Industry Legislation

The State of Nail Licensing

Varied requirements and reciprocity agreements show need for uniformity.

Nothing is “united” about licensing requirements for manicurists in the United States, as a recent survey of cosmetology regulations revealed diverse and inconsistent requirements.

Since 1985, when NAILS Magazine first published a complete listing of individual state guidelines changes have been minimal. Three years ago, for example, 12 states allowed unlicensed manicurists to perform nail services legally. While Florida, Texas and Vermont have since enacted requirements governing manicurists, Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Nebraska, New York and Virginia still allow unregulated nail care services.

Additionally, any given requirement demonstrates the diversity of regulations between states. While one state requires 150 hours of beauty school instruction, another may request 500 hours. Some states allow apprenticeships, while others do not. Many require applicants to be high school graduates, but a few have no education guidelines. Several states prefer applicants to be at least 18 years old, yet others have no minimum age requirements.

Fees for licensing and exams are equally inconsistent. Many states include processing and registration fees. In some instances, applicants pay a flat rate for examination and licensure, while other states may have separate, more expensive charges.

Reciprocity—the requirements for transferring an existing license to another state—is similar in many states, although the licensure guidelines are not.

The following survey is a complete and updated listing of the basic licensing requirements for manicurists throughout the United States. It is presented to illustrate the diversity of requirements, and the need for consistent, uniform regulations for all manicurists in all states.

Alabama—300 hours of schooling in addition to 300 hours of salon training. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least the 10th grade, $10 permit fee, $40 for exam and license. $15 renewal fee biennially. Exams scheduled the first Monday of each month. 

Reciprocity—Current license and $100 fee.

Alaska—Alaska does not require licensing for manicurists.

Arizona—New requirements include 300 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of at least 10th grade or equivalent, $35 fee for exam, $30 licensing fee and $25 yearly renewal fee. Exams scheduled monthly except in July.

Reciprocity—Current license from an approved state. Submit affidavits  certifying schooling and licensure. Current photograph required, $55 fee.

Arkansas—350 hours of schooling. No minimum age requirement. Completion of at least 10th grade, $30 for exam and license, $12 yearly renewal fee. Exams scheduled every other month.

Reciprocity—Current license and $55 fee.

California—350 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 to enrol in beauty school but must be 17 to take exam. Completion of at least 10th grade, $15 for exam and license, $12 renewal biennially. Exams offered daily except holidays.

Reciprocity—California has no reciprocal agreements.

Colorado—350 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16, Exam schedules and fees at discretion of the board.

Reciprocity—Current license and payment of fee. Verification of examination and training.

Connecticut—Although manicurists remain unlicensed, only a licensed cosmetologists/hairdresser may perform pedicures.

Delaware—125 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least eighth grade, $25 fee for exam plus $5 registration fee, $20 renewal fee biennially. Exams scheduled third Mondays of February, June and October.

Reciprocity—Current license in any state that meets or exceeds Delaware licensing requirements.

District of Columbia—125 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of at least eighth grade. Inquire for current fees. Exams scheduled second Tuesday of April, July and October.

Reciprocity—Current license and payment of fee.

Florida—Recently rescinded licensure requirements in favour of a registration program. 120 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 or high school graduate. No minimum education requirements for individuals over 16. $50 registration fee. $20 renewal biennially.

Reciprocity—Current license or proof of 120 hours of schooling and passage of exams. Acceptable records must be certified by state. Payment of fee.

Georgia—320 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 to take exam, but 16-year-olds may begin training. $45 exam fee. $30 renewal fee biennially. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license and $50 fee. Applicant must submit a notarized copy of signature.

Hawaii—350 hours of schooling or 700 hours training under supervision of a registered manicurist, cosmetologist or cosmetician. Minimum age of 16 and a high school education or equivalent. Inquire for current exam schedule and fees. Renewals on a biennial basis.

Reciprocity—Hawaii currently has no reciprocal agreements.

Idaho—300 hours schooling. Minimum age of 16 ½ , $35 exam fee, $40 licensing fee, $20 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled fourth Mondays of February, June and October.

Reciprocity—Current license or certification for a minimum of three years. Applicants must be 18 or over.

Illinois—Illinois does not require licensing for manicurists.

Indiana—200 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 17 ½ and completion of at least eighth grade. Inquire for current fees. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license and proof of current employment.

Iowa—State board does not recognize nail technicians without complete cosmetology training.

Kansas—350 hours of schooling or three months of salon work. Minimum age of 17, $15 exam fee, $24 yearly renewal fee. Exams scheduled third Mondays of February, April, June, August, October and December.

Reciprocity—Current license and proof of training or experience which meets or exceeds Kansas requirements. Applicants may have to pass an oral or demonstrative exam as required by the board. Payment of fee.

Kentucky—300 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least 10th grade, $20 exam fee, $12 licensing fee, $10 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled September through June.

Reciprocity—Kentucky has no reciprocal agreements.

Louisana-500 hours of schooling over a three-month duration. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least 10th grade. Inquire for fees. Exams scheduled twice monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license and notarized proof of 500 hours of schooling. Two current photographs, $40 fee.

Maine—New requirements do not recognize manicurists individually. 1500 hours of cosmetology schooling in no less than a nine month period. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least 10th grade, $15 exam fee, $35 license fee, $35 renewal biennially. Exams scheduled twice yearly.

Reciprocity—Maine has no reciprocal agreements pertaining to manicuring alone. Applicants must have cosmetology license.

Maryland—100 hours of schooling or three months’ apprenticeship. Minimum age of 17 which completion of at least eighth grade, $5 exam fee, $5 licensing fee, $10 renewal fee biennially. Exams scheduled weekly.

Reciprocity—Current license in any state that meets or exceeds Maryland requirements.

Massachusetts—100 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least eighth grade, $25 exam fee, $25 yearly renewal. Exams not scheduled in January, July, August or December.

Reciprocity—Must have a minimum of 100 hours actual manicuring instruction. Will only reciprocate with states administering similar exams. Transcript of school hours on official stationery and copy of diploma required.

Michigan—300 hours of schooling or six months’ apprenticeship. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least ninth grade, $25 exam fee, $15 yearly renewal. Inquire for exam dates.

Reciprocity—Current license and payment of fee. Unlicensed manicurists must show proof of experience or training which meets or exceeds Michigan requirements.

Minnesota—350 hours of schooling. No minimum age requirements, but must have high school diploma or equivalent, $50 preregistered exam fee, $67 for walk-in registration, $45 licensing fee, $30 renewal fee triennially. Exams scheduled twice monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license and 1800 hours of work experience. Applicants must pass Minnesota state law exam.

Mississippi—250 hours of schooling in six weeks or more. Minimum age of 17 and completion of at least 10th grade. Applicants must read, speak and write fluent English, $15 exam fee, $10 licensing fee, $10 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled twice or more per year at discretion of the board.

Reciprocity—Current license or proof of training and/or work experience which meets or exceeds Mississippi requirements.

Missouri—300 hours of schooling or apprenticeship. Minimum age of 18 and high school diploma or equivalent. $15 exam fee, $25 renewal biennially. Exams scheduled approximately every six weeks.

Reciprocity—Current license plus proof of experience and education which meets or exceeds Missouri requirements.

Montana—New requirements include 350 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and high school diploma or equivalent. $25 application fee for exam or license, $40 for exam and $25 licensing fee, $25 yearly renewal. Inquire for exam schedule.

Reciprocity—350 hours schooling and three years’ work experience. State board verification of current license and letters from employers to document work experience. Payment of $65 fee.

Nebraska—Nebraska does not require licensing for manicurists.

Nevada—500 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 to take exam, but training may begin earlier. Completion of at least 10th grade or equivalent. $55 exam and licensing fee, $30 renewal fee biennially. Exams scheduled approximately every five weeks.

Reciprocity—Current license and proof of passing national written exam. One year current experience within three years previous to application. Verification of employment required. payment of fee.

New Hampshire—150 hours of schooling in a six-week duration. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least 10th grade. $30 exam fee, $30 licensing fee, $20 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled twice or more yearly.

Reciprocity—Current license verified by state affidavit. No reciprocal agreements with Connecticut, California, New York or Florida, $40 fee.

New Jersey—200 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 17 and a highschool education or equivalent. $20 exam fee, $20 yearly renewal. Inquire for exam schedules.

Reciprocity—No reciprocal agreements exist for manicurists alone.

New Mexico—500 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of at least 10th grade or equivalent. $25 exam fee, $12.50 for license, $7.50 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled first Monday of every month.

Reciprocity—500 hours of schooling verified by affidavit. Applicant must be currently licensed and provide two character references in addition to a recent photograph, $100 fee.

New York—New York does not require licensing for manicurists.

North Carolina—New requirements include 150 hours schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of high school. $5 exam fee, $5 licensing fee. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license 150 hours of schooling verified by the state board. $20 fee.

North Dakota—North Dakota does not require licensing for manicurists.

Ohio—150 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least eighth grade, $16 exam fee, $14 licensing fee, $14 yearly renewal. Inquire for exam dates.

Reciprocity—Current license in any state that meets or exceeds Ohio requirements. Payment of $45 fee.

Oklahoma—300 hours of schooling over eight weeks or three months’ apprenticeship. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least eighth grade. $22 registration fee, $10 exam fee, $10 licensing fee, $10 yearly renewal.

Reciprocity—Current license and payment of $55 fee.

Oregon—350 hours of schooling. No minimum age or education requirements. $15 exam fee, $15 filing charge, $15 yearly renewal fee. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license and payment of $20 fee. All applicants must pass Oregon state board written exam.

Pennsylvania—200 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of at least 10th grade. $18 exam and licensing fee. $10 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled in January, April, July, and October.

Reciprocity—Current license and proof of two years’ employment. Payment of $25 fee.

Rhode Island—300 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of at least ninth grade. $15 exam fee, $15 licensing fee, $30 renewal biennially. Exams scheduled quarterly.

Reciprocity—Current license plus proof of above requirements. Applicants must pass national exam. $25 fee to take exam, $15 endorsement fee.

South Carolina—300 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least 10th grade. $45 exam fee, $15 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license and payment of $45 fee.

South Dakota—New requirements include 100 hours of schooling or approved apprenticeship. Minimum age of 18 and completion of high school or equivalent. $15 operator exam fee, $10 yearly renewal. Inquire for exam schedule.

Reciprocity—Current license and payment of $30 exam waiver fee.

Nebraska—Nebraska does not require licensing for manicurists.

Nevada—500 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 to take exam, but training may begin earlier. Completion of at least 10th grade or equivalent. $55 exam and licensing fee, $30 renewal fee biennially. Exams scheduled approximately every five weeks.

Reciprocity—Current license and proof of passing national written exam. One year current experience within three years previous to application. Verification of employment required. Payment of fee.

New Hampshire—150 hours of schooling in a six-week duration. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least 10th grade. $30 exam fee. $30 licensing fee. $20 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled twice or more yearly.

Reciprocity—Current license verified by state affidavit. No reciprocal agreements with Connecticut, California, New York or Florida. $40 fee.

New Jersey—200 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 17 and a highschool education or equivalent. $20 exam fee. $20 yearly renewal. Inquire for exam schedules. 

Reciprocity—No reciprocal agreements exist for manicurists alone.

New Mexico—500 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of at least 10th grade or equivalent. $25 exam fee, $12.50 for license, $7.50 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled first Monday of every month.

Reciprocity—500 hours of schooling verified by affidavit. Applicant must be currently licensed and provide two character references in addition to a recent photograph, $100 fee.

Tennessee—300 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least 10th grade, $35 exam fee, $24 licensing fee. $24 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license in addition to proof of work experience during the past five years. Payment of $50 fee.

Texas—New requirements include 150 hours of schooling over six weeks’ duration. Minimum age of 16 and completion of at least seventh grade. $25 exam fee, $25 licensing fee, $25 renewal biennially. Exams scheduled each month as needed.

Reciprocity—Current license in addition to 150 hours’ work experience. Payment of fee.

Utah—Utah does not require licensing for manicurists.

Vermont—New requirements include 150 hours of schooling or equivalent. Minimum age of 18. $10 exam fee, $10 licensing fee, $7 yearly renewal. Inquire with state for exam schedules.

Reciprocity—Current license in addition to official proof of at least 150 hours’ work experience. Applicants must pass Vermont law test. Payment of fee.

Virginia—Virginia does not require licensing for manicurists.

Washington—although standard manicures and pedicures may be performed unlicensed, only licensed manicurists may apply nail extensions or related services. Training includes skin care and hair removal techniques. Licensing requirements include 500 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 17. $25 exam and licensing fee. $10 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license in any state that meets or exceeds Washington requirements. Payment of fee.

West Virginia—500 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 18 and completion of at least eighth grade. $25 exam fee, $25 licensing fee, $25 yearly renewal. Inquire for exam schedule.

Reciprocity—Minimum 400 hours of schooling or 25 hours credited for each month of work experience. Affidavits for proof of experience must be notarized by employers. Payment of $50 fee. Applicants must take a blood test.

Wisconsin—New requirements as of January 1988 increased schooling to 300 hours. Minimum age of 18. Exams modified to include knowledge of management practices. $50 exam and licensing fee. $25 yearly renewal. Exams scheduled monthly.

Reciprocity—Current license in any state that meets or exceeds Wisconsin requirements. Payment of $40 fee.

Wyoming—New requirements include 350 hours of schooling. Minimum age of 17. Inquire for fees and exam schedule.

Reciprocity—Current license with proof of taking written and practical exams. Payment of $75 fee.

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