Nail Technician School and License Requirements in South Carolina

The ladies of South Carolina want their nails to shine and sparkle – whether for a Friday night out at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, a wedding in Table Rock State Park, or as a reward for a tough day at the office in Columbia. As a nail technician you will transform this dream into a reality, using your attention to detail and your best esthetic senses to style and socialize your clients through an enjoyable experience at your nail salon or spa.

Enter Zip:

To be a successful manicurist you will need to be able to shape, cut, paint, and coddle nails. Being a people person and a good listener will help you build your client base and become a successful businessperson in the salon industry.

To qualify for a nail technician license through the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology, just follow these simple steps:

Complete an Approved Nail Technician Training Program
Pass the Nail Technician Theory and Practical Examinations
Obtain Your Nail Technician License from the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology
Begin Your New Nail Technician Career in South Carolina



Step 1. Complete an Approved Nail Technician Training Program

The nail technician school requirement is the first hurdle you will need to clear to qualify for a license in South Carolina. You will need to enroll in a school approved by the state’s Board of Cosmetology that offers a program consisting of at least 300 hours of manicurist courses.

Your nail technician courses must include the following:

  • Nail technology – 105 hours
  • Sanitation and safety – 75 hours
  • Artificial nails – 50 hours
  • Anatomy and physiology – 30 hours
  • Power equipment – 25 hours
  • State law – 15 hours

You can find resources for completing the manicurist school requirement through the South Carolina Association of Cosmetology Schools.

To be eligible for licensure you will need to be at least 16 years of age with at least a 10th grade education.

Once you complete your manicurist school it will issue proof of your graduation in the form of a Nail Technician Training Affidavit. This will be used later when you apply for your nail technician exams.



Step 2. Pass the Nail Technician Theory and Practical Examinations

You will need to pass the nail technician exams within two years of graduating from your manicurist education program. The South Carolina Board of Cosmetology contracts the administration of these exams out to the testing company Professional Credential Services (PCS). You will therefore need to make your application for testing with PCS. This will also serve as your application for a nail technician license with the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology.

To apply for nail technician testing, you will need to create an account with PCS through their website and arrange for the following to be submitted to PCS:

As a starting point to prepare for both your nail technician exams you can review the PCS Nail Technology Candidate Handbook.

Nail Technician Theory Examination

Once you have submitted a successful application to PCS it will provide you with an Authorization to Test that you can use to create an account with the testing agency that will administer your theory examination, PSI.

You will be given 90 minutes to complete the theory exam, which is administered entirely on a computer and covers the following topics:

  • Nail technology and service tools
  • Client consultation and documentation protocols
  • Manicuring and pedicuring
  • Client and tool preparation for nail services
  • Procedures for the application, maintenance, and removal of nail enhancement services
  • Chemistry of nail products
  • Infection control and nail service safety practices
  • Nail anatomy and physiology

The Nail Technician Theory Examination is offered through PSI at testing centers in the following cities:

  • Greenville
  • Columbia
  • Charleston
  • Beaufort
  • Myrtle Beach

Nail Technician Practical Examination

The practical examination is offered directly through PCS once per month at a testing center in Columbia. Because you will be demonstrating your performance of the following skills you will need to bring a mannequin hand with you to the exam:

  • Set up and client protection – 10 minutes
  • Manicure – 20 minutes
  • Nail tip application – 20 minutes
  • Nail wrap – 20 minutes
  • Sculptured nail – 20 minutes
  • Application of nail polish – 10 minutes
  • Cleanup and disinfection



Step 3. Obtain Your Nail Technician License from the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology

Once you have completed both the theory and practical exams PCS will forward your results to the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology within 10 days. The Board will then begin processing your license, a procedure that can take up to 30 business days.

Out-of-State Nail Technicians

If you are already a licensed nail technician in a different state you can be eligible for licensure if your home state’s manicurist license requirements are similar to the nail technician license requirements in South Carolina. In this case you can apply directly with the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology with either an online or paper application.

To be eligible for a nail technician license through reciprocity you must have already passed a theory and practical exam as well as completed a manicurist school that is at least 300 hours in length.



Step 4. Begin Your New Nail Technician Career in South Carolina

With your fresh nail technician license in hand you can start working at any establishment in South Carolina. You can find manicurist jobs virtually anywhere people want their nails to look pretty. Some of the best professionals in this field are found working at South Carolina’s chicest establishments including:

You will need to earn at least 12 hours of continuing education every year to keep your manicurist license current, though your license only needs to be renewed every two years. Your annual continuing education needs to include at least three hours pertaining to sanitation, health, and client safety, while the remaining hours should relate to bettering yourself as a professional nail technician.

As you advance in your career you will also have the opportunity to rent or lease a space in a salon or nail studio where you can set up your own practice. To do this you will simply need to fill out a Booth Renter Application. Having this privilege will allow you to work as an independent business owner in cooperation with the salon owner who is renting you space. If you want to go to the next level, you may even consider opening up your own nail studio or day spa.

As you prepare to embark on this career pathway you can find more information about education and nail technician jobs with organizations like the South Carolina Professional Barber and Cosmetology Association.

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