Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Massachusetts

NAILS, the manicuring industry’s magazine, notes that as of 2012, there were 13,077 licensed manicurists working in 1377 salons, spas and shops in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Manicurists in Massachusetts strive to help clients relax as they are pampered by having their fingernails or toenails attended to. Although nail salons are more popular in urban areas like Boston, they are found all across the commonwealth. As a licensed manicurist in Massachusetts you may choose to work for others, rent a booth in an established salon, or even open your own nail salon out of your own home.

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To become a nail technician, you must first be licensed through the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Cosmetologists. If you are ready to get started, follow these steps:

Complete Nail Technician Training
Apply for Massachusetts Licensure by Examination
Pass the Required Nail Technician Examinations
Find Employment and Maintain Your Nail Technician License



Step 1. Complete Nail Technician Training

The rules of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Cosmetologists states that you must have the proper education before advertising yourself as a nail technician in Massachusetts. In order to become licensed as a Manicurist – Type 3, you must be at least 17 years old, have completed 10th grade at minimum, and complete a course of at least one month duration 100 hours of manicuring training in a Board-approved school.

Schools that house manicure programs are found in these Massachusetts cities:

  • Framingham
  • Ludlow
  • Brockton
  • Fitchburg
  • Lowell
  • New Bedford
  • West Springfield
  • Boston

Your 100 hours of training will combine lecture and practical courses. You will study the following subject matter:

  • First aid
  • Safety and sanitation
  • Artificial nail techniques
  • Professional ethics
  • Salon management
  • State laws
  • Basic manicuring with hand/arm massage
  • Hygiene
  • Anatomy

During your program, your practical coursework will take place on a mannequin hand or that of a real-life person. You will demonstrate the skills and techniques you have learned in the classroom on real or simulated nails.



Step 2. Apply for Massachusetts Licensure by Examination

Upon completion of your nail technician coursework, your Massachusetts manicuring school will provide you with the necessary application to apply for nail technician licensure by examination. Make sure a representative from your Massachusetts nail technician school completes the School Certification section of the application.

All applications are submitted to Pearson Vue, the administrators of the nail technician examinations in Massachusetts. You will schedule the exam through them via phone (800-274-2021) or fax (888-204-6291).

Pearson Vue exam centers are located in Framingham, West Springfield and Malden. You will pay your exam fee of $120 when you schedule the exam, but must bring your licensing fee of $68 with you on examination day.



Step 3. Pass the Required Nail Technician Examinations

Written Exam for Nail Technicians – You will be given 90 minutes to complete 50 multiple choice questions on the Manicuring Written Exam. Topics will include:

    • Rules, regulations and safety:
      • Sanitation
      • Disinfection
      • Personal hygiene
      • Client contact


    • Nail structure and nail analysis:
      • Nail condition
      • Health conditions precluding treatment


    • Professional services:
      • Massage
      • Manicure
      • Pedicure


  • Nail enhancements:
    • Applying and removing nail tips
    • Applying and removing gels and acrylics
    • Tools, equipment, products
    • Maintenance
    • Nail repair

You will receive your score as soon as you complete the exam, and must receive a 75 or better to pass this portion of the exam.

Practical Exam for Nail Technicians – You will be given 90 minutes to complete five tasks during the Manicuring Practical Examination. You must bring an adult model, at least age 16 or older, with unmanicured, unpolished fingernails to the examination.

You must also bring your own supplies, listed here. The five practical tasks on which you are tested are:

  • Infection control and safety
  • Basic manicure
  • Nail tip application
  • Hand and arm massage
  • Polish application

You must score 80 or better in order to pass the exam. You will learn your score the day of the exam. Upon passing both parts of the Manicuring Exam, the test center will collect your licensure fee and issue you a photo license, allowing you to begin work as a Manicurist-Type 3 immediately.



Step 4. Find Employment and Maintain Your Nail Technician License

Well done! You are now a licensed Massachusetts nail technician! Your Manicurist-Type 3 license will renew every two years on your birthday. You need not fulfill any continuing education requirements in order to renew it.

Your Manicurist-Type 3 license in Massachusetts will, according to the laws of the Commonwealth, allow you to work in a manicuring salon, cosmetology salon or aesthetics salon. You may rent space within a salon, work for the salon owner, or open your own salon. Information on starting your own salon may be obtained from the Board at (617) 727-9940.

Examples of some of the more prominent salons and spas in Massachusetts in which manicurists work include:

  • Crown Day Spa – Haverhill
  • QuickBeauty, Inc. – Everett
  • Nails & Co Spa – Natick
  • Pure Salon and Hydrotherapy Spa – Dracut
  • Body by Blo – Boston
  • MZ Style Hair and Nail – Newton
  • The Beach – Chelmsford
  • MiniLuxe-Newton and Brookline
  • Elizabeth Grady- Franklin
  • Signature Studios- Mashpee

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