Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Colorado

Acrylic, gel, silk—you love them all, and you’d love to dive into a rewarding career as a nail technician! So what better place to realize your career aspirations in manicuring than in Colorado?

Enter Zip:

Whether you want to settle in beautiful Boulder and give a great manicure in the popular Pearl Street Mall, relax into a great nail business at one of the countless Castle Rock shops, or make a name for yourself as a quality manicurist in the popular Creative District of downtown Colorado Springs, your love of beauty is at home in picturesque Colorado.

To get your nail technician career up and running, you must first become licensed through the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations, Office of Barber and Cosmetology Licensure, which requires successfully completing the following steps:

Complete an Approved Nail Technician Program
Apply to Take the Practical and Written Manicurist Examinations
Find a Job and Maintain your Manicurist License in Colorado



Step 1. Complete an Approved Nail Technician Program

To earn licensure as a manicurist in Colorado, you must complete a nail technician program that has been approved by the Colorado Office of Barber and Cosmetology. Although the Office does not maintain a list of approved cosmetology/nail technician programs, you can view approved programs through the Division of Private Occupational Schools.

You must complete a program of at least 20 credit hours to become a licensed manicurist, so it is important to ensure that the program you choose meets this requirement. Approved nail technician programs consist of the following subjects:

  • Manicuring and pedicuring
  • Application of artificial nails
  • Laws, rules, and regulation
  • Management, ethics, interpersonal skills, and salesmanship
  • Disinfection, sanitation, and safe work practices

The Office permits licensed manicurists to perform the following duties:

  • Polishing, buffing, protecting, covering, wrapping, trimming, filing, and extending nails
  • Softening of the arms, hands, feet, or ankles by hands or by using mechanical or electrical appliances
  • Massaging, cleansing, manipulating, or stimulating the arms, feet, ankles, and hands by using antiseptics, creams, or lotions
  • Waxing or using depilatories on the leg up the knee and on the arm up to the elbow



Step 2. Apply to Take the Practical and Written Manicurist Examinations

After successfully completing an approved nail technician program, you must take and pass the Colorado manicurist practical examination and the Colorado manicurist written examination, both of which are administered through PSI Services. You must first complete the Licensure by Examination Application either online through the Colorado Cosmetology Licensure Portal or by printing and completing a paper application. The application fee is $28.

Within two days of receiving your application, you will be notified by the Office, via email, that your application has been approved. You will also receive a confirmation notice from PSI, which will contain instructions on how to apply and pay for the manicurist practical examination. (Note: you must pass the practical examination before you can schedule to take the written examination.)

The cost to take the practical examination is $71, and you can expect the practical examination to take about 90 minutes to complete. When scheduling the practical examination, you will have the option to take it at the following locations:

  • Denver (Wheat Ridge)
  • Colorado Springs
  • Grand Junction
  • Durango

Once you have passed the practical examination, you will be given instructions on how to apply and pay for the written examination. The cost of takin the written examination is $56, and you can expect the examination to last 100 minutes. You will have the option of taking the written examination at the following locations:

  • Denver (Centennial)
  • Denver (Wheat Ridge)
  • Fort Collins
  • Pueblo
  • Colorado Springs
  • Grand Junction
  • Durango
  • Albuquerque
  • Sunset (Ogden)
  • Hurricane (St. George)
  • North Orem (Provo)
  • North Salt Lake City
  • Farmington
  • Las Cruces
  • Roswell
  • Santa Fe

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

After passing both the practical and written examinations, you will automatically receive a notification that contains both a photo-bearing pocket card and a wall license.



Step 3. Find a Job and Maintain your Manicurist License in Colorado

All manicurist licenses in Colorado expire on March 31 of even-numbered years. You must renew you manicurist licenses to continue practicing. Although there are no continuing education requirements for renewal, you may seek nail technology classes from time to time as way to ensure you are offering your clients the highest quality manicuring services and that you are privy to the latest trends in nail care.

If you are considering opening up your own nail salon in Colorado or are looking to manage a nail salon, full salon, or spa, you will likely want to educate yourself by taking coursework such as business management, business administration, and marketing.

There are likely a multitude of nail salons throughout Colorado that are the perfect fit for you, whether you want to work as a salon employee or as an independent contractor, renting space at some of the popular Colorado nail salons, full-service salons, or spas. There may also be plenty of opportunities for qualified manicurists in Colorado’s many luxury ski resorts.

Just a few of the popular salons in Colorado include:

  • The Spa and Salon at the Brown Palace, Denver
  • Tootsies, the Nail Shoppe, Denver
  • Coco Nail Salon, Denver
  • TallGrass Aveda Spa & Salon, Evergreen
  • Head-to-Toe Delight, St, Julien Hotel & Spa, Boulder
  • Signature Nails & Spa, Denver
  • The Pink Doors Boutiques and Nail Salon, Brighton

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