Southern girls are serious about their nails—and Alabama’s no exception. If there’s any doubt in your mind about the health and vitality of the professional nail services in Alabama, consider this: According to an industry report by NAILS Magazine, there were 769 nail salons and 3,236 nail technicians in Alabama in 2013.
If you want to dive deep into the exciting field of professional nail services in Alabama and become an expert in the study and practice of pedicures, nail tips, nail wraps, and nail sculpting, you must earn licensure through the Alabama Board of Cosmetology and Barbering.
Nail technicians (licensed as manicurists) in Alabama must complete the following steps to achieve licensure:
Step 1. Complete a Nail Technician/Manicurist Program
Before you can apply for licensure as a nail technician in Alabama or take the required examinations, you must complete one of the following:
- A nail technician educational program that is at least 750 hours in length; OR
- A nail technician apprenticeship that is at least 1,200 hours in length
Nail Technician Educational Program
A nail technician program, which can be completed in about 6 months at a full-time pace, is generally completed through a dedicated nail school or a beauty/cosmetology school. There are a number of nail technician institutions in Alabama, and many more comprehensive cosmetology schools that offer manicuring programs.
A nail technician program should balance the required technical skills for licensure with a strong grounding in areas of personal growth and technique development.
Coursework components of a nail technician program often include:
- Bacteria, infections
- Salon safety
- Nails and nail disorders
- Skin and skin disorders
- Nail tips/nail wraps
- Acrylic nails
- Nail art
- Salon management
Nail Technician Apprenticeship
You may also seek licensure as a nail technician by completing an apprenticeship instead of a formal educational program. Unlike a nail technician program, which is 750 hours in length, your apprenticeship must be at least 1,200 hours in length. You must receive approval from the Board before you can begin an apprenticeship through the completion of an Apprenticeship Application. You must enclose a $75 application fee and a 2×2” passport photo with your application.
To qualify for an apprenticeship, you must show proof that you have completed at least the 10th grade and that you have secured an apprenticeship with a licensed manicurist in a licensed salon establishment.
Step 2. Apply for Licensure with the Alabama State Board of Cosmetology
Upon successfully completing either an approved apprenticeship or formal nail technician program of at least 750 hours, you must then apply for your manicurist license with the Alabama State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering by completing a Manicurist License application and paying the application fee of $40. You must be at least 16 years old and have completed the 10th grade to qualify for a manicurist license in Alabama.
The Board will notify you when your application has been approved, at which point you can apply to sit for manicurist license examinations through Professional Credentialing Services (PCS).
Step 3. Take and Pass the Written Examination for Manicurist Licensure in Alabama
The Alabama Board of Cosmetology has contracted Professional Credentialing Services (PCS) to handle the administration of the licensing examinations, which include both a practical and a written examination.
The Board recognizes the National Cosmetology Examination through the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) as their written examination.
The cost to take the written examination with PCS is $75. You must first take and pass the written (theory) examination, which is administered through PSI testing centers. You must contact PSI at 1-800-733-9267 to schedule your written examination.
In Alabama, you can take the examination at one of the following locations:
Step 4. Take and Pass the Practical Examination for Manicurist Licensure
Once you have passed the written exam and the Board has forwarded an approval notice to PCS, you may register to take the practical examination, which may be taken at one of the following locations:
- North Alabama
You can register with PCS at 1-888-822-3272 and view upcoming test dates here. You can also register online here.
The cost to take the practical examination is $120, which you will pay directly to the Board.
About 10 days before the examination, you can expect to receive a Practical Admission Notice, via email, from PCS. You will need to bring this notice to the examination with you. Upon taking the practical examination, the Board will forward you a Score Notice and, provided you pass, will issue you a Manicurist license.
You can read more about taking the Alabama Practical Examination for a Manicurist License here.
The practical examination includes an assessment on the following core domain services:
- Nail tip
- Nail wrap
- Sculptured nail
- Set-up and client protection
Step 5. Start your Manicurist Career and Maintain your License
All manicurist licenses in Alabama are renewed on a biennial basis, and the cost of renewal is $80. There are currently no continuing education requirements to maintain your manicurist license in Alabama.
The first step to starting your career as a nail technician in Alabama is learning more about your employment opportunities. You may be hired by a nail salon, spa, or full-service salon and work as an employee. You may also choose to perform your services as an independent contractor and work in a salon or spa, renting out space each month. Or, you can explore becoming a business owner in Alabama by opening up your own nail salon. The options for a nail technician in Alabama are limitless!
If you want to pursue salon ownership, it may benefit you to take a number of courses—or even earn a degree—in business management, marketing, and the like.
Just a few of the popular nail salons in Alabama include:
- Canterbury Nails: Mountain Brook
- In the Nails: Huntsville
- T&A Nails: Mobile
- Vivian’s Nails: Mobile
- Cosmo Nails: Millbrook
- Summit Nails: Huntsville