They give the customer a manicure and ensure that the nail is free from bacteria before applying false nails or extensions. Finally, the nails may be decorated. Methods of decoration include simple coloured varnish, gems, charms, glitter or tiny designs painted with an airbrush, either freehand or using a stencil.

Nail extensions can also be applied to the toenails.

People who get jobs as nail technicians work around 37 hours a week, which will probably include Saturdays, and possibly Sundays and evenings. They could work alone, or in a salon with other technicians, beauticians, hairdressers or therapists.

Salaries range from around £7,500 to £12,000 a year. Self-employed technicians can earn much more.

A nail technician should:

  •     enjoy working with people
  •     be artistic and creative
  •     be interested in the work and keen to learn.

Opportunities for nail technicians are growing. There are jobs in beauty or hairdressing salons and specialist nail salons as well as nail bars in large department stores, airports and shopping malls. Part-time work is often available.

It is possible to be a nail technician without formal qualifications, but many local authorities insist that nail technicians are licensed. To qualify for a licence, nail technicians must hold a nationally recognised qualification. In some areas the qualification must be a NVQ/SVQ.

Courses for nail technicians are offered by many colleges. Many courses accept students without formal qualifications. It is important to check that courses lead to a nationally recognised qualification. NVQs/SVQs are available at Levels 2 and 3 in Nail Services.

There is no maximum age to become a nail technician.

There is no formal promotion for nail technicians, but there may be opportunities to become self-employed, to teach nail techniques to others, or to work on photography and fashion shoots.