Nail Technician School and License Requirements in New Jersey

Imagine getting to work in a relaxing environment that revolves around beauty and wellness! If that sounds like perfection to you, then consider becoming a manicurist.

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New Jersey is home to the highest concentration of professional manicurists in the country. The demand for quality nail health and beautification services in New Jersey’s booming salon and spay industry is driven largely by wealthy clientele in coastal communities like Avalon and Stone Harbor, and other upscale areas like Morris County.

Your career as a manicurist in New Jersey starts by earning a license through the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling. For guidance on the nail technician license requirements in New Jersey, follow the steps in this guide:

Complete 300 Hours of Nail Technician School
Submit Application to Sit for Examination and Licensure
Pass State Board Exams
Begin your Career and Renew Your License Every Other Year



Step 1. Complete 300 Hours of Nail Technician School

If you are at least seventeen (17) years old and a high school graduate, you are eligible to take the first step toward a manicurist license: formal training.

The New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling requires your program to offer at least three hundred (300) hours of instruction to fulfill the educational licensing requirements. However, many schools will even go further than that by offering advanced training in everything from business management to safety procedures.

Nail technician school will prepare you to provide comprehensive manicuring services through courses that cover:

  • The Art of Nail Design
  • The Science of Nails and Skin
  • The Manicuring Business
  • Manicuring and Pedicuring
  • Nail Tips and Extensions
  • Nail Wraps
  • Nail Gels
  • Sculptured Nails
  • Nail Art
  • Decontamination and Infection Control
  • Diseases and Disorders of the Nail
  • Anatomy of the Hand, Arm, Foot, and Leg
  • Removal of Unwanted Hair
  • Chemicals and Chemistry
  • Salon Management
  • Administrative Shop Operations
  • State Board Exam Preparation
  • State Laws, Rules, and Regulations for Manicurists



Step 2. Submit Application to Sit for Examination and Licensure

Your application will serve two purposes: it will allow you to take the Board exams, and it will be your application for your license. What this means, is that once you take and pass your exams, you will be immediately issued a license.

You need to apply to the Board to be eligible to take the exam and to receive the license. To complete this application, follow these steps:

  • Download and completely fill out the Application for Authorization to Sit for the Examination and for Licensure
  • Attach two current photos
  • Submit application fee of $50.00 and licensing fee of either $60.00 or $30.00, depending on whether you are in the first or second year of the licensing cycle, respectively
  • Submit proof of completed education (high school and 300-hour manicuring license courses)
  • Notarized Affidavit
  • Certificate of Experience for any previous work experience
  • Physician’s Certificate
  • Certification of Cosmetology School

You will submit all documentation to the following address:

New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling
124 Halsey Street, 6th Floor, P.O. Box 45003
Newark, New Jersey 07101
(973) 504-6400

If you are applying for a student permit, or for a license by endorsement, you will need to complete the following steps as well. Otherwise, the previous initial manicurist license application serves as your only application for both examination and license.

Student Permit – You can obtain a student permit if you are currently registered as a student in a manicurist school and have completed at least one hundred (100) course hours. The permit will remain valid during your education program, and it will expire when you graduate. This permit will allow you to practice manicuring services in a school clinic or a shop while you are still a student. Apply through the online student permit application process.

Licensure by Endorsement—If you previously held a license in a different state, you can apply for your license through endorsement. To do so, complete the following steps:

  • Submit Application for Licensure by Endorsement (and all required documents within)
  • Submit $100 application fee and $60 or $30 licensing fee
  • Submit proof of previous license and work experience



Step 3. Pass State Board Exams

Once you submit your license, you will be issued a date and time to sit for the state exams provided by the Board. The Board will both administer and grade these exams. The State Board exams will measure your competency based on the theoretical and practical training you received in beauty school. The exam will contain both a theory and a practical exam.


The theory exam is a written exam, and you will have to pass this exam first. Schedule your exam directly with the New Jersey Board exam vendor, Prometric. To schedule your exam, complete the following steps:

  • Download and Read the Candidate Information Bulletin
  • Complete the Exam Registration Form (on page eleven (11) of the Bulletin)
  • Schedule and Pay for the Exam Online

This manicurist theory exam will be closed-book, and it will take about (2) hours. The one hundred and five (105) questions on the exam will be concerning the following manicurist subjects:

  • Infection Control
  • Salon Ethics
  • Salon Management
  • Anatomy
  • Chemical Concepts
  • Massage
  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Gel Nails
  • Nail Artistry
  • Nail Wraps
  • Nail Tips
  • Sculptured Nails
  • New Jersey Laws and Regulations


Now that you have received your passing scores on the written exam, you will be able to schedule your practical exam directly with the Board. When the Board receives notice of you passing the written exam, they will send you a notice of the date, time, and location for your practical exam. The practical exam will require you to actually, physically perform manicuring services for the Board. You will perform services including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Manicuring of fingernails
  • Pedicuring of toenails
  • Nail Sculpting
  • Hair Removal
  • Nail Tip
  • Nail Wrap
  • Nail Sculpting

You must pass this exam with a score of at least 75%. Your original exam fee allows you to take the exam two (2) times, but you will have to pay another fee if you need to take it three (3) times in order to meet the passing scores.

You must pass this exam with a 75% or higher, as well, in order to receive your license. Once you complete and pass these exams, your manicurist license will be issued to you!



Step 4. Begin your Career and Renew Your License Every Other Year

As a licensed manicurist in New Jersey, you can explore many different job opportunities in everything from nail-exclusive salons to full service spas.

There are a number of different nail technician jobs, each with a unique job description. Among these job titles are:

  • Nail Arts Specialist
  • Image Consulting
  • Nail Photography Stylist
  • Beauty magazine writer

After working as a manicurist, you will be able to take steps to advance your career, as well. For instance, once you have been working as a manicurist for at least three (3) years, you can apply for a beauty shop license. Attaining a beauty shop license will enable you to operate your own salon or spa, and in New Jersey, you could even choose to open that shop in the comfort of your own home!

Your nail technician license is good for two years at a time. The Board will notify you every two (2) years of your upcoming license renewal date. They will send out the notification at least sixty (60) days before your license is scheduled to expire. You will need to submit a renewal form and appropriate fee in order to renew, or you will risk losing your license due to expiration.

The Board does not require you to take any continuing education before you are allowed to renew, but taking advanced courses are a great way to increase your earning potential, since they teach you new trends and techniques to keep you on the cutting edge of the nail industry.

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