The idea of setting national licensing standards for nail techs is a big topic ans not something everyone will agree upon. I’d like to get the debate going by suggesting that national standards for the nail industry would benefit us all.

I was at an educators training program several years ago with about 20 nail techs from all over the United States. The conversation turned to licensing requirements and how different they are from state to state - including hours required, sanitation practices and procedures, continuing education hours, fines for violation, reciprocity, policies, etc. These discussions made me really start to think about not only the differences from the state to state, but the similarities as well.

Shortly after the training I was filling out my AVAs application and had to answer the question,” if there is one thing in the nail industry you could change, what would it be  and why?” I had my answer. Institute national licensing or national standards. I know i;m not alone in feeling this is an importance issue. At roundtable discussion during last year’s AVAs in Las Vegas, Similar topics were discussed. The same was true at a recent continuing education class i attended no matter state you’re from, education, sanitation, and reciprocity continue to be a hot topic of discussion.

So what can we do to make our industry better?

Most states are really trying to achieve the same goals: properly educated nail technicians, effective sanitation procedures, and good schools, just no name a few. Most of us also want to be the best nail technicians we can be, which means getting the best education.

Did you know that only one state does not require a license to do nails? Forty of the states that do require a license do not require any continuing education hours. First of all, it’s my opinion that all states should have licensing for nail technicians. Second if a license is required, CEUs should also be required. Regulations in every state change from time to time. Products and product usage changes as well. All nail technicians should be required to take classes on the changes.

I also feel strongly that all states should require sanitation classes. Still, the laws on sanitation vary from state to state. From the salon sanitation vary from state to state. From the salon owner to the nail tech to the customer, we all agree that sanitation is one of the most important things to us. When educators are from one state and teach in another they have to keep up with every state’s sanitation rules. Can’t there be equality in our laws from state to state?

Approximately 14 states offer reciprocity. And each state has different requirements for it as well. Some require passing a state exam. Some require proof of previous work hours in the other state along with that state’s license. Some have no reciprocity.

Why are there such big differences in the amount of required hours - from 12 in one state? Equality in licensing and laws would make it easier for everyone. Our industry is a $6.4 billion industry and growing. We need to be taken more seriously in the “business” world and everyone in our industry needs to join together to make this happen.

How Would It Work?

There are several different ways national standards, requirements, or licensing could be achieved. One way would be to create a higher form of license - something like a master’s degree. A nail tech already holding a state license could study and take classes on different state laws and procedures, then take a special written and practical exam offered in each state or at major industry events. This would alleviate the reciprocity issue for all techs who obtains this master nail technician license. Of course it would help to have the same laws fro state to state.

Her are some standards I would propose to be part of a national program:


  • All states be licensed
  • All states require at least 10 hours of continuing education classes per year
  • All states require the same sanitation practices
  • Sanitation classes required in every renewal period
  • Written and practical exams required every other renewal period.
  • CEU hours transfer from state to state without extra fees.
  • CEUs awarded for competing
  • One hands-on class required per renewal period


Everyone can benefit from this kind of program - state boards, manufacturers, school, educator, nail techs, students, and clients. Like I said, every state is trying to achieve the same goal, so why not to do it together?

Darlene Feric is owner of Escape Nail Spa in Antioch, Ill.

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