Manicurists and pedicurists clean, shape, and beautify fingernails and toenails.
Manicurists and pedicurists typically do the following:
- Discuss nail treatments and services available
- Remove nail polish and rough skin
- Clean, trim, and file nails
- 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 may also 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 business. They manage the daily decision-making 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, to clients. A small, but growing, number of workers make house calls. Their mobile manicure and pedicure services are popular because clients consider them convenient.
Manicurists and pedicurists held about 86,900 jobs in 2012, of which 69 percent were in the personal care services industry. About 27 percent were self-employed, many running their own nail salon business.
Manicurists and pedicurists usually work in a nail salon, spa, or hair salon. The job involves a lot of sitting. Those who own a mobile grooming company must travel to their clients’ homes.
Manicurists and pedicurists use chemicals when working on fingernails and toenails, so they often wear protective clothing, including protective gloves and masks.
Although most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, many have variable schedules and work part time. Their schedules are often determined by the type of establishment. For example, a full-service salon may require manicurists and pedicurists to work an 8-hour day. A boutique hair salon, however, may require shorter work hours on a part-time basis. Longer hours are not unusual for self-employed workers. Weekends and evenings tend to be the busiest times for manicurists and pedicurists.
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.
Manicurists and pedicurists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program. Currently, there are hundreds of programs nationwide.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
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.
The National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) provides information on state examinations for licensing, with sample questions. The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) and the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) also provide information on state examinations, as well as offering other professional links.
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 and match nail designs 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. Also, because manicurists and pedicurists often use sharp tools, they must have good finger dexterity.
The median hourly wage for manicurists and pedicurists was $9.24 in May 2012. 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 $8.00 per hour, and the top 10 percent earned more than $14.21 per hour.
Although most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, many have variable schedules and work part time. Their schedules often are determined by the type of establishment they work for. For example, a full service salon may require manicurists and pedicurists to work an 8-hour day. A boutique hair salon, however, may require shorter work hours on a part-time basis. Longer hours are not unusual for self-employed workers. Weekends and evenings tend to be the busiest times for manicurists and pedicurists.
Employment of manicurists and pedicurists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.
The increase in employment reflects demand for new nail services being offered, such as minisessions (quick manicures at a low cost) and mobile manicures and pedicures (house calls).
The desire among young women and a growing number of men to lead a healthier lifestyle through better grooming and wellness should also 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 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.
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For information about state licensing, practice exams and other professional links, visit