Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Arkansas

Arkansas may be a largely rural state, but that certainly doesn’t seem to hamper the salon industry. Nearly 2,000 licensed nail technicians work out of 376 nail salons in Arkansas as of 2013. In fact, growth in Alabama’s salon industry outperformed Arkansas’ overall private sector in terms of job creation for the last 10 years, increasing 9 percent while private-sector employment remained flat.

Enter Zip:

Before your career as a nail technician can take off, however, you must first become licensed as a manicurist through the Arkansas Department of Health, Cosmetology Section, which requires completing the following steps:

Complete an Approved Nail Technician Program
Submit an Application for Practitioner Examination
Take and Pass the Required Examinations for Licensure
Learn More about Becoming a Manicurist in Arkansas

The exciting population centers of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Jonesboro, Conway, and Ft. Smith are just a few of the many reasons why people move here and stay here. From Little Rock’s River Market District (one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Arkansas) to trendy Downtown Jonesboro, which is home to some of the tri-state’s most well-known businesses, there are plenty of fantastic places where nail salons—and your nail technician career—can thrive.



Step 1. Complete an Approved Nail Technician Program

To be eligible for licensure as a manicurist in Arkansas, you must complete a nail technology program through a cosmetology school that is approved by the Department of Health and includes at least 600 hours of study. You can find a list of approved schools here.

A licensed manicurist in Arkansas is allowed to “engage in the manicuring of nails,” which includes performing the following duties:

  • Cutting, polishing, filing, buffing, trimming, protecting, wrapping, covering, etc.
  • Softening of the arms, hands, feet or ankles using chemical or cosmetic preparations, lotions, creams, antiseptics, or electrical appliances

You can expect an approved nail technology program to include study and practical experience in the above areas. In addition, a comprehensive nail program also includes study in areas such as bacteriology, sanitation, and safety.



Step 2. Submit an Application for Practitioner Examination

Upon successfully completing an approved nail technician program, you must submit:

To qualify for a manicurist license in Arkansas, you must be at least 16 years old, and you must have completed the 10th grade (or its equivalent).

If your application is approved, you will receive additional information from the Cosmetology Section regarding your upcoming practical and written examinations. If you are not approved, the Cosmetology Section will notify you of any discrepancies or missing documentation and hold your eligibility status as pending until you submit the required documentation or make the required corrections.



Step 3. Take and Pass the Required Examinations for Licensure

You are required to take and pass both a practical and written examination to achieve licensure as a manicurist in Arkansas. Arkansas utilizes the National Nail Technology (Manicuring) Examination, which was developed by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC).

You can learn more about these examinations by reading the Candidate Information Bulletin.

Once you have received approval from the Cosmetology Section to take the practical examination, you will receive your practical examination date and time. You will then receive a formal Admission Notice for the practical examination about 7-10 days before your test date.

On your examination day, you will present your Admission Notice, along with a government-issued I.D. that bears your photo and signature at the practical examination site. You must possess both of these things to be admitted into the examination room. All practical examinations are held at the same examination site, which is 101 East Capitol, Suite 106 in Little Rock.

Once you have passed the practical examination for a manicurist license in Arkansas, you may schedule your written (theory) examination, which is administered through PSI Services. You are responsible for scheduling your examination by contacting PSI Services at 1-800-733-9267 or by registering online at You can choose to take the written examination at any of the PSI testing centers in Arkansas, including:

  • Bentonville
  • Fayetteville
  • Harrison
  • Jonesboro
  • North Little Rock

Once you have passed both the written and practical examinations, the Cosmetology Section will automatically send you your manicurist licensure. You do not have to notify them that you have passed your examinations. Allow up to two weeks to receive your manicurist license.

Your manicurist license in Arkansas must be renewed on a biennial basis. You can renew your license online through CLIPS, the online licensing and permit system. The cost of renewal is $50.



Step 4. Learn More about Becoming a Manicurist in Arkansas

The first you’ll likely do after receiving your manicurist license is to consider your employment options with some of the top nail salons and spas in Arkansas, which include:

  • Ava Bella Day Spa, Little Rock
  • Envy Nail & Spa, Little Rock
  • Ethereal Spa, Little Rock
  • Fountain Gate Spa, Ft. Smith
  • Pretty Nails, Ft. Smith
  • Susan Higgins Design, Little Rock
  • Tiffany’s Nails, Ft. Smith

As a licensed nail technician, you will have a number of professional options, including working as an employee in a nail salon, full salon, or spa, working as an independent contractor in a salon or spa setting, or performing mobile salon services. You may even have aspirations of opening up your own nail salon.

Depending on your career goals, you may seek additional training in areas such as salon and spa management, business management, and marketing, just to name a few. For example, nail technicians may seek post-secondary degrees in everything from cosmetology to health and beauty management, or they may take classes to keep their skills sharp and ensure they have a pulse on the latest trends in the nail salon services industry.

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