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Manicurists primarily clean and shape fingernails, apply polish, provide decorative services and add nail extensions. They also evaluate the condition of their client's fingernails. They should also be knowledgeable regarding the therapeutic aspects of manicuring. A well trained manicurist has the knowledge and skills to meet industry quality standards. Most manicurists also provide pedicure treatments.

Effective manicurists make quick repeated movements of fingers, hands and wrists. The ability to keep the arms and hands steady while working on nails is another important factor. Manicurists also need good near vision in order to see the details of the fingernails. Manicurists should also be able to detect subtle differences between colors, brightness and shades.

Customer satisfaction is a major part of the job. A manicurist also needs to effectively communicate with clients regarding their assessment of the client's fingernails and also with their recommendations. In addition, they also need to be good listeners in order to meet the needs of their clients. Being able to establish a rapport with clients is essential for being successful in this business.

An effective manicurist is able to make good judgements regarding the cost and benefits of particular treatments. In addition, in most situations they must have the knowledge to determine the best treatments without receiving advice from a supervisor.

Successful manicurists typically are good at managing their time. The sales and marketing aspects of the job are also very important for success in the industry. Manicurists that have their own salon should have training in operating a small business.


Manicurists typically are responsible for a variety of procedures and duties including:

  • Clean and sanitize the client's hands
  • Remove old polish
  • Apply an undercoating and polish onto the customer's nails
  • Shape artificial nails
  • Shape and smooth edges with a rotary wheel
  • Utilize files, scissors and emery boards to shape and smooth the end portions of customer's nails
  • Soften and trim fingernail cuticles
  • Decorate fingernails with designs or by attaching ornaments
  • Provide advice to customers regarding proper nail care and the correct use of products
  • Evaluate the condition of a customer's hands and remove dead skin and massage the hands
  • Provide treatments to nails to increase their strength
  • Take precautions to prevent viruses from forming underneath the fingernails during treatments with tools
  • Make sure the work setting and tools are sanitized
  • Maintain inventory supplies
  • Keep records of services provided to clients
  • Schedule appointments
  • Sell nail care products

Job Characteristics

Social contact is a major part of the job. Manicurists are also in constant physical contact with clients. Occasionally they're exposed to customers' diseases and infections. In addition, they continually work with contaminants, including nail polish remover and cleansers.

Manicurists jobs are suited for people who enjoy working with the public and have the ability to establish positive relationships with clients. Making independent decisions is an important aspect of the job. Also, manicurists must be comfortable with continually performing the same tasks during a given day and sitting for long periods of time.

Manicurists have the opportunity to work part-time or full-time. They may be required to work during the evenings and on the weekends. Often they are provided with flexible schedules.

Employment Outlook

Growth in the population and with the population's income will increase the demand for manicuring services. In addition, the percentage of men getting manicures is increasing. By 2016 the number of jobs for manicurists is projected to be about 100,000.

For manicurists seeking higher paying positions at upscale salons, the competition for employment is high. Also, those looking for career advancement sometimes go back to school and become cosmetologists while some seek employment as sales representatives with cosmetic companies.

Manicurist Training, Certification, and Licensing

Typically, manicurists are required to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate and complete the manicure classes provided in a cosmetology program. Manicurists must also pass a licensing exam. The vast majority of manicurists have completed a training program.

Many technical and career-focused schools offer cosmetology programs. These programs typically blend classroom learning with hands-on training. A typical manicuring program is completed in three months. Sometimes additional training is provided at the employment setting.

High school students seeking employment as a manicurist after graduation will benefit from taking health education courses. A large number in the profession are self-employed and will benefit from taking courses in accounting, introduction to business and entrepreneurship.

Along with the necessary skills, employers typically hire manicurists that can easily follow the client's instructions, communicate well with clients and enjoy working with the public. Image and a positive attitude are also important to employers.

The median hourly wage for manicurists was $10.59 in 2007 and the median annual wage was $22,020. Some manicurists work for commissions while others earn a salary. Manicurists receive tips and some earn a commission on products they sell. Some salon owners offer bonuses to manicurists that bring in new clients.

A manicurist's ability to bring in and keep clients are major factors for determining earnings. The location of the salon and the size of the tips are also significant factors. Also, some salons offer their full-time manicurists health insurance and paid vacations.

Major Employers

Nail salons, beauty shops and full-service spa salons are the major employers for manicurists. Some manicurists are self-employed.

Schools for Manicurists And Pedicurists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Manicurists and Pedicurists Skills

Below are the skills needed to be manicurists and pedicurists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening32.75
Service Orientation32.62
Social Perceptiveness32.62
Active Learning2.752.25

Manicurists and Pedicurists Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be manicurists and pedicurists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Near Vision3.53.12
Arm-Hand Steadiness3.123.12
Finger Dexterity3.123
Manual Dexterity32.38
Oral Expression32.75

Manicurists and Pedicurists Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be manicurists and pedicurists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Customer and Personal Service3.373.51
English Language2.643
Administration and Management2.592.31
Personnel and Human Resources2.472.47
Sales and Marketing2.442.49

Manicurists and Pedicurists Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being manicurists and pedicurists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public3.453.3
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships3.23.88
Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others3.012.52
Assisting and Caring for Others2.972.43
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge2.732.39

Manicurists and Pedicurists Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being manicurists and pedicurists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail3.78
Self Control3.71
Stress Tolerance3.64

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Manicurists and Pedicurists

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Manicurists and Pedicurists jobs , as of 2019

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim8,960$27,450
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward3,720$29,490
San Diego-Carlsbad2,640$26,750
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario1,830$27,290
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach1,360$25,700
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara1,130$30,240

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to manicurists

Source : 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 24.3 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Manicurists and Pedicurists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.