Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Michigan

Manicurists in Michigan routinely work on clients’ hands and feet to help them stay beautiful and healthy. Some, however, go beyond their expected duties. A prominent salon in Commerce employs a professional dubbed “The Singing Manicurist.” He sings to his clients while performing his manicuring techniques, striving to make the experience even more entertaining and relaxing.

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You don’t need to be a singer to qualify for a manicurist license through the Michigan Board of Cosmetology, but you will need to complete these steps:

Get Your Nail Technician Education or Qualify Through Experience
Apply for Michigan Manicurist Licensure by Examination
Pass the Nail Technician Examinations
Explore Professional Options and Maintain Your Michigan Nail Technician License



Step 1. Get Your Nail Technician Education or Qualify Through Experience

If you are at least 17 years old and have completed a ninth grade education, the Michigan Board of Cosmetology outlines two ways in which you can qualify for a manicurist license:

Option 1: Complete 400 hours of training in a licensed school of cosmetology. There are many schools with Board-approved manicurist training programs that may be found here. They are located all across the state of Michigan in places including:

  • Alpena
  • Hudsonville
  • Bay City
  • Cadillac
  • Detroit
  • Brighton
  • Warren
  • Auburn
  • Oak Park
  • Highland Park
  • Flint
  • Waterford

If you choose this option, the Board has specified what your 400 hours of manicuring curriculum must include. You must complete a minimum of 145 hours of theory courses and 205 hours of practical coursework in the following:

  • Sanitation/patron protection
  • Laws and rules
  • Personal hygiene
  • Mechanical and electrical equipment safety
  • Salon management
  • Artistic principles
  • Anatomy/disorders
  • Chemistry/occupational safety
  • Manicuring/pedicuring techniques
  • Artificial nails, extensions and repairs

Option 2: Complete a six-month apprenticeship in a licensed cosmetology establishment. If you choose this route, you must receive instruction in all of the areas outlined above in Option 1. You must complete the application for Apprenticeship Training Program. Your training must last six months and 480 hours under the supervision of a licensed practitioner. Once your apprenticeship has completed, you must take the manicurist examination and may not work again until you have received your manicurist license.



Step 2. Apply for Michigan Manicurist Licensure by Examination

When you finish your manicuring training or apprenticeship, you are ready to apply for licensure by examination. You will submit your licensure application online, where you will also pay licensing fees.

Any additional documentation must be mailed to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Commercial Services, Licensing Division, Cosmetology, P.O. Box 30244, Lansing, MI 48909. The Board will send you an approval letter to schedule your manicurist exam once your application has been processed.



Step 3. Pass the Nail Technician Examinations

Schedule your Michigan manicurist exams through PSI Exam Online after receiving your pre-approval letter from the Board. You must pass a practical and theory examination. The total cost for both exams is $161 and may be paid through PSI Exam Online. Review the Candidate Information Bulletin for more information.

Theory Exam

The Theory Exam is offered at the following PSI Exam Centers in Michigan:

  • Holt
  • Marquette
  • Gaylord
  • Grand Rapids
  • Southfield

This computerized exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions on the following topics. You have two hours to complete the exam:

    • General Concepts:
      • Infection control
      • Client protection


    • Applied anatomy:
      • Bacteriology
      • Anatomy and physiology


    • Chemical concepts:
      • Manicuring and pedicuring
      • EPA and OSHA requirements
      • Ingredients and materials usage
      • Product knowledge


    • Physical concepts:
      • Purpose and effects
      • Preparation
      • Equipment and supplies
      • Procedures
      • Care, sanitation and safety


  • State laws and regulations:
    • Meeting licensure requirements
    • Licensed duties
    • Board responsibilities/disciplinary actions
    • Displaying your license
    • Salon owner/manager responsibilities
    • Change of address

You must score 70 percent or better to pass the theory portion of the exam. You will receive a score report as soon as you finish the test.

Practical Exam

The Practical Exam is offered at the following Michigan PSI Exam Centers:

  • Southfield
  • Marquette
  • Gaylord

The practical part of the exam takes one hour and 45 minutes to complete. You must bring a mannequin hand and your own supplies (a list of what you need is here). You will be graded on your practical knowledge and skills involving procedures and safety criteria for:

  • Pre-exam set up and disinfection
  • Manicure service
  • Nail tip application service
  • Nail wrap service
  • Sculptured nail service
  • End of exam disinfection

You need a score of 75 percent (58 points) or better to pass the practical part of the exam. A written score report will be mailed to you about 10 days after the exam.

If you meet the licensure requirements after passing the theory portion of the exam, you will receive a temporary license at the PSI Exam Center. Your final license will be mailed to you within seven days of passing the exam.



Step 4. Explore Professional Options and Maintain Your Michigan Nail Technician License

Congratulations on getting your Michigan manicurist license! You must renew your license every two years. You will be notified by mail about 60 days before your license is set to expire. Renewals are handled online, where you may also pay the $48 renewal fee. The Board does not require you to complete any continuing education to renew your Michigan manicurist license.

With your Michigan manicurist license in hand, you are ready to find a job in the Wolverine State. Options are available for you to work in someone else’s spa or salon, rent a booth in someone else’s salon or spa, and open your own salon or spa. Examples of some of the most prominent employers of Michigan manicurists are:

  • Excentriz Salon & Spa – Kalamazoo
  • Lakes Foot and Ankle Associates Sole Serenity Spa – Commerce
  • Lillian’s Salon – Detroit
  • Unica Salon and Spa – Grand Rapids
  • 5 Star Nails and Spa – Troy
  • Salon Stephon – Grosse Point Woods
  • Rouge Salon & Spa – Dearborn
  • Life Time Fitness-Novi, Bloomfield, Commerce and Troy
  • Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa – Thompsonville
  • Artistry of Hair – Farmington Hills
  • JCPenney – Brighton

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