From salons in the trendy neighborhoods of Sioux Falls to resort spas in the Black Hills, your duty as a nail technician in South Dakota will be to build trust with your clients while applying your creative skills to the art and science of nail care.
South Dakota’s manicurists enjoy some of the highest average salaries for this field in the nation – and that doesn’t even include tips.
To work as a nail technician in South Dakota, you’ll need to qualify for a license through the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission. Follow these steps to learn how:
|Complete Nail Technician Education and Training Requirements|
|Pass South Dakota’s Required Nail Technician Examinations|
|Obtain Your Nail Technician License|
|Start Working as a Professional Nail Technician in South Dakota|
Step 1. Complete Nail Technician Education and Training Requirements
As you set out to get the training you need to become a nail technician in South Dakota, you can choose between two methods:
- Graduate from one of South Dakota’s nail technician schools
- Complete an apprenticeship from at a licensed nail facility
To qualify for a manicurist license in South Dakota, you must be at least 18 years of age and have completed high school or an equivalent program.
Manicurist Schools in South Dakota
To complete the manicurist school requirement you will need to study in a program that includes at least 400 hours of nail technician courses. These will cover subjects including:
- Safety and sanitation
- Nail study
- Nail diseases and disorders
- Nail applications and products
- Electric files
There are six approved schools in South Dakota where you can take the required manicurist courses to be eligible for licensure. These are located in:
- Sioux Falls
- Rapid City
You can also choose to complete your education through an apprenticeship at a licensed nail facility that is approved to accept apprentices. Apprentice programs are full-time commitments of 40 hours per week and take approximately six months to complete. In total an apprentice program must include at least 960 hours of curriculum, and before you will be allowed to perform services for clients you will need to complete at least 60 hours of classroom theory. The apprenticeship will cover the same subjects as a traditional nail technician school.
To get an apprenticeship started you will need to submit a completed Apprentice Application to the South Dakota State Board of Cosmetology in Pierre.
Step 2. Pass South Dakota’s Required Nail Technician Examinations
Once you complete your manicurist education you can move on to complete the three exams you must pass to be eligible for a nail technician license in South Dakota:
- National (NIC) Nail Technician/Manicurist Theory Examination.
- National (NIC) Nail Technician/Manicurist Practical Examination
- South Dakota State Laws and Rules Examination
You can register for these exams by submitting an Application for Examination to the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission. Included in this is an application for a temporary nail technician license that you can also complete if you would like to work as a manicurist while you wait to take your exams and receive your test scores.
All exams may be taken in the following cities, subject to the schedule of the Cosmetology Commission:
- Sioux Falls
- Rapid City
You can prepare for these by consulting the South Dakota Candidate Information Bulletin. NIC refers to the National-Interstate Council of Cosmetology Boards, the agency that created these exams which are administered by the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission.
National (NIC) Nail Technician/Manicurist Theory Examination
This examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions on the theory of nail technology. You will have 90 minutes to complete this exam, which covers topics such as:
- Infection control and safety procedures
- Nail anatomy and physiology
- Chemistry of nail products
- Nail technology procedures
- Client documentation and consultation
- Nail service tools and preparation
- Manicure and pedicure service
- Application, maintenance, and removal procedures for nail enhancements
- Post-service clean up and disinfection procedures
National (NIC) Nail Technician/Manicurist Practical Examination
For your practical examination you will be demonstrating a series of procedures on a mannequin hand that you supply in front of an evaluator. This hand must not have digital fingers, such as those found on trainer hands, and must have a set of unpolished nails applied prior to starting your practical exam. You will be demonstrating the following:
- Client protection and set up – 10 minutes
- Manicure – 20 minutes
- Nail tip application – 20 minutes
- Nail wrap – 20 minutes
- Sculptured nail – 20 minutes
- Administration of nail polish – 10 minutes
- Clean up and disinfection
South Dakota State Laws and Rules Examination
This is a written examination consisting of 25 multiple-choice questions regarding the South Dakota laws and rules that pertain to licensing and working as a nail technician in the field of cosmetology. To prepare for this exam you can review the following:
Once you are approved to take this exam you will also be sent additional study information.
Step 3. Obtain Your Nail Technician License
Once you have completed the education and testing requirements up to this point you will have met all nail technician license requirements in South Dakota. Between two and three weeks after you take your exams you will receive your scores in the mail, and if they are passing scores you will also receive your new license.
Out-of-State Nail Technicians
If you are already a licensed nail technician in another state you will need to show that you have met standards that are equivalent to manicurist license requirements in South Dakota. You can demonstrate this on your Reciprocity Application with the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission by arranging for the following:
- Have your home state’s board of cosmetology mail proof of your licensure to the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission
- Have your home state’s board of cosmetology submit proof that you have completed a nail technician education program that is at least 400 hours in length – you are permitted to substitute two hours of work experience for one hour of education up to a maximum of 100 hours of education by submitting an Affidavit of Employment
You can apply for a temporary license while you wait to complete any outstanding exams, such as the South Dakota Laws and Rules Examination. Your reciprocity application will include a section to register for these remaining examinations.
Step 4. Start Working as a Professional Nail Technician in South Dakota
Starting out you will need to dazzle prospective employers with a portfolio of your best work and a repertoire of references. As you gain more experience and exposure you will develop a client base who will follow you as you advance to ever-more posh nail salons or day spas. As you become an expert in nails you may want to expand beyond the traditional manicurist job description and create the next big trend.
Obtaining a Salon/Booth Permit will allow you to work for yourself and establish your own rules as you rent a space that is entirely your own at an existing nail spa or salon.
If a salon permit doesn’t allow you enough freedom then the only option left is to open up your own nail studio or day spa. Even though this step may seem like a long ways off, just remember that the owners of South Dakota’s best nail facilities all started off in your shoes and are now operating businesses of their own:
- Envy Nails and Spa in Sioux Falls
- Radiance Day Spa in Sioux Falls
- Rejuvenations Serenity Spa in Pierre
Your license expires every year on your birthday. You can renew this by returning the renewal form located at the bottom of your license to the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission.