How Do I Become a Hair and Nail Technician?

Hair and nail technician providing services for a client.

Hair and nail technicians are in high demand. But it takes more than desire to turn an obsession with style into a career, it takes quality education. The good news for beauty enthusiasts is that the road to becoming a hair and nail technician is clear. The key to success is completing a vocational school cosmetology program.

Why Become a Hair and Nail Technician?

The best careers are those that make people feel great about going to work in the morning. How can someone know if being a hair and nail technician is a good fit? A happy cosmetologist enjoys conversation, thrives on creativity, embraces the latest beauty trends, and wants to beautify the world around them.

Enjoys Conversation

Cosmetologists are called “thera-stylists” in the industry. They serve as sounding boards for whoever sits in their chairs. Surveys shows that of the millions of people who frequent salons, most of them would trust their hairdresser’s advice over their therapist’s for “serious” personal problems. It’s all about trust, the foundation of which is communication.

Thrives on Creativity

Styling hair and manicuring nails is a form of art. Expression through personal style is empowering for clients who want to look and feel their best. The best hairdressers sculpt hair with the same passion Michelangelo had for carving marble. Students who thrive on creativity can start a new masterpiece every day.

Embraces the Latest Beauty Trends

Style evolves. Classic designs rarely change, but trends morph every season, there’s always a new look to try. Tomorrow’s top cosmetologists are today’s YouTube beauty video enthusiasts. All new trends start somewhere, some in the most unexpected places.

Wants to Beautify the World Around Them

The activities people enjoy in their off time is a powerful predictor of job satisfaction. Passionate hair and nail technicians often begin their career by doing special occasion styles for friends and family, an updo for a wedding or braids for the kids. No good cosmetologist lets their world be gray when it can be filled with color.

How Does Someone Become a Hair and Nail Technician?

Hair and nail technicians must have a license to practice. Every state has different requirements, but all require at least some form of formal education. Being a whiz with the shears isn’t enough. The quickest path to a rewarding career as a hair and nail technician is to complete a vocational school cosmetology program.

What Does Someone Learn in a Cosmetology Program?

Cosmetology programs differ, but they offer the same core curriculum. Students learn hair care, and nail care, including basic spa manicures and pedicures.

Hair Care

Cosmetology programs emphasize hair care because it’s the most popular service in salons. Students learn the anatomy and physiology of the hair, skin and scalp, so they know how it grows and behaves. The practical focus is on doing styles, cuts and colors.

Nail Care

The cosmetology curriculum also covers nail care. Manicures and pedicures are now second only to haircuts as the most requested personal service, and clients expect graduates will be well-versed in the latest techniques, including:

  • Basic and spa manicures and pedicures
  • Nail Tips
  • Sculpted nails
  • UV gels
  • Nail art

Some cosmetology schools also offer extra training in special occasion make-up and enhancements such as hair and eyelash extensions.

Why Attend a Vocational School Program?

There are many reasons for students to attend a vocational school program in cosmetology. Vocational school students learn a valuable trade, get a quick start, learn in the real world, benefit from small classes, work with industry educated instructors, are prepared to be licensed and certified, and graduate with business opportunities.

Learn a Valuable Trade

Hair and nails grow regardless of social and economic circumstances. Like nurses and welders, cosmetologists have practical skills people need. Jobs for hair and nail technicians are projected to grow by 8 percent in the coming decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beauty is a billion-dollar business and growing.

Get a Quick Start

A rewarding career doesn’t have to mean spending years in college. Hair and nail technicians can be out of the classroom and earning in just ten months if they attend full time. Few careers with this much potential require so little time training.

Learn in the Real World

There’s no substitute for learning how to serve people than by working with them. Mannequins are fine for practice, but cosmetology is a service industry. There’s so much more to it than cutting hair and painting nails.

Learning in context by working in a student-run salon or via externships with experienced professionals prepare students for their first job. Graduates enter the workforce feeling confident about their skills, and employers are grateful to know their clients will be in good hands.

Benefit from Small Classes

Adult students learn faster and retain more information in small classes. Instructors have fewer distractions to manage and more time to work with students one-on-one. Constructive feedback is immediate, making the most of students’ time and helping them reach their maximum potential.

Work with Industry-educated Instructors

Cosmetology instructors are among the most talented hair and nail technicians in the field. They’re licensed, certified and experienced. During a short ten-month program, students can take advantage of what these seasoned pros know, from styling tips to how to handle demanding clients.

Are Prepared for Licensing and Certification

For client safety, states require cosmetologists to pass a competency exam before they can work. Tests evaluate knowledge in a wide range of categories, from sanitation and infection control to hair and nail care techniques. Schools that “teach to the test” and help students with preparation have better first-time pass rates among their graduates.

Graduate with Business Opportunities

Today’s students can spend years in college and still not learn what they need to start a business. But vocational school cosmetology programs teach business skills that prepare entrepreneurs for success. From salesmanship to shop management, graduates learn how to operate a salon.

What Skills Will Someone Learn in a Cosmetology Program?

Hair and nail technicians need the right blend of practical and people skills to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Vocational school cosmetology programs teach hair care, hair cutting, hair styling, hair coloring, manicure and pedicure, skin care, communication skills, customer service skills, sales experience, business management, and time management skills.

Skill #1: Hair Care

Students learn about hair anatomy and how to wash and condition hair according to their different characteristics. Subjects include:

  • Hair physiology
  • Scalp disorders
  • Product chemistry
  • The pH Scale
  • Bacteriology

Skill #2: Hair Cutting

Many Americans get multiple haircuts annually, so proficiency with popular styles for both men and women is a must. Instructors teach the latest in:

  • Comb handling
  • Scissoring
  • Texturizing
  • Layering
  • Razoring
  • Clipper skills
  • Sanitation

Skill #3: Hair Styling

Styling instruction covers skills from blow-drying to setting rollers. Students learn how to use appliances and brushes to achieve a finished look. Other topics include:

  • Braiding
  • Waving
  • Curling
  • Straightening

Skill #4: Hair Coloring

Almost all women color their hair at one time or another, and it’s catching on with men. It’s the second most popular service in the cosmetology business, but it takes expertise to perform. The cosmetology school curriculum not only covers coloring techniques, but it also teaches proper handling of reactive chemicals and dyes. Students learn the fundamentals of color theory plus how to:

  • Perform patch tests
  • Apply temporary and permanent color
  • Recommend the best shades
  • Lighten dark hair
  • Correct color

Skill #5: Manicures and Pedicures

Americans spend billions of dollars on manicures and pedicures every year. It’s a service that requires little initial investment for salons to offer, as long as they employ a skilled nail technician. Cosmetology programs cover the basics of:

  • Nail disorders
  • Trimming and shaping
  • Polish chemistry
  • Artificial nails and tips
  • Hand and foot massage
  • Equipment disinfection

Skill #6: Skin Care

Most full-service salons offer skincare services, it’s a natural extension of doing hair and nails. Additional courses and certifications may be required in some states to provide some services, but cosmetology schools touch on the basics, including:

  • Facials
  • Moisturizing treatments
  • Toning

These skills can set the stage for hair and nail technicians to expand into personal aesthetics.

Skill #7: Communication Skills

Communication is the foundation of cosmetology. As the expert, it’s up to hair and nail technicians to take the lead when speaking with clients, clarifying expectations before making the first cut. But there’s a science to it, and for students who aren’t natural communicators, it’s a skill that can be learned.

Cosmetology schools teach students specific communication techniques designed to enhance the sharing of information, such as active listening and asking probing questions.

Skill #8: Customer Service Skills

Good customer service encourages client loyalty. How do customers define “good” service? Topping the list are prompt communication, a positive attitude, convenient hours, payment options and competitive prices.

In cosmetology school, students learn how to perform services efficiently and build rapport with clients. Practice makes perfect, and graduates begin their careers on the right foot.

Skill #9: Sales Experience

More than half of salon clients say they ask technicians for advice. From which products to buy to whether to try the latest Hollywood look, an expert’s opinion is valuable.

It’s also an opportunity to make sales and generate revenue. No one is better equipped to sell hair and skin products than a trusted hair and nail technician if they know how.

Cosmetology programs teach sales technique in the classroom while externships with professionals in the community offer practical opportunities to work with clients directly. When clients are happy with their purchases, repeat sales become effortless.

Skill #10: Business Management Skills

Cosmetologists with an entrepreneurial spirit can work for themselves, it’s an excellent business opportunity. But more than a quarter of all new salons fail within the first two years, typically due to poor money management.

While most cosmetology schools don’t include in-depth business courses in their curricula, they cover the basics of salon management and marketing. There’s always more to learn.

Skill #11: Time Management Skills

Taking a full-time cosmetology program is the fastest route to a new career, but it’s challenging. Between attending classes, studying and working at externships, it’s a full load. But as most hair and nail technicians soon learn, the greater the number of clients they serve per day, the higher their earnings will be. A ten-month condensed program plus practical experience prepares graduates for a fast-paced work environment in which efficiency and time management are critical.

Final Thoughts

Cosmetology is the ultimate career for students with a passion for beauty. Whether the goal is to open a nail salon or be a hairstylist to the stars, choosing a cosmetology school with a comprehensive curriculum and a good reputation is the best way to start.

Do you have a passion for hair and nails? Interested in becoming a cosmetologist? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting. We keep our class sizes small to make sure you get the individualized instruction you need and attention you deserve. You will graduate with everything you need to be a versatile artist in an exciting industry, including a cosmetology diploma from a respected college.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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