Getting your nails done can be a fun and exciting treat. Whether you’re preparing for a big event or just keeping up with your regular beauty routine, it can be nice and relaxing to sit down for an hour or two to enjoy a nice mani-pedi. Maybe you have dreams and aspirations to provide these experiences and beauty services for your community. You’ve always wanted to work in a salon as a manicurist or cosmetologist, so it’s time you learn how to get there.

Unlike some professions, becoming a nail tech doesn’t necessarily require a college degree. While it is standard to have a high school diploma or GED, you’ll just need to follow a specific nail tech course to work in this field. You also need a passion for people and a dedication to your craft. The best technicians know a perfect manicure is more about just nail polish. It’s about creating that pampering experience and creating a durable, beautiful look. If you think this field is for you, here are the basic steps you’ll need to take to make that dream come true.

Apply to become a nail technician.

First, you’ll need to apply to become a nail technician. Anyone in the beauty industry typically has to go through some form of a cosmetology program to practice their craft. Depending on your state, the requirements to apply may be a little different. For example, most places have an age requirement before you can begin a program and require a high school diploma or GED. Other programs will include a clause to be sure you can serve the entire community in an open manner. Research your specific state and nail care guidelines to find out what programs will be best for you to apply to.

Complete your program and the required hours.

Once you’re into a program, the next step is to complete it. Many programs only have an hourly requirement, so you can finish relatively quickly compared to other schooling methods. Your hours will include coursework as well as actual time in the field perfecting different skills. You’ll learn how to do a gel nail manicure, specialty pedicures, or even just traditional polish. This is your time to dive in and understand all the fundamentals of working in a nail salon so you can bring the best skills to your future job as a nail technician.

Become certified and get your license.

Upon completing your hours, you’ll still have one more step to complete to start your career. You’ll need your official certification and nail tech license. Even if you’ve completed an apprenticeship or have experience in the field, you’ll still need to sit for an examination. This can be a practical test or a written test that is issued by the state you live in to ensure standards and procedures are being met. Passing the test will mean you are officially licensed and ready to start practicing in your chosen field of cosmetology. Bring on the real clients!

Understand specialty areas as a nail technician.

When you start working in a nail salon, you’ll have a number of options to specialize in. Work with the other artists to see what role you can fill as a professional. Maybe gel manis are your bread and butter or you know how to give the best pedicure in town. Having that special skill or something you are known for will help you bring in your own client base and help you find joy in your work. You’ll also be able to experiment and try new things once you move from cosmetology student to full-time nail technician.