Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Rhode Island

As a professional nail technician working in Rhode Island you will give your clients something to brag about when they show off their mani or pedi to friends and coworkers. Whether providing a simple gel polish, or a spa experience complete with relaxing footbath and hand massage, your clients will turn to you for all their nail health and beauty needs. You may find this career appealing because of your natural conversational abilities and love for intricate nail work, but you will also enjoy the stability and competitive pay it offers.

Enter Zip:

The Rhode Island Board of Hairdressing and Barbering is responsible for reviewing and approving your application for licensure, while the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Office of Professionals Regulation will issue your license once you are approved. Earning a nail technician license in Rhode Island will require you to navigate the following steps:

Complete your Education in an Approved Manicurist School in Rhode Island
Apply for a Manicurist License with the Board of Hairdressing and Barbering
Pass the State Nail Technician Exams
Start Painting Nails in Rhode Island



Step 1. Complete your Education in an Approved Manicurist School in Rhode Island

To be eligible for licensure you will need to be a high school graduate or equivalent who is at least 18 years of age.

You must also complete a course of study from any of the Board-approved nail technician schools in Rhode Island. Your manicurist training courses must total at least 300 hours, and cover subjects such as:

  • Safety, hygiene, and health
  • Procedures for manicures and pedicures
  • Nail anatomy and physiology
  • Nail art and creative techniques
  • Nail filing techniques
  • Sculptured nails
  • Creating a safe, productive, and ethical work environment

You can complete your manicurist school requirements through campus-based training programs located throughout the state in places like:

  • Providence
  • Warwick
  • Cranston
  • Pawtucket
  • Woonsocket



Step 2. Apply for a Manicurist License with the Board of Hairdressing and Barbering

Your application for a manicurist license will be approved when you pass a two-part theory and practical exam. To submit an application:

  • Submit a completed application for licensure
  • Submit a notarized copy of proof of a high school education or have your high school or GED program send your official transcripts to the Board of Hairdressing and Barbering
  • Have your nail technician school send your official transcripts directly to the Board

You can arrange to send these documents to the Board’s address in Providence:

  • Rhode Island Department of Health
    Board of Hairdressing and Barbering
    Room 104, 3 Capitol Hill
    Providence, RI 02908-5097

Nail Technicians from Other States

If you are already a licensed nail technician in a different state, you may be eligible for a nail technician license in Rhode Island. You will need to prove that your current out-of-state license required you to fulfill conditions that were similar to the license requirements in Rhode Island. This means you will need to arrange for the following to be submitted to the Board of Hairdressing and Barbering:

  • Proof of a current out-of-state nail technician license
  • Proof of completion of high school or its equivalent
  • Proof of completion of a nail technician education program that is at least 300 hours in length
  • Official verification that you have passed both a theory and practical nail technician exam

If you are lacking in any of these requirements you will need to remedy this before you can be eligible for licensure in Rhode Island, either by completing any outstanding education requirements or supplemental hours, and/or by taking the necessary test or tests. You can substitute three months of work experience for 20 hours of manicurist education, up to a maximum of 100 hours.

Once you meet these requirements you can complete the above application for licensure. Upon receiving your application, the Board will issue you a 90-day temporary manicurist license that will allow you to legally practice in Rhode Island while your standard license is being processed.



Step 3. Pass the State Nail Technician Exams

The final step you will need to complete is passing both a written and practical nail technician exam with a minimum score of 70 percent. The Rhode Island Board of Hairdressing and Barbering can choose any exam to administer, and you can have a good idea of what to expect by reviewing the written and practical exams sponsored by the National Interstate-Council (NIC) of State Boards of Cosmetology.

By law, at least twice a year the Board must offer these exams at locations of its choosing. You will receive more information about scheduling your exam once you have submitted a complete application for licensure.

Written Nail Technician Examination

The written exam will evaluate your understanding of manicurists and associated skills, such as:

  • Nail service tools
  • Client consultation and documentation
  • Manicure and pedicure services
  • Preparation for nail services
  • Application, removal, and maintenance procedures for nail services
  • Nail product chemistry
  • Safety procedures and infection control

Practical Nail Technician Examination

For the practical exam you will need to demonstrate the performance of activities such as the following to an evaluator:

  • Work area preparation and cleanliness
  • Supply set up and tool preparation
  • Client preparation
  • Manicure and application of nail polish
  • Application and blending of nail tip
  • Nail sculpturing
  • Protocols and procedures for blood cleanup and disinfection



Step 4. Start Painting Nails in Rhode Island

Once you have earned your license you can start looking for nail technician jobs. You may find that the manicurist job description differs from one salon to another. Some establishments will be searching for someone who specializes in nail painting, shellacking, and sculpting, while other places may seek someone who can also do foot baths as well as hand and feet massages.

Some of the top nail salons in Rhode Island include:

Once you have reached an advanced stage in your manicurist career you can think about filling out an Application for Shop Space. This will allow you to rent out space in a salon or other facility where you can serve your own clients and be your own boss. The next step from this point would be to open up your own independent nail salon or spa.

As you develop your skills and perfect your technique, don’t forget that you will need to renew your license every two years. The Rhode Island Department of Health will mail you a license renewal form at least one month before your license is set to expire, so it is important that you keep your most current address on record.

Back to Top