Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Illinois

As a nail technician in Illinois, you will be expected to be on the cutting edge of the latest tends in nail health and beauty. The Chicago, Joliet, Naperville area is among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the United States in terms of employment numbers for manicurists and pedicurists.

Enter Zip:

Your path to this fun and rewarding career starts with earning a license through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. As a nail technician, you get to delve deeply into the specialization of nail treatments, manicures, and pedicures.

For information on how to become a licensed nail technician in Illinois, follow these simple steps:

Enroll in a Nail Technician Education Program
Apply for and Pass the Required Exams
Submit a License Application
Look for Work and Keep your License Current



Step 1. Enroll in a Nail Technician Education Program

Your first step toward becoming a licensed nail technician in Illinois is fulfilling the educational requirements. For Illinois, you need to be at least sixteen (16) years old, have completed at least 10th grade, and then graduate from a cosmetology school or nail technology school that includes at least 350 hours of coursework and training.

Your education will include the practical, theoretical, and business sides of manicuring and pedicuring, as well as all of the information you would ever need to know to be a successful manicurist.

Courses cover services related to nail art, decoration, and application of product to the hands, feet, arms, elbows, lower legs, and knees. You can often attend either full or part-time, making nail technician school an easy add-on to your current lifestyle.

In these schools, you will take courses including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Classic Manicure
  • No-Chip Manicure
  • Classic Manicure with Paraffin Wax
  • Classic Pedicure
  • Classic Manicure and Pedicure
  • Nail Clipping
  • Illinois laws and regulations

Not only will these schools provide you with your foundational education, but many of them offer continuing education, as well, so that you can keep up to date on the latest nail trends and techniques.



Step 2. Apply for and Pass the Required Exams

In Illinois, the required nail technician exams are provided through Continental Testing Services (CTS). You can find thorough, detailed instructions on how to apply for the exam, schedule your exam, what will be on the exam, and a study guide for the exam on the Candidate Study Guide. To apply, locate the exam by choosing the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation Exams (IDFPR), and select Licensed Nail Technician.

To take this exam, you will need to do the following:

  • Submit an examination application
  • Read through nail technician study guide
  • Receive email approval from CTS to take exam
  • Within 60 days of the approval, schedule and take the exam

You will be able to schedule your exam at any PSI testing center, located in the following Illinois cities:

  • Chicago
  • Springfield
  • Carbondale
  • Champaign
  • East Peoria
  • Evansville
  • Galesburg
  • Glen Ellyn

The CTS test is a written exam, which covers, but is not limited to, the following nail technician-specific subjects:

  • Health and Safety
  • Infection Control
  • Handling and Storing Materials
  • Following Sanitation Procedures
  • Nail Care
  • Understanding Nail Composition and Structure
  • Analyzing and Caring for Nails
  • Nail Technology Services
  • Preparing for Manicures and Pedicures
  • Using Manicuring Tools
  • Applying Manicuring Techniques


If you want to apply for a license by endorsement, you must hold a current license in a different jurisdiction, and submit materials to prove that your education was equal to that required by Illinois.

If your education consisted of less than 350 hours, you can complete up to 50 hours of training in an Illinois licensed cosmetology school. You will need to verify your previous license, your previous employment, and your previous education, and along with this, you will need to submit the application to take the CTS exam.

You can send all of this information to the following examination address:

Continental Testing Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 100
LaGrange, IL 60252

You will receive your official scores within two (2) weeks of taking the exam, and you must apply for your license within one (1) year of being notified of your passing scores.



Step 3. Submit a License Application

After you have completed your education and been notified that you passed your exam, you will be given directions on how to submit the application for licensure (the same application that was used for examination) as well as the appropriate fee. If you do not apply for your license within one (1) year of receiving your passing scores, everything will be void, and you will need to apply for the exam, pass the exam, and apply for a license again.

To make sure that you apply for your license, follow these simple steps:

  • Submit completed application
  • Submit official transcripts form nail technology school (with school seal affixed)
  • Submit official exam scores
  • Submit appropriate fee



Step 4. Look for Work and Keep your License Current

As a manicurist, you will find that you can apply for full-time or part-time jobs in salons and spas, or you can choose to have your own booth and work from home. Whatever you do, you will want to make sure you’re creating a strong client base.

If you’re looking to apply at a salon or spa, consider these options:

  • Salon Couture – Chicago
  • Salon Evangelos – Orland Park
  • Regis Salon – Joliet
  • Charles Morris Salon – New Lenox
  • Katrina Salon and Spa – Batavia

In order to renew your license, you will need to complete a minimum of ten (10) hours of continuing education during each biannual renewal period before October 31st of each even-numbered year. The courses must be approved by the Board, and they must directly relate to your nail practice.

This could included courses such as:

  • Review of sanitary procedures
  • Review of chemical service procedures
  • Review of Illinois laws and regulations

After you have completed your continuing education, you may renew online.

Back to Top