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What Is Needed to Become a Nail Technician in Illinois?

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With the seemingly millions of colors of small pots of nail polish lining the walls in drugstores, it may seem like almost anyone can be a DIY nail technician, but the people performing these jobs are held to strict statewide regulations. Nail technicians study state-approved programs about hygiene, safety, nail techniques and color designs to earn their spots at the tables. In Illinois, prospective manicurists are held to stringent educational and testing requirements.


Illinois requires nail technicians to be a minimum of 16. Applicants must complete high school or be older than the age of compulsory school attendance, according to the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. Cosmetology schools may have varying admission requirements, such as age restrictions or prior work experience.


All nail technicians require a license to practice in Illinois, and to earn a license, technicians must enroll in 350 or more course hours at a state-approved cosmetology school, with up to two years to complete the studies. Illinois offers more than 30 approved schools, including Tricoci University of Beauty Culture in Rockford, Ms. Roberts Academy of Beauty Culture in Villa Park, Educators of Beauty in Sterling, The Salon Professional Academy in Elgin, Alvareita’s College of Cosmetology in Godfrey and La’James International College in East Moline.


The training required for Illinois nail technicians prepares them for the state’s required examination, which leads to licensing. Candidates must attain a score of at least 75 to pass the exam. Applicants may retake the exam an unlimited number of times, but after the third retake, will be required to complete a 60-hour refresher course.


Prospective nail technicians in Illinois must complete the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation’s licensing application package. The application is comprised of a written test, a fee, a copy of the nail technician’s graduation or school completion form, a copy of photo identification and information on any criminal background.


Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.