Being a manicurist isn’t all about pampering. Especially in Northern climates like South Dakota, it can also be about care and health. If helping clients maintaining great looking nails, and healthy skin on hands and feet that go through a lot, life as a manicurist or nail technician might be right for you. There are plenty of schools in South Dakota to help you get your license, and plenty of opportunities when you’re ready to enter the workforce.

Sylvan Lake, South Dakota
Sylvan Lake, SD

Education Hours

To start on your journey to being a licensed nail tech, the South Dakota board requires that you complete a course of at least 400 hours.

Studying at a licensed beauty school or as part of a wider cosmetology course offers the opportunity to get valuable hands-on knowledge in a no-pressure environment, which makes it easier to build up your skills in manicure techniques, electric file use, and various nail types, including gels and synthetics.

Theoretical courses in physiology and chemistry can also help you further your knowledge and advance your skills.


South Dakota administers the NIC exams for all nail technicians. There are three exams in total. The written and practical exams are followed by the South Dakota Laws Rules and Regulations, which covers all laws pertaining to manicurists and salon owners. You must pass each exam with a 75% or higher in order to be eligible for licensure.


If you currently have an out-of-state license, you may be eligible to work as a manicurist in South Dakota. To apply for reciprocity you must fill out a Reciprocity Application with the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission.

You must have your home state’s board mail proof of your licensure. You must also provide proof that your home state’s licensing requirements equal the requirements set by South Dakota. If your home state requires less than 400 hours in education, you can substitute experience hours for educational hours at a rate of 2:1 up to 100 hours.


In South Dakota, you must renew your license every year by your birthday. You must renew your license by returning the renewal form located at the bottom of your license by this time each year.

No continuing education hours are required to maintain a nail technician license, but if you put in the extra hours to become an instructor, you will be required to log 12 continuing education credits per year.


South Dakota’s salons and esthetics industry is experiencing a boom. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for work at local salons, spas, and even department stores.

If you’re looking for more freedom, obtaining a Salon/Booth permit will help you get more flexibility, by allowing you to open up your own shop, or set up a chair or booth in an established nail or beauty salon. It may take a while to build up your client base and the capital to run your own shop. But is a great place to start when you’re looking for work in your field.

There’s a ton of different supplies you’ll need — including tools, equipment, and supplies — in order to do your nail training. If interested find how to train online; it is an option.

Desaree & Company School of Beauty – Sturgis

Headlines Academy of Cosmetology – Rapid City

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