Going to nail school was absolutely transformative for me. Not only was it fun (because it was SO fun!), but I learned a lot and made some wonderful connections. Whether or not you want to be a full time nail tech, nail school can be an amazing experience. Especially as a nail blogger, it only made sense that I should know on a professional level what I was talking about. A lot of people ask me how to choose a nail school – and moreover, how to decide to attend at all! I’m going to talk you through my process. You have to know the right questions to ask, what you should expect from nail school, and how much it’s going to cost you. This can be applied to other kinds of programs, too – for example, my friend is thinking about yoga teacher training. I think a full break down of questions like this could help you make that decision, too.
How to decide to go to nail school:
Let’s start with the most overwhelming question. How should you decide to go to nail school in the first place? I was riddled with all sorts of worries – will I be the only person there older than 18? Will I be stigmatized for entering the beauty industry, when I have degrees, etc?
I ultimately decided that I wanted to go because it sounded fun! I just moved to a new city and didn’t have a job, which made the decision to attend much easier. If you do have a job, it is still possible to attend – you may just have to get creative with your schedule.
Deciding is tough – it’s a big life change, and that can be scary. Make a pros and cons list and think about how this will impact your life. Also important to remember: you’re not stuck or boxed in, and you can always try something new. The decision is in your hands – but I highly recommend this adventure.
What questions to ask:
Once you’ve decided that you want to go to nail school, you next have to figure out where you’ll go! Some people may be geographically limited, and that makes the decision much easier. Some people will have many options and need to pick from among several programs. Make a plan to visit each school you find so that you can ask the program administrator the questions you need to know in order to make your decision!
- Does the school offer nails only programs? Many schools will not offer a nails only program, but will include nails in the cosmetology program. For me, this was an easy answer. I knew I wanted a nails only program. However, you may be interested in cosmetology more generally, so this could be a fun option for you!
- What are the state required program hours, and how does state licensing work? You may be able to google this, and the information varies state by state. However, you’ll want to ask as you visit schools to make sure that they’re above board with local licensing agencies. Make sure they know the requirements!
- Is the program full or part time? So you can figure your schedule out! I went part time, but there were opportunities to get more hours completed on my own.
- How much does it cost, and are there any financial aid opportunities? I’ll get into how much you should plan to spend in the last section. If you’ll need helping paying for school, find out if they are nationally accredited and can offer financial aid.
- Is there a salon in the school, and if so, does it get much business? Or will you be allowed to do internships? This is pretty important. In addition to practicing on fellow students (which you will do), it’s really important to become comfortable providing services to strangers. Some schools have their own salons and walk-in traffic will allow you to get in some really good practice. My school had a salon, and also allowed us to do internships. This will vary by state law, so be sure to find out if you can apprentice somewhere.
- Will they give you any credit for the expertise you already possess? Find out if any college courses will count as credit (like biology or other life-sciences). If you’re a blogger, ask if they will give you credit for all the blogging work you do!
- How much does the kit cost, and what’s in it? Is it stuff you actually need, or a lot of extra? Is it good quality?
- Is the program age diverse? This turned out to be pretty important to me. My school had lots of different kinds of people attending, and I was not the only person with a masters degree! I got to spend time with people younger and older than me, and I think this really helped the environment feel welcoming and friendly. No cattiness allowed!
- How long have the instructors worked as professionals? Are any of them still working? You definitely want instructors who know what they’re talking about and are familiar with the field. If the instructors also still currently work in salons, you can trust that they’re more up to date with current trends and techniques.
And here’s a question to ask yourself:
Does the school seem nice? Is it clean? What does your gut tell you about this place? This actually matters, since you’ll have to spend a lot of time there!!
What it will cost:
This varies by state, since some programs require more hours. I can’t give you an exact figure for that reason – my 600 hour program most definitely was more expensive than a program that only requires 300 hours! Here are the things that will add up:
- Tuition: This will probably be a few thousand dollars, though like I said above, it will vary by state, school, and hours required. You could be looking at anywhere from $2,000 – $10,000. Be sure to shop for prices, though, since it can vary so much by school.
- Kit: Your kit should be considered a nail tech start up, and include all the things you will need to work in a salon or your own mobile business. Expect to pay $1,000 + for your kit
- Books: My school required 2 books, but you may only need one. Expect to pay about $200 for your books
There can also be opportunities to earn some money while you’re in school, too!
- Tips: Does the school salon allow you to keep tips? I made a decent amount in tips alone!
- Pay: If you do an apprenticeship, you can get paid! In Colorado, apprentices have to earn less that what licensed professionals earn on the floor. Still, though, I made some nice commission while I was an apprentice.
Those are my nail school tips! Are you thinking about attending nail school? Are there any other questions you would add to this list?