Money Matters

As I See It: Nail Technician Earnings Stagnant

On one hand, we are excited to finally have these detailed industry statistics, which include the employment benefits nail technicians receive, how much they spend on supplies, and what they earn in tips, among many other factors. On the other hand, it was discouraging to see that the average weekly income of professional nail technicians has dropped.

The NAILS 1994 Compensation Survey, which starts on page 82 of this issue, stirred mixed reactions in our editorial offices. On one hand, we are excited to finally have these detailed industry statistics, which include the employment benefits nail technicians receive, how much they spend on supplies, and what they earn in tips, among many other factors. On the other hand, it was discouraging to see that the average weekly income of professional nail technicians has dropped slightly (by almost $15) since we did our first study in 1992. The income loss was especially difficult to understand considering that manufacturers and distributors have been saying that business is up for them (since their business is directly connected to yours, good business for them has to start with good business for you).

We look at a number of factors to explain the stagnating income for nail technicians:

  • Nail technicians work almost an hour less per week on average than they did in 1992. At an average hourly rate for nail technicians of $9.79, that explains a good portion of the decrease.
  • Service prices have increased very slowly over the past five years. Nail professionals have historically been slow to raise service prices, and it is now showing in their long-term earning ability.
  • Although service income is down, employment benefits are up. We hear from so many salon owners that finding and keeping qualified nail technicians is one of the key challenges they face; offering attractive benefits is certainly a terrific incentive.
  • Booth renters are keeping less of their earnings and paying out a larger percentage to the salon, in addition to their booth rental.

We intend to study the whole area of salon compensation further during the course of this year. We will conduct different types of studies in addition to the general survey so that we have an even better understanding of nail technicians’ financial power.

Keywords:   As I See It     income     service pricing  



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