Our guide to nail technician

Published April 28 2014

Nails have always been prominent in culture. From the early societies of China and Egypt, using mixtures to stain their nails, to the introduction of synthetic nail polish in the 1920s in Paris, the healthy condition and decoration of nails have depicted status and beauty within society. Now, in the modern era, people are infatuated by their nails more than ever before. This has created new careers for those who are passionate about all things to do with nails. If nails are a personal passion of yours then a nail technician course can help pave a way to a career of your dreams.


What is a nail technician?

A nail technician is an expert in health and beauty who works to improve the condition of their customers’ hands and decorate their nails. This can involve anything from fixing and cleaning nails, to drawing intricate patterns that will reflect the fashion of the customer. As a nail technician you will inspect the hands of your customer to see if there are any changes you would suggest, you will then discuss with them what they would like carried out. Jobs you can expect as a nail technician include:

  • Manicures and pedicures.
  • Cleaning and filing nails.
  • Checking and treating any diseases or problems with nails.
  • Applying and removing false nails and extensions.
  • Decorating nails with patterns, varnish, gems and glitter.
  • Painting designs onto nails with an airbrush.


What will I learn?

On a nail technician course you will learn, in great detail, everything about maintaining and curing the health of nails, and also the different techniques and skills required to decorate nails. This is much harder than it sounds, especially nail art. Nail art is considered by many as an art so you will be taught methods similar to those you’d find in courses such fine art. Many courses will also include business lessons into their course so you can potentially work for yourself on completion.

The great thing about nail technician courses is that many offer qualifications at the end. You can get NVQ qualifications from level one to level three which will all look great on your CV and show potential employers that you have the knowledge and ability to work for them.


A career as a nail technician

To become a nail technician there are no specific requirements however there is a lot of competition for jobs, the qualifications and certificates you receive from extra courses will put you ahead of the other candidates. Once you land that first job you can expect to work in a salon with other technicians, beauticians and hairdressers. Despite your qualification you will most likely undertake training at first so you can learn the specific methods of that company. You will usually work nine till five and for your first job, earn around £12,000. As your career progresses and you gain more experience your salary can rise from anywhere up to £16,000 to £25,000. Building your expertise and taking other courses can help increase your salary; manicure, pedicure and nail art courses will increase your demand as a nail technician.

Increased experience and building on your CV will give you the opportunity to start working for yourself and maybe even open your own beauty salon. Before you do this you may wish to take some extra courses in business administration and personal finance, so you can learn what it takes to be a successful self employed nail technician.


A brief history of nail art

Interest in the condition and decoration of nails has been around since the societies of the ancient world, here some interesting facts about the progression of nail art:

  • Nail art originated in 3,000 BC in Ancient China. The nail polish was made from a combination of beeswax, egg whites, gelatine, vegetables dyes, rose petals and gum. The Chinese would dip their nails in the mixture until they turned red or pink
  • In Ancient Egypt, henna, a flowering plant used as a natural dye, was used to dye fingernails and it still is in many places today.
  • The colour of nail polish reflected social rank in Ancient Egypt. Gold, silver, black and red were the preferred colours. Cleopatra was known to wear red nail polish.
  • By 1830 manicure tools had evolved and a doctor named Sits, was the first to use an orange tree file on his patients.
  • Cutex produced the first modern nail varnish in 1917.
  • Today, nail art, and its increasing popularity, has become a real art in its own right. Some nail technicians and artists are paid to create beautiful patterns for photo shoots and magazine front covers.