion and accessories.

Getting in

The number of nail technicians has increased steadily over the past few years. Around 17,000 UK businesses employ nail technicians, including:

  • specialist nail salons and nail bars
  • beauty and hairdressing salons
  • health clubs
  • spas
  • large department stores
  • hospitals
  • airports
  • luxury hotels
  • shopping malls.

Some nail technicians are self-employed. They may have their own salon, rent space in a salon or have their own mobile business. There are also opportunities to work overseas in spas, hotels and on cruise ships.

Job vacancies may be advertised in local and national newspapers, trade magazines such as Scratch and in Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices. They may also be advertised on the websites of recruitment agencies.

Entry routes

There are no set entry requirements for this work, but in many areas nail treatment businesses have to be licensed by their local environmental health department, so all employees have to be qualified. Qualifications for licensing vary. Regulations can be checked with local environmental health departments.

Nationally recognised qualifications include:

  • NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in nail services
  • CIBTAC Level 2 Diploma in nail treatments
  • ITEC Level 3 Diploma in nail technology
  • VTCT Level 2 Certificate in nail treatments, nail art or nail technology
  • NVQ Level 3 in beauty therapy (with a specialist unit in artificial nail systems)
  • BTEC National Award, Certificate or Diploma in beauty therapy sciences (with a specialist unit in nail technology).

There are short nail treatment courses that are not supported by an awarding body and are likely not be nationally recognised. These can act as an introduction to the subject.

The Diploma in hair and beauty studies may be relevant for this work.

Some nail technicians enter through an Apprenticeship in nail services. Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and, from August 2009, pay at least £95 per week. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available on the Apprenticeship page on this website, from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Some entrants qualify in beauty therapy and then specialise in nail technology.

Training

Nail services apprentices learn from experienced nail technicians, as well as working towards NVQ Level 2 or 3 in nail services.

All nail technicians have to keep up to date with new products and new techniques. They may do this by attending short courses offered by product manufacturers.

Nail technicians can take additional qualifications to extend their skills in areas such as nail art, skin painting, make-up, massage, ear piercing and waxing. Specific nail art qualifications include:

  • ITEC Diploma in nail art at Levels 2 and 3
  • VTCT Level 2 Certificate in nail art.

Getting on

Many nail technicians aim to become self-employed. It may be possible to become a manager of a nail salon. Some technicians teach nail techniques in further education colleges, for private training providers or for nail product manufacturers. Some become NVQ assessors.

A few technicians work with photographers and fashion designers, producing spectacular nails for photo shoots or fashion shows. With further training and qualifications, nail technicians may go into beauty therapy or spa therapy. Work abroad can be possible.

Further information

British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC), Ambrose House, Meteor Court, Barnett Way, Barnwood, Gloucester GL4 3GG. 0845 065 9000. Website: www.babtac.com

Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (CIBTAC), CIBTAC Administration Office, Meteor Court, Barnett Way, Gloucester GL4 3GG. 01452 623114. Website: www.cibtac.com

Habia, Oxford House, Sixth Avenue, Sky Business Park, Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster DN9 3GG. 0845 230 6080. Website: www.habia.org

International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC), 2nd Floor, Chiswick Gate, 598-608 Chiswick High Road, London W4 5RT. 020 8994 4141. Website: www.itecworld.co.uk

VTCT, Third Floor, Eastleigh House, Upper Market Street, Eastleigh, Hampshire
SO50 9FD. 02380 684500. Website: www.vtct.org.uk

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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