Manicurists and pedicurists clean, shape, and beautify fingernails and toenails.
Manicurists and pedicurists typically do the following:
- Discuss nail treatments and services available
- Remove nail polish
- Clean, trim, and file nails
- Reduce calluses and rough skin
- Massage and moisturize hands (for a manicure) and feet (for a pedicure)
- Polish or buff nails
- Advise clients about nail and skin care for hands and feet
- Promote and sell nail and skin care products
- Clean and disinfect their work area and tools
Manicurists and pedicurists work exclusively on the hands and feet, providing treatments to groom fingernails and toenails. A typical treatment involves soaking the clients’ hands or feet to soften the skin in order to remove dead skin cells. Manicurists and pedicurists apply lotion to the hands and feet to moisturize the skin. They also may shape and apply polish to artificial fingernails.
Manicurists and pedicurists use a variety of tools, including nail clippers, nail files, and specialized cuticle tools. They must be focused while they perform their duties, because most of the tools they use are sharp. Keeping their tools clean and sanitary is important.
Some manicurists and pedicurists operate their own nail salon, which requires performing business tasks such as keeping inventory records and ordering supplies. They also hire and supervise workers and sell nail care products, such as nail polish and hand or foot cream. A small but growing number of workers make house calls. Mobile manicure and pedicure services are popular because clients consider them convenient.
Manicurists and pedicurists held about 156,300 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of manicurists and pedicurists were as follows:
|Personal care services||69%|
Manicurists and pedicurists usually work in a nail salon, spa, or hair salon. The job involves a lot of sitting. Manicurists and pedicurists who provide mobile services may travel to their clients’ locations.
Manicurists and pedicurists use chemicals when working on fingernails and toenails, so they often wear protective clothing, including protective gloves and masks.
Although most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, many have variable schedules and work part time. Schedules may vary according to the type of establishment. For example, a full-service salon may require manicurists and pedicurists to work an 8-hour day. However, a boutique hair salon may require fewer work hours on a part-time basis. Longer work days are not unusual for self-employed workers. Weekends and evenings tend to be the busiest times for manicurists and pedicurists.
Manicurists and pedicurists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program and then pass a state exam for licensure, which all states except Connecticut require.
Manicurists and pedicurists must complete a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program. Currently, there are hundreds of programs nationwide.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
State licensing requirements vary. However, applicants need to be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or the equivalent. After completing a state-approved cosmetology or nail technician program, manicurists and pedicurists must take a written exam and a practical exam to get a license through their state board. Mobile manicure and pedicure services require a separate license.
The National–Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology provides information on state examinations for licensing, with sample questions. The Professional Beauty Association and the American Association of Cosmetology Schools also provide information on state examinations, as well as offering other professional links.
Business skills. Manicurists and pedicurist who run their own nail salon must understand general business principles. For example, they should be skilled at administrative tasks, such as accounting and personnel management, and be able to manage a salon efficiently and profitably.
Creativity. The ability to neatly finish small, intricate designs is important, as is the ability to suggest nail designs and match them to individual tastes.
Customer-service skills. Good listening and interpersonal skills are important in working with clients. Also, meeting the needs of clients, including interacting with them while doing a manicure or pedicure, encourages repeat business.
Dexterity. A steady hand is essential in achieving a creative and precise nail design. In addition, because manicurists and pedicurists often use sharp tools, they must have good finger dexterity.
The median hourly wage for manicurists and pedicurists was $11.70 in May 2018.
The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.47, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $16.10.
In May 2018, the median hourly wages for manicurists and pedicurists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Personal care services||$11.71|
Although most manicurists and pedicurists work full time, some have variable schedules and work part time. Schedules may vary according to the type of establishment. For example, a full-service salon may require manicurists and pedicurists to work an 8-hour day. However, a boutique hair salon may require fewer work hours on a part-time basis. Longer work days are not unusual for self-employed workers. Weekends and evenings tend to be the busiest times for manicurists and pedicurists.
Manicurists and Pedicurists
Median hourly wages, May 2018
- Total, all occupations
- Personal appearance workers
- Manicurists and pedicurists
Employment of manicurists and pedicurists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.
The projected increase in employment reflects demand for new types of nail services, such as mini-sessions (quick manicures at a low cost) and mobile manicures and pedicures (nail services offered outside of the salon).
The desire among many women and a growing number of men to lead a healthier lifestyle through better grooming and wellness also should result in higher employment for manicurists and pedicurists.
Considered a low-cost luxury service, manicures and pedicures will continue to be in demand by individuals at all income levels.
Job opportunities should be very good overall. The growing number of nail salons and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year will result in many job openings.
|Occupational Title||SOC Code||Employment, 2018||Projected Employment, 2028||Change, 2018-28||Employment by Industry|
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program
Manicurists and pedicurists
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of manicurists and pedicurists.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2018|
Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists
Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and a range of other beauty services.
|Postsecondary nondegree award||$24,830|
Skincare specialists cleanse and beautify the face and body to enhance a person’s appearance.
|Postsecondary nondegree award||$31,290|
For information about training and cosmetology schools, visit
For information about state licensing, practice exams, and other professional links, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Manicurists and Pedicurists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/manicurists-and-pedicurists.htm (visited ).