Money Matters

NAILS' 1996 Nail Technician Compensation Survey

Nail technicians' earning power is up 17%. Perhaps the staff shortages the industry is facing is having an impact on the salaries and prices that skilled nail techs can demand. Our biannual compensation studies will help you understand how your earnings compare to the industry and provide some simple ways to increase your earning potential.

Is your pay average or above average? The way to look at these income figures (which are averages of nail techs and owners in the entire country) is to understand that many factors affect a person's ability to earn money doing nails. Use these statistics to see how your income compares with your colleagues, and to zero in on what you can do to increase your earnings, whether it's continuing your education, moving to a higher-end salon, increasing your service prices, retailing, or simply being a little more patient. We've show that there is a correlation to all of those things. Simply understanding your income potential is the first step toward achieving it.

Compensation Study for ALL Survey Respondents

Average monthly salon retail income: $847.43

Average hours worked per week: 31-40

Average amount spent on supplies per month: $139.13

Average weekly tip income: $65.01

Average client ticket: $20.75

Average weekly income: $447.00

Earnings by Title and Licensing Status

It’s lonely at the top, but there’s certainly more earning power there as well. Longevity in the industry almost always means a bigger paycheck, better tips, and higher client tickets. Of course, it also means longer hours.

It cannot be stressed enough: knowledge = power = money. Get to a couple tradeshows and classes every year and watch your income grow. You can command higher service prices and a higher salary if you have refined your skills. Considering that the costs for continuing education are tax deductible, what’s stopping you?

Average number of classes per year 3.5 2.5 2.9 2.6 2.2
Average number of shows per year 1.0 1.7
2.1 1.8 1.4
Average spent monthly on products/supplies $67.26 $77.76 $189.14 $105.13 $81.93
Average number of clients per week 14 23 33 26 24
Average weekly tip income $43.38 $59.68 $83.56 $66.20 $54.18
Average client ticket amount
$13.37 $22.55 $24.45 $23.02 $17.88
Average weekly income
$172.28 $360.59 $623.63 $437.91 $416.97


Average client ticket (all titles) $18.02 $21.26 $23.37 $23.29 $16.27 $22.28 $24.75
Average weekly income (all titles) $390.98 $446.61 $599.77 $716.42 $398.95 $483.80 $548.63


It Pays to Retail!

Average weekly salary for nail technicians who retail: $516.67

Average weekly salary for nail technicians who do not retail: $382.78


A Career Fit for All Ages

There's no need to career-hop if you're doing nails. Give this career a chance and it will repay you. Nail technicians' income is most directly tied with how long they've been at it. First-year nail techs earn a living wage, but stick around for four or five years and you will get your due. Our study shows that a nail technician doing nails for five years has nearly double the income of a first-year practitioner.

Although you may move up the income scale as you move up in age, this industry not age discriminate. Although very young nail technicians (under 20 years old) earn substantially less than the over-20 crowd, it is only because they have been in the business a short time.

  1 year or less 2-4 years 5-7 years 8-10 years 11+ years
Average weekly tip income $43.12 $60.58 $82.58 $79.87 $79.66
Average client ticket $16.97 $20.97 $21.77 $22.51 $21.90
Average weekly income $282.17 $391.42 $536.69 $594.67 $612.28


under 20 years old
20-29 years old 30-39 years old
40-49 years old
50 years or older
Average weekly tip income
Average client ticket
Average weekly income


The Case Against Booth Rental

Most nail technicians have strong opinions on whether to choose an employee salon or a booth rental situation. Although booth rental is very popular, especially in certain states, it has its disadvantages: You may end up spending more on supplies when you have to purchase them alone; your retail potential is often inhibited if you don't have salon support or access to manufacturers' special retail displays. There is also the expense of the booth rent itself. When you take into account the expenses a booth renter has that an employee doesn't, the picture is not quite so bright as it may look at first. The critical thing to ask yourself when you are making a decision about joining a salon or starting one of your own is, What salon operation type will help me grow my business and develop my career?

Number of classes yearly 3.5 2.8
Number of shows yearly 2.6 1.9
Average spent monthly on supplies/products $136.32 $169.47
Percentage who retail 50% 34%
Average monthly salon retail sales $901.25 $535.74
Average hours worked per week 31-40 21-30
Average client ticket $19.07 $19.55
Average weekly tip income $61.67 $56.50
Average weekly income $369.25 $448.44


State by State Earnings Compensation

Don't start packing yet! We took the states that had the most nail technicians and looked at average income for both nail techs and salon owners. The range in income for nail technicians isn't quite as broad as it is for owners, but there are so many factors involved in what creates these differences. That is why we also look at average client tickets. In California, for example, the income potential is high, but so is the average number of hours that most nail techs work (not to mention that California nail techs have one of the highest educational requirements in the country).

Arizona $376.95 $20.24 $636.00 $23.80
California $446.61 $20.55 $604.18 $21.18
Colorado $463.33 $24.58 $427.73 $17.50
Connecticut $356.00 $22.60 $331.67 $23.33
Florida $357.47 $19.37 $540.77 $21.81
Georgia $364.58 $20.75 $560.36 $22.14
Illinois $320.83 $20.02 $560.36 $24.71
Indiana $356.91 $19.88  $630.00
Maryland $350.00
Massachusetts         $375.14 $19.83  $775.11 $22.45
Michigan  $332.66 $23.84  $531.67 $19.90
Minnesota  $375.77 $27.85  $493.50 $23.38
Missouri  $401.75 $20.85  $465.00 $20.50
Nevada  $377.46 $20.92 $546.64 $24.17
New Jersey  $367.17 $22.05  $490.94 $21.19
New York  $369.77 $22.60  $843.19 $26.79
North Carolina  $359.00 $23.12  $728.54 $24.82
Ohio $369.00 $23.08  $512.70 $23.48
Oklahoma  $312.46 $20.42  $422.50 $20.92
Oregon  $326.19 $20.24  $642.33 $26.67
Pennsylvania  $287.57 $16.79  $672.00 $22.19
Tennessee  $357.64 $20.00  $677.80 $21.00
Texas  $404.98 $19.63  $525.62 $20.63
Washington  $344.83 $21.50  $449.38 $24.81
Wisconsin  $336.80 $21.25  $764.14 $28.50





Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment


Comments (0)

Featured Products & Promotions   |   Advertisement

Market Research

Market Research How big is the U.S. nail business? $7.3 billion. What's the average service price for a manicure? Dig into our decades' deep research archives.

Industry Statistics for

View All


FREE Subscription

VietSalon is a Vietnamese-language magazine and the sister publication to NAILS. Click the link below to sign up for a FREE one-year subscription.

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today