Nail Technician School and License Requirements in North Carolina

Are you interested in a career where you get to spend each day in a fun, upbeat salon environment or a calm, relaxing spa setting while serving loyal and grateful clients? If so, becoming a mani-pedi professional is perfect for you.

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For guidance on the licensing requirements for the manicurist profession in North Carolina, follow this simple guide:

Gain Formal Training through Nail Technician School
Pass the Licensing Exams
Submit a License Application
Complete Continuing Education to Keep your License Current
Explore Advanced Career Opportunities in North Carolina

The beginning of your exciting and stable career as a licensed nail technician in North Carolina starts with the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners, which is the Board that regulates and maintains licensing requirements for cosmetologists, estheticians, and manicurists. As a manicurist, or nail technician, you get to specialize in the study of nails, hands, and feet.



Step 1. Gain Formal Training through Nail Technician School

Manicurist school is a fun way to become an expert in the field of nail health and beauty. Applying to an approved cosmetic art school will teach you everything from how to develop the perfect nail tip, to how to market yourself as a personal care services professional.

The North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners requires that you complete a program consisting of at least three hundred (300) hours of theory courses and practice hours distributed as follows:

25 hours in:

  • Manicuring Theory
  • Disinfection
  • First Aid
  • Trimming
  • Filing
  • Shaping
  • Decorating
  • Arm and Hand Manipulation
  • Sculptured and Artificial Nails
  • Pedicuring

275 hours in:

  • Advanced Styles and Techniques
  • Advanced Treatment and Decoration
  • Business and Retail Management

15 hours (5 on a mannequin and 10 on a live model):

  • Trimming
  • Filing
  • Shaping
  • Decorating
  • Arm and Hand Manipulation

20 hours (5 on a mannequin and 15 on a live model):

  • Application or repair of sculptured or artificial nails

10 hours of pedicures on a live model



Step 2. Pass the Licensing Exams

Now that you’ve graduated from beauty school, you are eligible to take and pass the State Board exams, which are offered by DL Roope Administrations. DL Roope now offers online applications for North Carolina residents, so to take the exam you will apply online.

There are two exams offered for North Carolina: the NC Nail Technician Practical exam, and the NC Nail Technician Written Exam.

Practical Exam

The practical exam candidate information bulletin sets out all of the details you will need to know for the exam, including the following:

  • Eligibility
  • Online and Paper Exam Applications
  • Out of State Candidates
  • Application Procedures
  • Exam Fee Policies
  • General and Important Instructions
  • Exam Task Lines and Verbal Instructions

You will need to bring your own kit and hand mannequin to this exam. The exam will cover your ability to perform the following manicurist services:

  • Set up and client protection
  • Manicure
  • Nail tip
  • Nail wrap
  • Sculptured nail
  • Polish
  • Candidate summary and final cleanup

Written Exam

The written exam candidate information bulletin outlines similar concepts, as well as a detailed list of what the written exam will cover, including, but not limited to:

  • Scientific Concepts of Infection Control
  • Bacteriology
  • Viruses, Fungi, and Bacteria, and how they spread
  • Methods of sanitation
  • Disinfection
  • Sterilization
  • Dispensing Products
  • OSHA requirements for safety, storage, labeling, disposal, blood born pathogens, Universal Precautions, and prevention
  • Basic human anatomy and physiology
  • Nail anatomy and physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Product knowledge
  • Client Assessments
  • Manicures and Pedicures

You must pass both of these exams with at least a 75% or higher in order to be eligible to apply for a license.



Step 3. Submit a License Application

After you graduate from your manicurist school and pass the state board exams, you are now eligible to apply for your license. All you need to so is complete the following steps:

  • Submit Online or Paper License Application
  • Certify passing scores on state board exams
  • Submit $20 manicurist license fee

Temporary Permit

If you need a temporary permit, you can apply for one if you have completed the following:

  • Submitted graduation paperwork completed by the manicurist school
  • Submitted an examination application to D.L. Roope
  • Submits temporary permit form
  • Submits $5 fee

This permit will allow you to work for six (6) months after your graduation, but it may not be renewed.



Step 4. Complete Continuing Education to Keep your License Current

You must complete a minimum of eight (8) continuing education (CE) credits each annual license renewal cycle in order to maintain your license. At least 50% of the CE credits must be concerning direct practice in your cosmetic art profession. You must keep records of the following information:

  • Course title
  • Description
  • Date
  • Address of location
  • Number of hours earned

You will then sign and date an affirmation of course completion. After you have completed continuing education, you will be able to renew your license online or through a paper renewal form.

The Board will notify you before you need to renew, and they will send you instructions on how to complete the renewal form.



Step 5. Explore Advanced Career Opportunities in North Carolina

Once you have been working as a manicurist in North Carolina for a while, you can consider becoming a manicurist teacher! This will change your job and job description drastically, as it will involve teaching others to perform nail care services.

You are eligible to apply for a license as a manicurist teacher if:

  • Complete three hundred and twenty (320) hours of educator training through a manicurist teacher program


  • Work for two (2) years full-time in a cosmetic art shop

If you meet the above requirements, and you would like to apply for licensure as a manicurist teacher, all you will need to do is complete the following steps:

  • Submit Teaching Application
  • Submit proof that you have passed the State Board exam with at least a 85% or higher
  • Submit proof of current manicurist license

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