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Top-Notch Training in the Valley of the Sun [The Academy of Nail Technology School Profile]

Academy of Nail Technology owner Linda McKew says the school has a great reputation in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area as the only place that specializes in nail training. The school being a salon itself, students regularly benefit from a hands-on education working with client services.

<p>Students at of the Academy of Nail Technology preparing for the day&rsquo;s clients.</p>
Academy of Nail Technology owner Linda McKew says the school has a great reputation in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area as the only place that specializes in nail training. The school being a salon itself, students regularly benefit from a hands-on education working with client services and getting to experience in-the-moment lessons with instructors.


Located in Phoenix, Ariz., Academy of Nail Technology trains students to meet state board requirements for nail techs. This includes lessons in safety and sanitation, manicuring, massage, polishing, wraps, tip application, and sculptured acrylics.

Unlike other schools in the area, Academy of Nail Technology focuses 100% on nail education. Doubling as a salon itself, students are learning by being out in the salon environment and interacting with instructors and clients as services are happening. Owner Linda McKew says every lesson builds on the next one, and students get to learn from situations right from the salon.

<p>A student performs a gel manicure for one of the salon&rsquo;s clients.</p>
Students come from several different backgrounds. From ages 16 to 62, the student body is made up of a diverse group of people there to learn about nail technology.

“We have the empty nest mom, career professionals caught in corporate downsizing, and college-bound high school graduates,” McKew says.

The increase of salon openings in the area has also increased the number of students who attend the school. Students complete the course in 600hours, and the 3,200-sq.-ft. campus produces 50 to70 graduates a year.

McKew says most students pay for their education themselves, but recently some government agencies have assisted students who qualify. She does state, however, that it is very difficult for students in the field to receive government assistance.

McKew says that ironically the nail industry isn’t recognized as a high demand and viable career by government agencies, although her own research indicates those in the field have the potential of earning above average income. For students, that makes the process of meeting standards to receive government assistance difficult.

<p>Customers relax in the Academy of Nail Technology&rsquo;s salon area as students perform pedicures on them.</p>


Academy of Nail Technology doesn’t just stop at assisting students in the classroom, but provides resources for student to find jobs after they graduate. The salon/school has a board located in the classroom that provides job postings to students. The school also updates its students on job openings through its Facebook page. In addition, students hear from other salon owners and managers as guest speakers.

McKew says several of her former students keep in touch through social media. Graduates also still visit, since the school is located next door to Manicure Mart where many buy their supplies.

McKew adds that several of the schools graduates are now salon owners, working in resorts, high-end salons, and as independent contractors.

“Academy provides continued education to graduates to keep their enthusiasm for this extraordinary industry and recently has started partnering with several salons filling positions for licensed nail techns,” McKew says.

<p>The Academy of Nail Technology&rsquo;s pedicure area, where clients can relax comfortably as they receive their pedicures.</p>


Owner Linda McKew was originally a substitute instructor at Academy of Nail Technology, but purchased the school in 1999 when the previous owner decided to retire. The school itself was established in the ‘80s. McKew now has over 26 years of successful experience in the nail industry, but says when she first started she struggled with building a clientele and trying to learn how to actually do nails.

“Now as the owner of Academy of Nail Technology, my goal is to provide the materials and skills to the beginner at an entry-level position in the salon,” McKew says.

Academy of Nail Technology has experienced instructors who are passionate about the nail industry and sharing their knowledge with their students. McKew says her instructors have experience from many areas of the nail industry. Their backgrounds range from commission, independent contractor, and salon owner to competitions and educators for product lines.

McKew herself has a rich background in the field. She has been published in Cosmetology Educators of America’s Newsbreak magazine. She is a former educator for EZ Flow, the Association of Electric File Manufacturers, and Entity Beauty Products. She also holds a patent on a teaching tool designed to help with consistency and technique in sculpting.

Fast Facts

School name:
Academy of Nail Technology
Phoenix, Arizona

Owner: Linda McKew

Square Footage: 3200

Opened: December  1999

Number of Employees: 3

Number of hours to complete the nail course: 600



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Editor’s Note:  This profile is part of a series spotlighting successful nail programs. To nominate a nail program for an article, please e-mail sree.roy[at]

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