Nail Technician School and License Requirements in New York

As a manicurist in New York, your clients will expect you to be in the know about all the newest nail styles in vogue around the world. As a nail specialist, you will provide services designed to beautify and promote the health of clients’ nails, hands, and feet. But working in New York’s thriving salon and personal care services industry also means you will be setting new trends, not following them.

Enter Zip:

Not surprisingly, New York has the highest concentration of nail stylists in the country. To qualify for a nail specialist license through the New York State Division of Licensing Services, follow the steps in this guide:

Complete Nail Specialist Education and Training
Submit your Exam and License Application
Pass the Required Board Exams
Begin your Career and Keep your License Current



Step 1. Complete Nail Specialist Education and Training

As long as you are at least seventeen (17) years old, you can start the first step toward becoming a licensed manicurist—graduating from nail technician school.

The Board requires that you complete at least two hundred and fifty (250) hours of formal training and education.

Nail specialist training is a fun and quick way to learn everything you need to know to become a success in New York’s salon and spa industry. In addition to developing skills related to nail health and beautification, you may also take courses on the business and retail aspects of operating an independent studio:

  • Nail Art
  • Nail Wraps
  • Oils, Scrubs, Masques, and Nail Treatments
  • Signature Treatments for Spa Pedicures
  • Specialty Massages for the Manicurist
  • Understanding the World of Spa
  • Gel Nails
  • Job Skills
  • Business Practices
  • Client Consultation
  • Infection Control
  • Bacteriology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

At the end of your schooling, make sure you have your school fill out the Affirmation of New York Stat Approved Schooling section of your license application.

New York will waive the educational requirement if you have received similar education in another state or country. To prove this, you will need to submit the following information:

  • School certification
  • School transcripts that list hours and subjects completed
  • Current certification of licensure


  • A current certification from your state Board verifying your education.

If you meet these requirements and have your education waived, you will still need to pass the required exams to receive a license in New York.



Step 2. Submit your Exam and License Application

The next step is submitting the application for your exam and license based on your education. Because there is sometimes a wait period between the submission of your application and the completion of your exams, you are also allowed to apply for a temporary permit.

To submit an application for exam and license, you will need to complete the following:

Application for Examination and License

To submit this application, all you need to do is complete the following:

  • Submit Application
  • Check the box for licensure based on New York State Education and Examination, and request a six (6)-month temporary permit
  • Submit Affirmation of Approved School
  • Submit $50 application and temporary permit fee

Temporary Permit

If you are applying for a license by education and examination, you may have to wait for a short period of time before you can take and pas the exams. Because of this, you may apply for a temporary permit so you can work legally before taking the exams. You can apply for a two (2) six (6)-month temporary permit using the nail specialty exam and license application.

Once your full application is received and approved, you will get detailed information from the Board on how to schedule and take the Board exams.

Application by Experience

If you have worked as a manicurist for a total of five (5) years outside of New York but within the United States, you may be eligible to qualify for the license based on your experience. To apply for a license based on your experience, you will need to submit the following information:

  • Original license
  • Two experience statements (filled out by employers, co-workers, clients, etc.)
  • Copy of tax returns showing “Nail Specialty” as your occupation

If your work was outside the United States, you will need to submit the following:

  • Original license or letter from the consulate that a license is not required for practice in your country
  • Letter from employer(s) detailing your exact work experience (dates, locations, services)
  • Letter from your client(s) or coworker(s) detailing your work experience (dates, locations, services)
  • Copy of passport (or other identification) signifying that nail specialty is your occupation
  • Copy of tax returns showing “Nail Specialty” as your occupation
  • Copy of education curriculum and diploma or certification

If your application based on experience is accepted, you can get a nail specialty license in New York without taking the exams.



Step 3. Pass the Required Board Exams

The last step to earning your nail specialty license in New York is to pass the exams. The Board offers two different exams that you need to pass: the written exam and the practical exam.

Written Exam

The written exam is a multiple-choice, two and one half (2 ½) hour exam that will be based entirely on your education—including aspects of safety, sanitation, professionalism, and New York rules and regulations. The Exam Procedures outline what you should bring with you to the test center, exam site policies, and your score reporting. You must pass this exam with at least a 70% in order to attain your license.

You can take the written exam at any of the following locations:

  • Albany
  • Binghamton
  • Buffalo
  • Franklin square
  • Hauppauge
  • New York City
  • Newburgh
  • Rochester
  • Syracuse
  • Utica
  • Plattsburgh

Practical Exam

The Practical Exam Information outlines how to schedule the exam, how to be admitted, the exam procedures, and the list of supplies you will need to bring with you. This exam will be two and a half (2 ½) hours, and it will cover your ability to perform the following procedures:

  • Table Set-Up
  • Basic Manicure
  • Tip Application
  • Wrap Application
  • Acrylic Application
  • Polish Application

You will complete this exam based on a pre-existing script from which instructions will be read aloud. You must score at least a 70% on this exam as well, in order to be eligible for your license.

Once you receive your passing scores, you will be issued a license!



Step 4. Begin your Career and Keep your License Current

As a manicurist and pedicurist, you will be able to choose your hours and employment setting – working part-time or full-time, in a nail salon or full-service salon, or maybe even as a salon manager! With advanced education, the opportunities are endless.

If you’re looking to explore job opportunities in a full-service salon, consider some of the thousands of locations in New York:

  • Le Cachet Spa and Laser Center
  • Gerard Bollei Salon
  • Graceful Spa
  • Euphoria Spa
  • Svetlana Salon
  • Redley’s Unisex Full Service

The New York manicurist license is a four-year license. Three (3) months before the expiration of this license, you will get a notification through your My NYS License Center account that will include a renewal link. When you click the link, it will take you through the renewal process.

Although the Board does not require you to complete any continuing education, taking advanced courses is a great way to stay current in the rapidly changing beauty industry. The more services you learn to perform, the more clients you will be able to see!

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