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


Manicurists and pedicurists typically do the following:

  • Discuss nail treatments and services available
  • Remove clients' nail polish, if any
  • Clean, trim, and file nails
  • Soften calluses and remove rough skin
  • Massage and moisturize hands (for a manicure) and feet (for a pedicure)
  • Polish or buff nails
  • Apply or remove artificial nails and nail art
  • Advise clients about nail and skin care for hands and feet
  • Clean and disinfect their work area and tools

Manicurists and pedicurists, sometimes called nail technicians, work exclusively on the hands and feet to groom fingernails and toenails. A typical service involves soaking the clients’ hands or feet to soften the skin in order to remove dead skin cells and artificial nails. Manicurists and pedicurists apply lotion to the hands and feet to moisturize the skin. They also may shape and apply polish to natural fingernails or toenails or apply and decorate artificial fingernails.

Manicurists and pedicurists use equipment that includes nail clippers, nail files, and cuticle tools. They must be focused while they perform their duties, because most of the tools they use are sharp. They keep their tools clean and sanitary and follow health regulations to protect consumer safety.

Some manicurists and pedicurists operate their own nail salon, which requires performing business tasks such as keeping inventory and ordering supplies. They also hire and supervise workers and may sell nail care products, such as nail polish and hand or foot cream.

Work Environment

Manicurists and pedicurists held about 163,600 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of manicurists and pedicurists were as follows:

Personal care services 75%
Self-employed workers             24

Manicurists and pedicurists usually work in a nail salon, spa, or hair salon. The job involves a lot of sitting. A small number of manicurists and pedicurists make house calls, traveling to their clients' locations to provide mobile services. However, mobile services may not be widely available.

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

Work Schedules

Most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, although part-time work is common. Schedules may vary and often include evenings and weekends. Some manicurists and pedicurists work more than 40 hours per week. Self-employed workers often set their own schedules.

Education and Training

Manicurists and pedicurists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program and then pass a state exam for licensure.


Manicurists and pedicurists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program. These programs usually involve classroom and hands-on training. For a list of approved programs, contact your state licensing agency.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

State licensing requirements vary but usually include completing a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program and passing a state exam. Applicants also may need to be at least 16 or 18 years old and have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Check with your state licensing agency for details.

Under state reciprocity agreements, licensed manicurists and pedicurists may be able to 

Personality and Interests

Manicurists and pedicurists typically have an interest in the Building, Helping and Persuading interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Helping or Persuading interest which might fit with a career as a manicurist and pedicurist, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Manicurists and pedicurists should also possess the following specific qualities:

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 $14.05 in May 2021. 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 $10.72, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.67.

In May 2021, the median hourly wages for manicurists and pedicurists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Personal care services            $14.05

Most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, although part-time work is common. Schedules may vary and often include evenings and weekends. Some manicurists and pedicurists work more than 40 hours per week. Self-employed workers often set their own schedules.

Job Outlook

Employment of manicurists and pedicurists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 26,600 openings for manicurists and pedicurists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


The projected increase in employment reflects demand for 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 is expected to 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.

For More Information

For information about manicurists and pedicurists, including cosmetology and nail technician schools and state licensing, visit

American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS)

Beauty Schools Directory

National–Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC)

For information about other professional links, visit

Professional Beauty Association (PBA)




Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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