Surprise! It’s often said that school does little to prepare techs for the salon environment. And it’s not only the technical challenges that may come as a surprise to the newly minted nail tech. We asked readers to fill in the blank: When I first became a tech, I was shocked to learn _______.

I was shocked to learn that I had just spent over $10,000 for cosmetology school and what they taught me didn’t even come close to preparing me to work in a salon. ~ ALICE WALLACE, Utopia Salon & Spa, Westfield, N.J.

I was shocked at how inefficient I was. School was a total joke and it in no way prepared me for the “real” world. ~ DONNA SCHUR, Nails by Donna, Huntsville, Texas

I was shocked that Connecticut didn’t license nail techs. That was 23 years ago. We still can’t get a license! ~ WENDY UPDEGRAVE, First Class Nails, East Lyme, Conn.

The first thing that surprised me was the hair/nail continuing education classes. The Midwest show is just huge! My surrounding supply houses have great classes that teach me new techniques, and I can’t believe OPI offers a cruise course. I never knew so many educational and fun things existed until pursuing a nail career. ~ KALA BASTION, Jillian’s Hairdesign, Princeton, Ill.

I was shocked to learn that the world did not beat a path to my door, I did not make $20 an hour, 40 hours a week, and nobody cared about MMA or why I didn’t use it. ~ MAGGIE FRANKLIN, Attitudes Salon, Visalia, Calif.

I was shocked at so many things I am unsure where to start! 1) Educational coursework is very limited here in Canada and there is little or no continuing education in my area. 2) Product information isn’t readily available from distributors. 3) Many people think that you get into the beauty industry because you are not smart enough to do anything else. 4) Consumers coming from discount salons have no idea about nails. ~ KELLIE WALTON, The Pink Chair Salon, Delisle, Saskatchewan, Canada

I was shocked to learn very few state inspectors are nail techs. Most inspectors have a background in cosmetology, not nails, and they do not know the world of nails. I was also surprised to find that to renew my nail tech license I had to answer questions about hair color, perms, and haircuts. ~ KAROL SINGLETON, Nails by Karol, Pinellas Park, Fla.

I was shocked to learn that just because you have your license, it doesn’t mean you are going to make $1,000 a week like they told us in school. I had to work and build clientele. I quickly learned beauty industry standards and not what they taught us in school. ~ TOPAZ WOODRUFF, The Nail Cabaret, Charlotte, N.C.

I was shocked to learn that blending tips was not necessary — that there are well-less tips that you apply directly to the natural nail’s smile line. That’s a big time saver. ~ RHONDA KIBUK, The Purple Pinkie Nail Salon, Ford City, Pa.

I was shocked to learn how nasty some folks let their feet get! ~ KELLEY KILLOP-MARBLE, Opalized Designs Studio Salon, Shelby Township, Mich.

I was shocked to learn the income-earning potential that one has in this business. We can actually give ourselves a raise whenever we choose, just by adding different services and techniques to our menus! ~ G. ELIZONDO, D’Hair To Be Different, Las Vegas

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