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This Isn't Paint by Numbers

October 10, 2002|Leslee Komaiko

Becoming a manicurist requires more than a steady hand. We asked Rick Lopes, an information officer with the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Barbering and Cosmetology to give us the lowdown on what it takes to earn a license.

According to the Nails Fact Book 2001-2002, a special edition of Nails magazine published annually, the national average salary for a full-time manicurist is $23,306. However, in the Western region (which includes California), it is significantly higher: $33,024. That's a lot of top coat.

The candidate must be 17 years or older and have completed the 10th grade in California public schools or their equivalent. Also required are 400 hours of study in the field at a school with an approved curriculum. Alternatively , those who have practiced in the profession outside of California must prove they have worked the equivalent number of hours and achieved similar competency.

The candidate must pass an examination of 100 multiple-choice questions on matters ranging from bacteriology to hazardous substances, as well as a practical component. For the latter, the candidate brings in a live model and performs various procedures on them. This can be anything from acrylic nails to nail wraps. (Incidentally, the pass rate for the state's 2001-2002 fiscal year was 64%.)

The cost of initial license is $35. Every two years, the license must be renewed at a cost of $40.

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