Requirements to Become a Manicurist and Pedicurist in Hawaii

If you would enjoy a job that lets you spend each and every day in the relaxing environment of a spa or salon, immersed in the world of beauty and fashion, you would make a great manicurist. There were 470 licensed manicurists employed in Hawaii as of 2013, and with the growing demand for the services they provide, there’s room for plenty more. According to a 2014 report released by the US Department of Labor, manicurists working on the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai are among the best paid in the entire US!

Enter Zip:

To become a manicurist and pedicurist, you must first obtain a nail technician license through the Hawaii Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, which licenses different personal care service providers within the overall category of Beauty Operators. The Beauty Operator license has four (4) different categories, each with different education and exam requirements, including cosmetologist, hairdresser, esthetician, and nail technician. As a nail technician, you will specialize in manicures and pedicures only.

For guidance on how to become a licensed manicurist in Hawaii, follow these simple steps:

Complete 350 Hours of Formal Training
Apply for your Nail Technician License and Exam
Prepare for and Pass the Nail Technician Licensing Exam
Renew your License Every Two Years



Step 1. Complete 350 Hours of Formal Training

The first step toward earning your nail technician license is to get the required training through a nail technician school. These schools provide fast and flexible programs that will teach you absolutely everything you need to know in order to excel as a manicurist. You will learn both the theory and technical aspects of maintaining strong and healthy nails, along with the latest styles and techniques. Nail technician programs also often address the business side of the beauty world, so that you will never be in the dark on how to market yourself, build your own client base, or potentially even open your own manicurist salon.

The Board requires that you go through a school that offers at least 350 credit hours. As part of the 350 required course hours, your school will likely offer courses such as these:

  • History and Opportunities
  • Life Skills/Professional Image
  • Bacteriology and Infection Control
  • Sanitation and Disinfection
  • Nail Product Chemistry
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nail/Skin Disorders and Structure
  • Manicuring (French and Paraffin wax)
  • Pedicuring
  • Nail Wraps
  • Basic Acrylic Nails
  • Basic Nail Art
  • Massage Techniques
  • UV Gel Polish, Nails, and Design
  • Hair Removal
  • Advanced Nail Art
  • In-Grown Nail Treatment
  • Salon Business- Rules, Regulations, Starting a Business
  • Advanced Customer Salon Service

You also have the option of acquiring a nail technician license through apprenticeship. To do so, you will need to spend at least 700 hours in apprenticeship training under the close supervision of a licensed nail technician before being eligible to take the licensing exam.



Step 2. Apply for your Nail Technician License and Exam

Exam & License

Now that you finished the educational step, you can apply for your exam and license. This application will function as a preliminary license application, but it will mainly function as your application to move on to the next step—the written exam.

In order to apply, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:

  • Submit Application
  • Attach a copy of transcripts (or your progress report, if you completed an apprenticeship)
  • Attach proof of high school graduation
  • Submit $20 application fee

Send your application along with all supporting documents to:

Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
DCCA, PLV Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801

Hawaii does not allow any license application by endorsement or reciprocity, meaning that if you previously held a license in another state or jurisdiction, it will not easily transfer over to help you attain a nail technician license in Hawaii. You will still be required to take and pass the written exam in order to attain a nail technician license in Hawaii.


If you are pursuing licensure through apprenticeship, you will need to apply for the apprentice permit before you can start your apprenticing hours. After you receive the apprentice permit, you may begin your training hours in a licensed salon with licensed beauty operators. Along with this, you will need to keep a record of your training.



Step 3. Prepare for and Pass the Nail Technician Licensing Exam

Once your license and exam application is received and accepted, a letter of approval will be sent to the mailing address on your application. This letter will also come with an “Examination Registration” form for a Prometric exam as well as a Prometric Candidate Information Brochure. Prometric Inc. is the third party examination agency that Hawaii uses for beauty operator licensing exams.

After receiving this notification, you can then register directly with Prometric by submitting the following through their online portal:

  • Your letter of approval
  • Examination registration
  • Required testing fee

The closed-book exam consists of 100 questions that will take about two (2) hours to complete. The exam will cover your knowledge of the following subjects:

  • Infection Control/Bacteriology
  • Client Protection
  • Salon Ethics
  • Salon Safety
  • Nails, Hands, Feet, and Skin
  • Product Knowledge
  • Ingredients and Usage Materials
  • EPA and OSHA Requirements
  • The purpose, result, supplies, and procedures for massages, manicures, pedicures, acrylic nails, gel nails, nail wraps, nail tips, and sculptured nails.
  • Hawaii State Laws and Rules

The exams may be taken at testing sites in the following cities:

  • Hilo
  • Kauai
  • Kona
  • Maui
  • Ohau

After you achieve a passing score, you will receive the final instructions explaining how to apply for your license through the Hawaii Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.



Step 4. Renew your License Every Two Years

Your license will need to be renewed on December 31st of odd numbered years. You are personally responsible for renewing your license, and a failure to renew by the expiration period may lead to you forfeiting your license.

Although the Hawaii Board does not require you to complete continuing education credit hours, it is always beneficial to keep yourself up to date on the latest trends and techniques in beauty, fashion, and nails. The more services you are able to perform, the happier your clients will be!

Now that you’re licensed …

As a licensed nail technician in Hawaii, you will get to apply for jobs at salons, day spas or anywhere else manicures are performed. Since you may be working with tourists, who will schedule their services around their other activities, you may need to be pretty flexible about the hours you work.

Just some of the many spas and nail salons in Hawaii that may be looking to hire nail technicians include:

  • Spa by the Sea – Kapaa
  • Kalona Salon and Spa – Keauhou
  • Maui Nail Bar – Kihei
  • Robbie’s Maui Day Spa – Kihei
  • Classic Complexions – Waimea

Back to Top