Nail Technician School and License Requirements in Florida

Florida’s tourism industry is as vibrant as ever. In 2013, a total of 94.7 million visitors traveled to Florida, beating 2012’s record season of 91.5 million visitors. It comes as little surprise that the dynamic nail salon industry in Florida is supported in part by the many tourists who make their way to this Southern state to relax in the sunshine and enjoy everything from nail wraps to pedicures.

The steps needed to become a registered nail specialist in Florida include:

How to become a licensed nail tech in floridaComplete an Approved Nail Specialty Program
How to become a licensed nail tech in floridaApply for Registration as a Nail Specialist
How to become a licensed nail tech in floridaMaintain your Registration as a Nail Specialist in Florida
How to become a licensed nail tech in floridaConsider your Career Options as a Registered Nail Specialist

If you want to become a nail technician in Florida, you must achieve specialty registration as a nail specialist through the Florida Board of Cosmetology, which is part of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Registered nail specialists in Florida are permitted to engage in manicuring and pedicuring, which includes:

  • Cutting, tinting, polishing, coloring, extending, and cleansing the nails
  • Massaging the hands

Step 1. Complete an Approved Nail Specialty Program

To become a registered nail specialist in Florida, you must first complete a nail specialty program through a Florida school of cosmetology. An approved nail specialist program consists of at least 240 hours of education.

The minimum curriculum for nail specialty training in Florida includes the following:

  • Florida cosmetology laws and rules: 5 hours
  • HIV/AIDS: 4 hours
  • Sanitation: 4 hours
  • Ethics: 2 hours
  • Nail theory, practice, and related subjects, including nail disorders and diseases: 85 hours

A nail specialist program curriculum must also include training/study in the following services:

  • Manicures: 20 hours
  • Pedicures: 10 hours
  • Tips with overlay: 37.5 hours
  • Nail wraps/mending: 15 hours
  • Nail fill-ins: 10 hours
  • Artificial nail removal: 5 hours
  • Polishing and nail art: 5 hours

Once you have successfully completed all educational requirements, the school will issue you a certificate of completion, provided you have achieved a score of 75 percent or better on a final examination.

Step 2. Apply for Registration as a Nail Specialist

Upon the successful completion of all required hours in a nail specialist program, you must complete and submit an Application for Initial License Based on Florida Education to the Department or apply online through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation online services portal. Because you are applying for a nail specialist registration based on Florida education, you must complete Sections, I, II, IV, and VI.

You must also submit a payment of $85 (made payable to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation). The application, payment, and related documentation must be mailed to:

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Department of Business and Professional Regulation
1940 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783

If you have any questions regarding the application process, you may contact the Department’s Customer Contact Center at 1-850-487-1395.

Once your application has been approved, you can expect to receive a registration from the Department. While you are awaiting the issuance of your registration, you may practice as a nail specialist under the supervision of a registered nail specialist in a licensed specialty or cosmetology salon.

Step 3. Maintain your Registration as a Nail Specialist in Florida

To maintain your nail specialist registration in Florida, you must renew it biennially through the Department’s online portal and pay the renewal fee of $55. You must first activate a personal account through

All nail specialists in Florida must complete at least 16 hours of Board-approved continuing education credits during each renewal period. You can find a list of approved continuing education providers and their courses here. The Bureau of Education and Testing is responsible for all continuing education providers and courses.

Step 4. Consider your Career Options as a Registered Nail Specialist

As a registered nail specialist in Florida, you have a number of excellent career options, including working as an employee of a nail salon, spa, or full-service salon; working as an independent contractor and renting salon space; working as a mobile nail technician; or even owning your own nail salon.

As part of your continuing education requirements, you may choose to take courses in areas such as management, business administration, and marketing if you have aspirations of managing or owning your own nail salon one day.

You may also work toward achieving registration in another cosmetology specialty in Florida, such as facials and body wrapping, or even pursue a full cosmetologist license.

There is a multitude of luxury resorts in Florida that offer high-end personal care services, including nails:

  • Acqualina Resort & Spa, Miami
  • Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables
  • Boca Beach Club, Boca Raton
  • Elizabeth Point Lodge, Amelia Island
  • Four Seasons Resort, Palm Beach
  • LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort, Naples
  • Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Palm Island
  • Longboat Key Club and Resort, Longboat Key
  • Marco Island Marriot Beach Resort, Marco Island
  • Ocean Key Resort & Spa, Key West

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— Update: 24-03-2023 — found an additional article How to Get Your Florida Nail Specialist License from the website for the keyword how to become a licensed nail tech in florida.

How to become a licensed nail tech in florida

There are very few things people like more than a really good pedicure.

Because that pedicure is followed with a pair of flip flops and getting that perfect picture of their toes in the sand. You know the ones that I am talking about. Legs stretched out while sitting on the beach or by the pool by someone on vacation while we are all at work.

Nail specialists make that Instagram or Facebook post happen.

In order to provide those jealousy-invoking services, you need a nail specialist license in Florida. Whether you are already licensed as a nail tech in another state and moving to Florida, or just thinking about finding a nail specialist program, let’s get started on answering some common questions.

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What is a nail specialist?

In other areas of the country, nail specialists may be licensed or referred to as manicurists, pedicurists, or nail technicians. In Florida, we call them nail specialists.

Nail specialist registrations are issued by the Florida Board of Cosmetology.

You may even see a few nail specialists refer to themselves as “full specialists”. A full specialist is licensed as a facial specialist (esthetician) and a nail specialist.

What is the Nail Specialist Training Requirement?

A nail specialist must complete a minimum of 180 hours of training. This means nail specialists can complete training and begin work in just a few short months! This is one of the first benefits of this trade.

Where to Find a Nail Specialist Training Program?

Nail specialist programs are frequently offered in cosmetology schools throughout Florida. If you need some advice on choosing one of the many nail or cosmetology schools in Florida, start here.

Training in Vietnamese?
It is no secret that Vietnamese-Americans have excelled in the nail industry. Nail Mag says that 53% of nail technicians in the United States are Vietnamese. I am not aware of any specific programs in Florida that are primarily in Tieng Viet. If you know of one, let me know.

What Services Can a Nail Specialist Provide?

Here are a few of the most popular services a nail specialist, or full specialist, may offer. While the number of services a nail specialist is not as numerous as a facial specialist, nail specialist can keep plenty busy with these signature services.

  1. Manicures

  2. A manicure can be a simple file and polish, or it can be complex with dozens of steps. Services may include removal of artificial nails, nail fill-ins and repairs, nail wraps, sculpting, tips with an overlay, or gels and shellacs.

  3. Pedicures

  4. If you have been in a specialty nail salon, you will notice that pedicure chairs take up a majority of the space. That is because pedicures make up a majority of nail services. Flip flops are a 365-day thing in Florida, so nail services never go out of style. Nail specialists spend a majority of their day with clients seeking custom nail art, self-care, mother-daughter days, and just an increase in both men and women seeking regular pedicures and foot care.

Where Does a Nail Specialists Work?

According to Florida law and rules, nail services must be performed in a licensed salon. Estimates say there are about 33,999 nail specialists in Florida.

If you have dreams of opening your own specialty Florida salon, here is more advice about how to make that happen.

What is a Nail Specialist Salary?

First of all, the nail industry in 2018 was good for about 8.53 billion dollars according to NailsMag!

The salary for pedicurists and manicurists around $25,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure does not include tips or account for the differences in salons and healthcare environments. They also project job growth to be faster than average at 13%. NailsMag has average weekly service income at $653 a week.

Want to be more versatile or combine your education with other programs? There are so many options that you can add to your skillset. Here are a few examples.

Corresponding Careers

Many nail specialists go on to complete additional programs within the school where they complete a nail specialist training. Yes, this takes additional time, but it also allows you to be versatile in a salon. Here are a few options to think about.

Full Specialist

A full specialist is required to complete a 400-hour program. 180 hours of that is the nail program and 220 is the facial specialist training. If you feel like you may want to offer facials, peels, skincare education, makeup application, waxing, or eyebrow threading, I strongly suggest you consider a full specialist training program.


This license requires 1200 hours of training. However, cosmetologists can perform all hair, nail, and skincare services. They are also required to complete a state cosmetology exam before obtaining a license.

Tattoo Artist

Microblading and permanent make-up are very popular right now. To offer these services, you actually are required to have a tattoo license. Getting licensed as a tattoo artist may be easier than you might think. An approved course on bloodborne pathogens in the tattoo industry and application to the Florida Department of Health are the main requirements. A Tattoo establishment license, including an inspection, is also required.

Visit this page for more information on tattoo license requirements.


Electrologists use lasers to permanently remove hair. Licensees must complete a 320-hour electrolysis training at a Florida approved electrology school. They must also sit for an examination before obtaining a license. Here is more information on electrolysis licensing.

Massage Therapist

A nail specialist can only massage the arms to the elbows and legs from the feet to the knees. If you want to do more than that, you will need a massage therapy license. A massage therapy license requires completion of an additional 500 hours and passing the MBLEx exam. For more about getting a Florida massage license, visit

Getting Started

Whether you plan to own your own salon or have a job waiting with a family friend, a nail specialist career is exciting. If you are looking for a career with independence, flexibility, and allows you to express your creative talent – it is time to take the next steps towards finding the right school to complete your training. I wish you the best!

Are You a Nail Technician Moving to Florida?

If you are a nail technician in another state and moving to Florida and already have completed your training, here is a board-approved 4-hour HIV/AIDS course you need to obtain your nail or full specialist license.

Looking for Information on How to Renew Your Florida Nail Specialist License?

Not a problem! For 2020, the renewal requirements were dropped from 16 hours to 10 hours. And there are no renewal fees this year!
You can find our board approved renewal course for 2020 right here: Florida Nail Specialist Continuing Education (2020).


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About the Author: Tung Chi