Nail Technician or Manicurist?

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Is a nail techician the same as a manicurist? Most people have heard of a manicurist or had a manicure. Maybe they have had a pedicure too. They know instantly that the women who give these (and they are usually women) beautify finger or toe nails, but is that all? What, if any, are the differences between nail technicians and manicurists?


Manicures are performed on people’s hands, both men and women. In most cases, people imagine the manicurist applying nail polish, gel, or nail extensions to fingernails. There is more to the job, though. A manicurist must first
  • prepare the nails, perhaps soaking fingers and getting rid of cuticles
  • file nails
  • shape nails
For men’s hands, they are usually asked to create a healthy look since not many men are looking for acrylic nail art. For female clients, manicurists sometimes create an artistic finish that is worthy of wedding photos. In fact, it is typical for someone to arrange for this service before a special occasion, or to give a gift certificate for a manicure as a gift.


A nail techician is interested in the nails of the fingers and toes. She has a variety of jobs, including
  • giving manicures
  • providing pedicures
  • offering skin treatments around fingers and toes
  • providing skin treatments for feet and hands
She helps people to enjoy healthier looking nails and skin, not just prettier feet and hands. Technicians do polish toe and finger nails and create nail art using a variety of materials including acrylics and fiberglass, which some specialized manicurists will also provide.

The Difference

Many people see no difference between these two roles. They are spoken of interchangeably. Colleges will often refer to them in the same breath. Still, certain institutions keep the two jobs separate, and evidence suggests that a nail techician is a more skilled person. Her classes cost more money than those for manicurists wherever their roles are kept separate.

Nail technology also has a more high-end sound than manicurist, although the two people could be doing the same job. This is like the difference between going to a hair dresser or a salon; a shop or a boutique. Most of the time there is very little difference between the two. Both people get a lot of their work via word of mouth. Many are hired to work in salons or beautician’s shops, while others advertise mobile services.

If someone wanted to imply that they offered more services just by giving herself one of these titles, however, she would refer to herself as a technician. In both cases, it is best to seek the skills of a licensed, trained individual who has gone to school to learn her trade.

Jill Zanders is a writer with a passion for fashion and beauty. From the runway to the beauty salon, Jill enjoys all the various facets associated with style.


  1. The laws where the author is from may differ, but here in California, mobile beauty services are not allowed, except by special license. Also, the specialized training for nail care is the same, whether the licensee calls themself a manicurist or nail tech.

  2. I've only heard of them being the same, all falling under the title "nail technician." Shouldn't any nail tech or manicurist be trained in the same skills, techniques and knowledge? Is this like the debate between "stewardess" and "flight attendant?"

  3. Hi and thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree that nail tech and manicurists are really the same and should be trained the same. They are one in the same here in California. You have to learn everything from manicures/pedicures, to application of artificial nails. There is only one course offered and one license offered in the State of CA.