The life of a manicurist is full of interesting and diverse clients. If you’re looking for a career that makes it possible to explore your creativity while providing a valuable service to clients, becoming a nail technician could be the answer you are looking for. Study at one of Wisconsin’s fantastic beauty schools or online trainers can lead to your license as a nail technician and a variety of other opportunities.

Memorial Union in Madison, WI
Memorial Union in Madison, WI – photo by Vonbloompasha[CC BY-SA 3.0]


Nail technician courses in Wisconsin are at least 300 hours of study that takes place over at least 7 weeks. You must have at least a high school education to be eligible for a license.

Beauty school can teach you a variety of classes and skills, including bookkeeping and business management, bacteriology, instrument sanitation, and first aid, as well as manicuring and pedicuring techniques, hand massages, and skin treatments of the hands and feet.

Once your formal schooling is completed, you must complete your exams before you can be licensed.

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Along with your exam applications for your written and practical exams, you must pay your licensing fees. You must also provide proof of your age and education, as well as your academic records from your Wisconsin beauty school.

You may apply for a temporary license while waiting to sit your exams. This license lasts six months and cannot be renewed. You must pass both the written and practical exam in that time to be eligible for a full license.

Licensing Out-Of-State

If you are currently licensed and have worked as a nail technician in another state, you may be eligible for reciprocity in Wisconsin, if you can meet the following criteria: first, you must have at least 4,000 hours work experience in your home state or beyond.

You must have passed both your state’s theory and technical exams, and finally, you must have a current active license in good standing. If you meet these conditions, you can pay the reciprocity fee and apply for a Wisconsin license, without taking Wisconsin’s exams or attending another program.

Renew Your License

Your Wisconsin nail tech license needs to be renewed every odd-numbered year. The date of renewal is March 31st. Wisconsin requires at least 4 hours of continuing education to keep your license active. Three hours must be devoted to safety and sanitation, and one hour relating to the laws and rules of cosmetology.

No further continuing education is required, but continually upgrading your skills with trade shows, further makeup courses, and other studies in your field can give you an edge over other nail technicians in your field, and help you offer the best to your clients, both current and prospective.

Wisconsin Nail Technician Schools

The Salon Professional Academy – Eau Claire

The Salon Professional Academy – Onalaska

Academy of Cosmetology – Janesville

Basali Dermal Institute – Wauwatosa

Elite Nail School and Training Center – Madison

Gill-Tech Academy of Hair Design – Appleton

State College of Beauty Culture – Wausau

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College – Fennimore

The Institute of Beauty and Wellness  – Milwaukee

The Salon Professional Academy – Appleton


Wisconsin nail technicians will find themselves in demand in the coming years. Personal care services have been increasing across the state, with the expected increase to mean a 20% jump in hire-ability by 2021 though that number may have been affected by the pandemic.

In a salon environment, you will be handling everything from prom nights to wedding days, to a casual girl’s day at a nail salon. If you’re looking to provide a more specialized service, you can look into obtaining an establishment application, to run your own shop, or even a mobile or at home nail salon. Look online.

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Other WI schools for cosmetologists, estheticians, barbers and makeup artists.

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