A long time ago, when I made up my mind to go to nail school, I picked up the phone book and called several schools. I checked their prices and visited the ones that I was considering attending. I was in my thirties, and when I visited the schools, I noticed that all of the students were younger than me. But I knew I could do it. I found my school, paid the tuition, kept my day job, and attended classes in the evening after work.

Now, with improvements in technology, you can find the best nail program for you by starting with a simple internet search. Google “nail tech program” and your city as a place to start. Visit your state cosmetology board’s website to find the school’s pass/fail rate for the state board exam. (Call the state board if they don’t publish this information online.) Then call each school that you’re interested in, and finally visit the final school choices in person. Here are some questions you should ask:

1. Do you have a designated nail instructor?
2. What exactly will you teach me? For instance, will I learn acrylics, 3-D nail art, tip overlay, gels, and fiberglass wraps?
3. What product will I be trained on (CND, OPI, Star Nail, etc.)?
4. What textbook will I be taught on?
5. Will I be assisted with job placement upon graduation?
6. What is expected of me as a student?
7. How many hours do I need to attend school before I get my student kit?
8. What is included in my kit?
9. Will I have to purchase any other supplies?
10. What is the dress code, i.e., scrubs, uniforms, closed-toed shoes?

11. Do I qualify for financial aid? (If so, make sure you understand the exact terms.)
12. If I pay cash, can I get a discount?
13. If I’m not able to graduate by my original graduation date, will I be charged more, either personally or via more financial aid?
14. Is testing (the written test and the practical test) included in my tuition?

15. How long is the program for full-time students? For part-time students?
16. What is the latest time I can clock in each day?
17. What’s the minimum and maximum number of hours per week I can clock?
18. How many absences are allowed?
19. Do you offer evening classes or a flexible schedule?

I have since gone back to school to get my instructor license, and I teach nails myself. I wish you the best of luck in your nail career.

Madelyn Johnson is an instructor at Royal Beauty School in South Houston, Texas.

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