Today’s average college student graduates $17,000 in debt, then makes $37,000 after two years on her first professional job. Nail school students don’t usually have much debt after graduating since schooling is normally about $1,200. The average nail tech makes $28,600 after two years.

I am a firm believer in college, and well over half of professional nail technicians obviously are too, as our stats show that most of you have at least some college credits. But I’d like to show that a nail care career offers an excellent option for career-oriented high-schoolers and those considering a career switch. The dollar figures make a compelling case for a nail care career.

Job demand for nail professionals is at an all-time high. There are simply more jobs available than qualified technicians to fill them. In a NAILS survey last year, full-service salon owners told us they had seen a big increase in the demand for nail care services at their salons (71% said they’ve had increased demand), but they couldn’t respond to the need because they didn’t have the staff. Nearly 60% said they found it difficult to find qualified nail technicians. Imagine the frustration to salon owners! Imagine the opportunity for good nail technicians!

The case for a nail career isn’t told only in the cost of an education. We know that it’s a preferred second career choice for many women in transition. The average nail technician is nearly 30 when she takes up doing nails. It’s certainly the business choice of many recent immigrants as it has a fairly low barrier to entry and does not necessarily require proficiency in English (and the state board exam is offered in several languages in most states).

Nail care is the choice of working moms (16% of nail techs are single moms, another 50% are married with kids), favored for its flexible scheduling, ability to operate an independent business (as a booth renter), or even the chance to work at home (nearly 11% of nail techs work out of their homes or as mobile techs). As an industry, we need to reach and cultivate the next generation of nail technicians. The figures are in our favor.

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