If ever the time was ripe for a national standard for nail technician licensing, it is now. The spotlight is shining very brightly on the nail industry at this moment – particularly with public concerns over salon sanitation and chemical safety. There is a perception that this industry is unprofessional (an opinion that comes from inside and outside), and it is due in large part to the lack of standardized educational and licensing requirements for nail practitioners. Although developing a national standard for licensing nail technicians isn’t the answer to all the industry’s woes, it is the right first step.
An educational standard should be based on the highest common denominators of the states that do require nail-specific licensing. Licensing requirements should focus not only on the pre-professional training of practitioners, but also emphasize continuing advanced education.
Instructors should be required to pass a practical state board exam similar to (if not the same as) the one they teach students to pass. While it is not practical (or necessary) for all nail school instructors to be practicing nail technicians, they should be competent in the techniques they are teaching. Continuing education hours for instructors in the areas of technology and educational techniques should be required.
We favor the abolishment of the specialized licenses required by some states for salon ownership. Many states do not accept a nail technician’s license for salon ownership; they instead require a cosmetology license. We believe that the restriction should be abolished unless specialized business management training is part of the cosmetology license curriculum.
We support efforts by the state boards and the Nail Manufacturers Council to develop reasonable sanitation guidelines for all nail salons, but we argue that without the power of enforcement, the guidelines remain a gentle reminder and nothing more.
Finally, we support the Nails Industry Association’s efforts to develop a comprehensive certification program for licensed nail technicians. We believe that continuing education, judged y standards set by nail technicians themselves, will do much to raise the overall standards of this industry’s true professionals and long-term practitioners.