Nail technician career

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Tracy Murray works in a nail bar in a large Glasgow department store. As a trained beauty therapist, Tracy watched the growth of nail bars in Scotland and saw the chance to specialise. Eventually, she wants to own her own chain of stores.

How would you outline your role?

I improve the look of people's hands and feet. I advise people on what products they should be using at home and how they can maintain their nails and hands properly.

What are your main responsibilities?

I take bookings, sell products and carry out a range of treatments – from a 15 minute file and polish to a full manicure lasting half an hour. I do nail extensions and nail art, using different art techniques like stencils and freestyle painting. Sometimes, people want a special treatment for a wedding, or they may just want a paraffin wax to soften and condition their hands.

What hours do you work?

I work from 9.30am to 5pm on weekdays and until 5.30pm or 6pm on Saturdays. I have one day off during the week, as well as Sunday.

What is your working environment like?

There is a really busy, bustling atmosphere in the department store. The nail bar is in the beauty department, which is very clean and bright and full of great products! I work with five other nail technicians, all of whom offer the full range of treatments.

What special skills or qualities do you need for your job?

You need to have a steady hand and a good eye for what will suit the individual. Strong communication skills are important. Obviously you have to look well groomed and be able to sell the different services and products properly.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I like the variety and creativity involved. I find this area of beauty therapy the most interesting.

What training have you done?

Apart from my HND in Beauty Therapy – which included manicure training and extensions – I have had various in-house product training. You always have to keep up to date with the latest products and styles.

Do you use any tools or equipment?

I use a full manicure set, which contains scissors, a buffer, nippers, a nail file, a hoof stick and an airbrush.

What do you like most about your job?

I really enjoy working with people. No two clients are the same. There is also a lot of scope for creativity.

How do you see your future?

Ultimately, I'd like to become an area manager looking after several stores, which would involve management, administrative and human resources activities.

What are the particular challenges in your work?

Sometimes it is hard persuading people what's best for them and managing their expectations. Nail biters often have nails that are too short for many treatments. A broken nail will spoil the chance of creating a symmetrical look, which is crucial, so you have to advise on alternatives.

Tracy's route to becoming a Nail technician

  • H grades.
  • HND in Beauty Therapy.
  • Beauty therapist.

Tracy's nail technician tips

  • Always be reliable.
  • Know your products and learn how to sell.

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Nail technician salary

  • A newly-qualified nail technician may earn around £9,500.
  • With further experience, this could rise to £10,000.
  • Experienced nail technicians can earn £12,000 or more.

Getting a job as a Nail technician

  • There are no minimum qualifications to become a nail technician, although salons are likely to require NVQ/SVQ qualifications.
  • Nail techniques are taught in many colleges. There are usually no specific entry requirements, although a manicure course might be required to study advanced techniques. The Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT) offers a Level 2 Certificate in Nail Treatments, which includes nail art and nail technology. This may provide a basis for further training.
  • City & Guilds offer NVQ/SVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Nail Services.
  • It may be possible to obtain an Apprenticeship (Skillseekers in Scotland), leading to NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Nail Services.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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