Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Oregon

Whether your clients are doing their part to keep Portland weird with a funky nail design or they are after a more classic look, as a nail technician you will use your artistic talents to create a design, shape, or color that fits your customers’ unique style.

Enter Zip:

The Oregon State Board of Cosmetology is responsible for ensuring that you fulfill state-mandated manicurist license requirements, and upon doing so will refer your eligibility to the Oregon Health Licensing Office (HLO) who will issue your cosmetology license for nail technology. At this point you will be considered a cosmetologist practitioner of nail technology. Completing this process successfully will require you to follow these steps:

Complete Oregon’s Nail Technician School Requirements
Pass Oregon’s Required Exams
Obtain Your Oregon Nail Technician License
Start Your New Career and Meet License Renewal Requirements



Step 1. Complete Oregon’s Nail Technician School Requirements

There are two types of Nail Technician schools in Oregon that are recognized by the State Board of Cosmetology:

  • Private career schools – these nail technician schools will include a curriculum of at least 350 hours plus an additional 250 hours in career development, safety, and infection control
  • Competency-based programs – if you already have experience in the field of nail technology you can choose a competency-based program that will allow you to challenge certain manicurist courses and skip portions of the curriculum once you test-out of these

Your curriculum will include nail technician courses that cover the following subjects:

  • Instructions in nail technology
  • Artificial nail techniques
  • Manicure and pedicure
  • Natural nail care
  • Hand and foot massage
  • Safety and sanitation
  • Career development

Consideration for Veteran Training

If you are a veteran of the US Armed Forces you can substitute any relevant training you have received during your period of service to fulfill the nail technician education requirements in Oregon. You will need to contact the State Board of Cosmetology for more information about this option.



Step 2. Pass Oregon’s Required Exams

Once you graduate from your manicurist school it should submit your official transcripts directly to the Oregon Health Licensing Office (OHL). At this point you will be able to submit an Application for Licensure to the OHL as well. Once this application is accepted you will be scheduled to take the following exams:

Practical Nail Technician Exam

If you have not already taken the practical exam as part of your nail technician program you will need to do this at an approved school that serves as an examination site. Your school and the Oregon Health Licensing Office will provide you with more information about this as you near your initial graduation.

The practical exam takes 90 minutes and you will need to demonstrate competency in activities such as:

  • Client preparation and set-up in a safe and hygienic environment
  • Supply preparation
  • Performance of manicures and pedicures
  • Nail tip applications including blending
  • Sculpturing nails
  • Patient procedures and cleanup involving blood exposure

Written Nail Technician Exam

You can take the written exam anytime during the working hours of the Health Licensing Office (HLO) on a walk-in basis. The exam can be divided into two segments:


  • 90-minute, 100 multiple-choice Nail Technology Exam, which will cover the following topics:
    • General – 23 percent
    • Equipment and tools – 23 percent
    • Definitions – 18 percent
    • Chemicals – 17 percent
    • Diseases and disorders – 15 percent
    • Ethics and standards of practice – 4 percent

The Health Licensing Office (HLO) is located in Salem at 700 Summer Street NE, Suite 320.



Step 3. Obtain Your Oregon Nail Technician License

You can obtain your license directly from the Health Licensing Office on the day you take your written exam, provided you pass. Once you have your manicurist license in your hand you can begin applying for nail technician jobs throughout Oregon.

Out-of-State Manicurists

If you are a licensed manicurist in another state you can be eligible for licensure in Oregon by submitting the following to the Health Licensing Office (HLO):

  • Affidavit of Licensure, submitted to the HLO by your home state’s board of cosmetology
  • Written and Practical Exam Application – you will need to submit this to the HLO to take any outstanding exams you haven’t yet taken, such as the Oregon Laws and Rules Exam

Once HLO reviews your Affidavit of Licensure it will send you the remaining application materials you need to fill out to earn a nail technician license through reciprocity.



Step 4. Start Your New Career and Meet License Renewal Requirements

The manicurist job description in Oregon can range from a general nail technician who treats and beautifies nails in a storefront salon, to someone who can create near-microscopic designs in a day spa that caters to Portland’s elite. You will find that as you gain experience and hone your skill, you will be rewarded with a loyal client base. While you focus on building your reputation and learning the tricks of the trade, don’t forget to renew your license.

Your license will expire every two years by the last day of your birth month. You can renew your license before it expires either online or by filling out the renewal form the HLO and Board of Cosmetology sends you six weeks before your license is set to expire.

Nail technician jobs in Oregon can be found anywhere Oregonians want their nails to look perfect. As you begin researching this field you may not be surprised to learn that of the 810 licensed manicurists throughout the state, the vast majority of these professionals work in and around the greater Portland metropolitan area.

As you become a more advanced nail technician and your clients begin fighting over a space in your busy schedule you can think about the following two types of credentials that will expand your career options:

Some manicurists even go on to open their own nail salon or full-service cosmetology salon. The nice thing about a career in nail technology is that your career’s path ultimately depends on what you want and how hard you want to work towards your goals.

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