The Savvy Spa Boss

What’s this season’s must-have accessory for the trendiest girl?

A pair of Céline frames?

No, the ladies are now making a fresh statement without spending a fortune. They’re rocking a set of boldly crafted nails!

From intricately hand-painted designs to incorporating 3D elements, the popularity of nail art has surged tremendously. The good news? If you’re a professional nail technician, you are in high demand.

The bad news? Well, you’ve got a lot of competition out there. And, I mean A LOT.

On the bright side, if you can find a way to set yourself apart from the rest of the nail technicians out there, your future as a nail technician will become a pretty lucrative venture.

What is the earning potential of a nail technician in the US?

A nail technician usually works from a salon or a spa. Nail technicians operating their own company will either work in-home or be pretty mobile in meeting with their clients.

A nail technician’s earnings can range substantially, depending on a number of factors:

  • Employment type: part-time vs. full-time
  • Seniority level based on years of experience
  • Geographic location: wages vary by state and area

According to Beauty CE, nail technicians in Columbia, S. C., earned the most in 2015 with the average pay of over $40,000 per year.

How much does a nail technician make per hour?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for a nail technician in the US was $11.17 as of May 2017.

What is the average yearly salary for a nail technician in the US?

The average yearly salary is reported to be $26,507 and can go up to $39,435.

Do nail technicians make GOOD money?

Yes, some do.

Statistics aside, a nail technician with an impressive client list can make a pretty sizeable income.  

What do Anne Hathaway and the Olsen twins have in common? They’ve shared the same nail artist! Alicia Torello is among the list of popular celebrity nail artists in the US and is best known for her specialty as the ‘Queen of graphic nails’ (yes, you should have one too).

Check out this list of celebrity nail technicians from InStyle Magazine for some nail art inspiration!

If you want to make good money as a nail technician, you need to put in the work and build a list of regular clients that are willing to pay higher rates for the services you can offer.

Step up your game by developing your skill level, creating an impressive portfolio, and understanding how to market your services. It’s really just that simple.

If you master those three areas of focus, your brand and your client list will grow drastically.

Along with your salary, of course.

The earning potential is there. But, there are a few factors (completely out of your control) that will prevent those numbers from growing.

For now, let’s focus on what you do have control over.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a wide spectrum when it comes to the earning potential of a manicurist or pedicurist. If you want to be on the end of the spectrum with the rest of the highest paid nail technicians, you’ll have to be very specific with your goals and hold a strong sense of conviction in achieving them.

In short, maximizing your earning potential as a nail technician will largely depend on your willingness to put in the work, how well you know your worth as a nail technician, and your ability to execute an effective marketing strategy.

How do you figure out your worth as a nail technician?

There’s a lot of information on the internet. Take advantage of it.  

Learn more about the general market for the type of services you provide.

Next, be specific with your research. Become more familiar with the current market in your region for the type of services you can provide.  

Focus on these questions throughout your research:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • Which services are in high demand?
  • What is the salary of a nail technician in your region?
  • What are the rates others are charging for the same services?

Staying informed of the stats will give you more confidence in the value of your work.

You’ll also have the facts to back up the numbers whether you’re negotiating salary with a potential employer or figuring out what is an appropriate rate to charge your clients.  

After developing a better sense of your earning potential in the personal-care industry, you’ll have to ask yourself a few introspective questions:

  • What is your desired income in this field of work?
  • Which specific skills can you develop to maximize your earning potential?
  • Do you already possess the skills required to meet your desired income or will you need to invest some time and money into developing your skillset?
  • What is your speciality as a nail technician? Why are you different from your competitors?

Don’t be afraid to dream big. Figure out the exact amount you are comfortable earning as a nail technician and how much you need to earn to live your desired lifestyle.

With a better sense of your purpose, it’ll be much easier for you to set goals (long-term and short-term) and to develop the proper strategy to achieve them.

Tips for making good money as a nail technician

The demand for intricate nail art has skyrocketed in recent years.  

How could it not? Our social media feeds are constantly bombarded with some seriously captivating videos of the latest (and coolest) nail trends.

Social media shows us the sky’s the limit when it comes to the creative potential of a nail artist.

What does this tell us? The demand for a skilled nail technician isn’t going away anytime soon.

The job outlook for a nail tech is looking pretty bright: from 2016 to 2026, the employment rate is projected to grow 13%.

Let’s take a closer look at what you need to start focusing on:

1. Developing your skills

Figure out which nail art designs clients are willing to pay the most for. The easiest way to maximize your earning potential as a nail technician is to identify your target market and to develop the relevant skills to cater to this market.

Once you identify your target market, pick a specialty and become an expert at it.

Figure out your clientele.

Is your regular client going to be someone who prefers a reliable nail tech who can give them a set of natural nails? Or will your client prefer a creative nail tech that will create a one-of-a-kind design on their artificial nails? Or will your client be seeking medical-grade pedicure procedures?

Figure out your niche.

If you develop a certain level of expertise in a focused area of the mani-pedi world, you have the opportunity to be the go-to nail technician for a specialized type of service in a given region!

2. Creating an impressive portfolio

An impressive portfolio speaks for itself. Show your prospective clients what you’re capable of through a portfolio with your strongest work.

If your work is similar to any other local nail technician, then it’s likely the person with the lowest rate will get the most clients. Use your portfolio to really show people why they need to come to YOU.

Is it your ability to think outside the box? Is it your ability to create a one-of-a-kind design?

At first glance, your portfolio should showcase your mastery of the craft and what is unique about your work.

3. Building your brand

If you truly want to make good money as a nail technician, you’ll need to stop thinking of work as a job and start thinking of it more as a business.

The first step in building a lucrative business venture is cultivating your brand. Developing a brand for yourself will add legitimacy to your work as a nail technician and make it easier to grow your reputation in the industry.

What do you want to be known for?

Whether it be the quality of your work, your dedication to your clients (fitting in an emergency nail session no matter how packed your schedule is), or the reasonable rates you are chargingpick your lane and give it all you’ve got.

Establishing your own brand will also extend the reach of your services and expand your client list. When’s the last time you visited some sort of professional without looking them up on the internet? Exactly.

In 2018, anyone with a computer or smartphone has the ability to launch their own brand. But growing a brand organically and creating a strong social media presence is the difficult part.

Luckily, there are a lot of resources online that will teach you how to effectively launch a brand and how to become an expert in social media marketing!

4. Expanding your network

Figure out which resources you already have access to and where you can pull in more.

Working for yourself comes with a list of perks: making yourself a flexible schedule and having the ability to call the shots. But in lack of a sizeable client list, your earning potential will be restricted.

Luckily, there are a number of platforms out there designed to help connect professionals in the personal-care industry. Platforms such as, are designed to help those with the skills (you) maximize their earning potential by connecting them with spa owners.

Another way to open up your network is through meeting industry professionals.

But, how can meeting a competitor be beneficial?  

  • The main benefits of meeting other industry professionals:
  • Get insider news on the latest nail trends
  • They may refer clients to you if their own schedule is too busy
  • Competitors with a stronger social media following can help you can gain exposure

An easy way to expand your network is to carry business cards with you whenever you attend an event or a larger social gathering. This is a great way for your brand to gain exposure and for you to gain clients!

Take Action!

Now that you have a better sense of a nail tech’s earning potential and the formula for success – it’s time to take action! If you’re just starting out, you need to be realistic about the numbers and take advantage of your available resources.

For a newcomer in the nail tech world, SpaTemps is a great way to get your name out there. This platform aims to help industry professionals expand their network by building a list of loyal clients.

A successful brand isn’t built overnight. But with a specific goal in mind, a strong work ethic, and a strong commitment in achieving your goal, you definitely have the potential to join the rest of the highest paid nail techs out there!

About the Author: Susan O'Sullivan

Susan is a spa owner and a self proclaimed serial entrepreneur. She chases dreams full time and aims to empower the people around her to do the same. She has been through all of the highs and lows that this crazy spa industry has to offer and it is her mission to smooth the path for other spa owners and pro’s on a similar  journey.

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