nail technician

How to Qualify as a Nail Technician

gel nails done by a nail technician

Nail technicians are always in demand, and qualified ones even more so. Although anyone can practice and become a nail technician, without any formal study, having a recognised qualification gives you far more options.

It allows you to start your dream business, doing what you enjoy, or have a better chance of finding employment, especially better-paid positions.

Qualified nail technicians find work in salons, spas, gyms, theatres, television, on fashion shoots, even traveling the world on cruise ships. For many salons, and especially higher-end jobs, being qualified allows you to stand out against other candidates and demand better roles.

Being qualified allows you to get insurance

Accredited qualifications such as those by ABT and VTCT allow you to gain insurance, important if you can work as a home or mobile nail technician. You can work without it, but it’s always best to cover yourself, especially when working from home. Most reputable nail specialists working in their own businesses have this kind of insurance.


Become qualified at any time

There are no barriers to becoming a nail technician and for many courses, no experience is required. People choose to take nail courses from 16, right up to retirement age, often as their second or third career. They go on to work full time, part-time, and self-employed – it’s very flexible and the work never dries up. Many people get their nails done monthly if not twice a month, there’s plenty of work for qualified nail specialists – it’s one of the reasons so many people go into the nail industry every year.


What qualifications are available?

In the UK nail technicians typically choose from one of three levels of NVQ depending on their experience:

Level 1 NVQ

A basic qualification for beginners. This allows the student to train to provide basic treatments and work as an assistant to professional nail technicians, preparing advanced treatments. Most people who complete a level 1 course go on to study at a higher level to increase their prospects.

No experience is required to start a level 1 nail course.

Level 2 NVQ

The most common qualification for nail technicians in the UK. Most nail technicians working in salons have a level 2 NVQ qualification (51.7%), it is the minimum level expected by many salon employers.

A level 2 qualification is an intermediate level that allows nail technicians to provide a range of nail treatments independently, it goes into depth about a wide range of services including manicures, pedicures, health and safety, nail art and other enhancements. Level 2 courses also provide foundational knowledge about nail, hand and foot anatomy which can prove valuable in a variety of situations.

Some course providers may require a level 1 qualification to begin, however, enrolment can be achieved with no experience after a successful interview and skills assessment.

Level 3 NVQ

These courses teach advanced techniques for people already working in the nail industry, often those who want to work at supervisor level. Much of what is learned in level 3 courses is for non-routine and complex activities with far greater levels of responsibility.

In the fast-paced and increasingly competitive beauty industry, qualification requirements are becoming more demanding. A growing number of salons are now looking for level 3 qualified nail specialists.

There are many accreditation providers in the UK, including VTCT, ABT and CIBTAC. Look out for one of these recognised names when looking for a qualified nail course.


Not sure where to begin? Try a taster course

You might be interested in gel polish, nail art or acrylics.

There are many taster courses you can try before committing to a full NVQ. This can give you an idea of where you might like to progress next and also give you a strong starting point for completing a qualified course.

There’s plenty of options, gel polish, gel nail extensions, acrylic nails, fibreglass and silk nails, carpenters nails.

You don’t need to know them all, some people choose to go down the specialist route and others who want better salon work may choose to study more. Salons are always interested in people who can do more, it means that can offer more treatments to their clients.

class=”western”>Choosing the right beginner nail course.


What skills does a nail technician need?

  • Excellent customer service
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience and concentration
  • Good communication skills
  • Good working with hands


Can you become a qualified nail technician online?

From 2020 onwards, since the world turned upside down and most of us became stuck at home quarantined, online training has become a lot more attractive, and in many cases necessary. It’s nothing new to be able to gain a recognised nail qualification remotely, we’ve been able to take such courses for a number of years, but it is definitely more desirable now than it ever was.

Many short nail courses offer the entire course online, you can become fully qualified without having to attend any practical days, or indeed leave home! Some more comprehensive courses might provide most of the theory online and have a limited number of days in a salon or classroom setting to put everything into practice.

The great thing about online nail courses is that they can be done in your own time, from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you have internet access really. Often you can start an online course with little notice, compared to waiting for classes to start at a training centre for instance.


Take your time, do your research

Don’t feel the need to rush out headfirst into an accredited course, take your time and weigh up the different options. Find the course materials that interest you most and will allow you to progress further in your nail career. If you’re not sure about committing to a full NVQ, why not start with a short taster course? This will allow you do vastly develop your knowledge of professional nail techniques and help you to determine what best course to take. Good luck and have fun!


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