licensed nail tech close up

Do I Need a License or Certification to Be a Nail Tech in California?

The nail industry's popularity has exploded in recent years. If you're considering a career as a nail technician in the Golden State, you might be wondering whether you need a license or certification to pursue this career path. In this blog, we'll explore the requirements, benefits, and considerations surrounding licensing and certification for nail technicians in California.

Do I  really need a license?

In California, becoming a licensed nail technician (manicurist) is a legal requirement to practice professionally. The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) oversees the licensing process for nail technicians, as well as other beauty professionals (such as cosmetologists and estheticians). We've written more about the process here - How to Become a Licensed Nail Tech. As a side note, licensed cosmetologists are also able to work professionally with nails - their license also includes hair and skincare.

Certification vs. Licensing

It's essential to differentiate between licensing and certification in the context of becoming a nail technician. Licensing, as discussed above, is a legal requirement to work as a nail tech in California. Certification, on the other hand, is optional and can provide additional training in specific areas of nail care. Certification programs are typically offered by private organizations, manufacturers, or individuals and can cover specific or advanced techniques. While certification is not mandatory for practicing as a nail technician in California, it can be a valuable way to distinguish yourself in a competitive job market and expand your skill set. At Beyond


In California, becoming a nail technician requires obtaining a license from the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. While certifications can be valuable, they aren't officially recognized by the State Board. Aspiring nail techs should prioritize fulfilling the licensing requirements to ensure they are legally allowed to practice their profession. Whether you aim to work in a salon or establish your own nail business, understanding the difference between licensing and certification is necessary to ensure compliance.

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