Manicurists and Pedicurists

Career, Salary and Education Information

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  • Nail Technician - PRO Sports Club - Bellevue, WA

    Communicates to guests on what products are being used on them and explains the benefits. - Adheres to all state regulations in regard to licensing

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What Manicurists and Pedicurists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Manicurists and pedicurists clean, shape, and beautify fingernails and toenails.

Duties of Manicurists and Pedicurists

Manicurists and pedicurists typically do the following:

  • Discuss nail treatments and services available
  • Remove nail polish
  • Clean, trim, and file nails
  • Reduce calluses and rough skin
  • Massage and moisturize hands (for a manicure) and feet (for a pedicure)
  • Polish or buff nails
  • Advise clients about nail and skin care for hands and feet
  • Promote and sell nail and skin care products
  • Clean and disinfect their work area and tools

Manicurists and pedicurists work exclusively on the hands and feet, providing treatments to groom fingernails and toenails. A typical treatment involves soaking the clients' hands or feet to soften the skin in order to remove dead skin cells. Manicurists and pedicurists apply lotion to the hands and feet to moisturize the skin. They also may shape and apply polish to artificial fingernails.

Manicurists and pedicurists use a variety of tools, including nail clippers, nail files, and specialized cuticle tools. They must be focused while they perform their duties, because most of the tools they use are sharp. Keeping their tools clean and sanitary is important.

Some manicurists and pedicurists operate their own nail salon, which requires performing business tasks such as keeping inventory records and ordering supplies. They also hire and supervise workers and sell nail care products, such as nail polish and hand or foot cream. A small but growing number of workers make house calls. Mobile manicure and pedicure services are popular because clients consider them convenient.

Work Environment for Manicurists and Pedicurists[About this section] [To Top]

Manicurists and pedicurists hold about 126,300 jobs. The largest employers of manicurists and pedicurists are as follows:

Personal care services 70%
Self-employed workers 28

Manicurists and pedicurists usually work in a nail salon, spa, or hair salon. The job involves a lot of sitting. Manicurists and pedicurists who provide mobile services may travel to their clients' locations.

Manicurists and pedicurists use chemicals when working on fingernails and toenails, so they often wear protective clothing, including protective gloves and masks.

Manicurist and Pedicurist Work Schedules

Although most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, many have variable schedules and work part time. Schedules may vary according to the type of establishment. For example, a full-service salon may require manicurists and pedicurists to work an 8-hour day. However, a boutique hair salon may require fewer work hours on a part-time basis. Longer work days are not unusual for self-employed workers. Weekends and evenings tend to be the busiest times for manicurists and pedicurists.

How to Become a Manicurist or Pedicurist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Manicurists and Pedicurists near you!

Manicurists and pedicurists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program and then pass a state exam for licensure, which all states except Connecticut require.

Education for Manicurists and Pedicurists

Manicurists and pedicurists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program. Currently, there are hundreds of programs nationwide.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Manicurists and Pedicurists

State licensing requirements vary. However, applicants need to be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or the equivalent. After completing a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program, manicurists and pedicurists must take a written exam and a practical exam to get a license through their state board. Mobile manicure and pedicure services require a separate license.

The National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology provides information on state examinations for licensing, with sample questions. The Professional Beauty Association and the American Association of Cosmetology Schools also provide information on state examinations, as well as offering other professional links.

Important Qualities for Manicurists and Pedicurists

Business skills. Manicurists and pedicurist who run their own nail salon must understand general business principles. For example, they should be skilled at administrative tasks, such as accounting and personnel management, and be able to manage a salon efficiently and profitably.

Creativity. The ability to neatly finish small, intricate designs is important, as is the ability to suggest nail designs and match them to individual tastes.

Customer-service skills. Good listening and interpersonal skills are important in working with clients. Also, meeting the needs of clients, including interacting with them while doing a manicure or pedicure, encourages repeat business.

Dexterity. A steady hand is essential in achieving a creative and precise nail design. In addition, because manicurists and pedicurists often use sharp tools, they must have good finger dexterity.

Manicurist and Pedicurist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median hourly wage for manicurists and pedicurists is $10.65. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.04, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $16.15.

The median hourly wages for manicurists and pedicurists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Personal care services $10.65

Although most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, some have variable schedules and work part time. Schedules may vary according to the type of establishment. For example, a full-service salon may require manicurists and pedicurists to work an 8-hour day. However, a boutique hair salon may require fewer work hours on a part-time basis. Longer work days are not unusual for self-employed workers. Weekends and evenings tend to be the busiest times for manicurists and pedicurists.

Job Outlook for Manicurists and Pedicurists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of manicurists and pedicurists is projected to grow 12 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.

The projected increase in employment reflects demand for new types of nail services, such as mini-sessions (quick manicures at a low cost) and mobile manicures and pedicures (nail services offered outside of the salon).

The desire among many women and a growing number of men to lead a healthier lifestyle through better grooming and wellness also should result in higher employment for manicurists and pedicurists.

Considered a low-cost luxury service, manicures and pedicures will continue to be in demand by individuals at all income levels.

Job Prospects for Manicurists and Pedicurists

Job opportunities should be very good overall. The growing number of nail salons and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year will result in many job openings.

Employment projections data for Manicurists and Pedicurists, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Manicurists and pedicurists 126,300 141,400 12 15,200


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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