Nail Tech Salary 2023: How Much Do They Really Make?

As an aspiring nail technician, you may be pondering the question of how much you can make by pursuing your passion for beautiful nail art. You’ll be pleased to know that your nail tech skills can take you well beyond “hobby” status, earning you a six-figure income and beyond.

With the right systems and processes in place, you can be well on your way to turning your passions into profits. In this article, we’ll dive into the average nail tech salaries, typical costs involved with being a nail tech, and tips on maximizing your profits as a nail tech operating your own salon.

How Much Do Nail Techs Make?

Nail technician salaries can vary widely depending on the type of salon where you operate, its location, and the size of your clientele. Other factors such as whether you operate independently or have your own salon will also impact your salary. Below are some of the common income scenarios you can expect to encounter as a nail technician.

  • Most nail salon owners make an average salary between $40,000 and $75,000 per year, with the average being $58,000 per year.
  • Some salons pay nail techs an hourly rate plus gratuity, a percentage of the service cost, and commission on retail sales. With this payment model, a nail tech’s salary might vary from week to week, depending on how many clients they have.
  • Other nail techs say they might work eight or nine hours a day and average $35 per hour, making anywhere from $80 to $120 on a slow day to $350 on a busy day. Slow seasons, cancellations, and the speed of service all impact the pay.
  • Nail techs with specialized expertise — say, in gel nails — can earn $800 to $1,200 per week or more.

One of the biggest factors to consider if you plan to open your own salon is the overhead costs. Whereas a nail tech keeps what they earn and simply pays taxes and other expenses, salon owners must think about other costs like rent, equipment, payroll, janitorial services, and supplies.

Some nail techs start out in a salon and gain experience and knowledge before branching out on their own, which can be a great way to learn the ropes and build loyal clientele before diving into salon ownership.

Whether you’re an independent nail tech or an aspiring salon owner, using a salon software system like GlossGenius can help you build your client base, market your services, keep track of your income and expenses, and scale your business with ease.

Top Factors to Consider When Opening a Nail Salon

Plush chairs and glossy polish are not the only items you’ll need to open a nail salon. You have a number of essential factors to consider before swinging open your nail salon doors:

  • Location. Choose an area with foot traffic to encourage walk-in business and high visibility. Ideally, locate the business in an area where the demographic tends to indulge in nail services and has some disposable income. You’ll also need ample parking near the salon so customers can easily get in and out without smudging their freshly painted nails.
  • Licenses and permits. In addition to the required nail tech licensure, you’ll need business licenses and permits. Check with your city to find out what’s needed, and make sure your desired location is zoned for nail salon services. If possible, choose a location where a previous salon existed; this will make it easier to get up and running and even tap into the previous salon’s clientele.
  • Insurance. Work with a local insurance broker with experience in your industry to be sure you have all required insurance coverage, including general liability, workers’ compensation, and any additional coverages you may need.
  • Staff. Create job postings on Indeed, LinkedIn, social media, and other platforms. Ask for referrals from industry professionals. Hire enough staff to handle your day-to-day needs, peak hours, and walk-ins.
  • Booking software. With a platform like GlossGenius, you can manage all of our clients in one dashboard, market to them on a regular basis, manage inventory, and grow your business with marketing tools and a beautiful website.

Keep in mind that every city and municipality has its own rules and regulations concerning new businesses. Check with your city to find out if they have a similar checklist and other resources to help you get up and running on the right perfectly pedicured foot.

How Profitable Is a Nail Salon?

Although the pandemic impacted the profitability of nail salons, they are steadily making a comeback. The market size of beauty salons (including hair, skin, and nails) is expected to reach nearly $67.4 billion in 2023, up from $58.5 billion in 2020, according to Statista.

To ensure healthy profit margins as a nail salon owner, make sure you have a business plan that spells out your business goals and includes a marketing plan to help you achieve them. Here are three areas to focus on:

  1. A salon website. A beautiful, user-friendly website and mobile app with online booking capabilities will help you drive more business and create a delightful customer experience.
  2. Social media marketing. Even if you can’t or don’t want to run social media ads right away, it’s important to post organically and engage with your followers. As you gain new clients, you can showcase your work on social media, encouraging new bookings and referrals.
  3. Salon software. Easy communications with clients, payment processing, bookings, reminders, and notifications are vital for a salon to run smoothly. With salon software with GlossGenius, you can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time nurturing client relationships.

With the above three elements in place, you’ll be able to more easily build your customer base. The more you upgrade the client experience, create a welcoming environment for guests, and streamline bookings, the more profitable you will become.

Top Components to Look For in Salon Software

When you're a nail salon owner, choosing the right salon software is essential to streamline your operations, enhance customer experience, and grow your business. GlossGenius, priced at just $24 a month, offers an array of essential features that make it a valuable asset for nail tech professionals. It also includes extras like a custom card reader, a website, and more.

Here are the top components to look for in salon software as a nail salon owner:

  • Automated client reminders: GlossGenius understands the importance of making sure clients keep their appointments. With automated client reminders, you can reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations, ensuring a more consistent and predictable schedule.
  • Copying over prior bookings: Time is money in the beauty industry. The less time you need to spend on administrative tasks, the more time you have for revenue-generating activities. GlossGenius allows you to easily duplicate previous bookings, saving you time and effort when scheduling repeat clients.
  • Email and text marketing: GlossGenius includes email and text marketing features, helping you engage with your clients, announce promotions, recognize birthdays and anniversaries, and build customer loyalty through personalized communication.
  • Custom-designed website: GlossGenius offers a custom-designed website option, making it easier for potential clients to find you and book appointments online. A professional website can enhance your salon's credibility and visibility.
  • Unlimited employee accounts: If you have a team of nail techs, having unlimited employee accounts is a must. This feature ensures that each team member can manage their schedule and clients efficiently within the same software.
  • Low payment processing fee: GlossGenius offers payment processing fees at an industry-low 2.6%. The savings can add up and significantly reduce your overhead costs, allowing you to keep more of your hard-earned revenue.
  • Inventory management: If your salon sells products, GlossGenius can help you keep track of your inventory, ensuring you never run out of essential nail care products.
  • Client management: From the first impression to repeat bookings, every client interaction counts when you’re building a nail salon. GlossGenius’ client experience management solution helps you build and maintain strong relationships.

What Are the Costs to Open a Nail Salon?

Startup costs vary, depending on whether you’re opening a new salon or setting up shop in an existing salon. Rebranding starts at $62,000, while new salons start at $90,000. Below are some typical expenses you can expect to incur for either a new or rebranded location.

Existing Salon 

  • Rent deposit: $4,500
  • Buyout of current salon: $10,500
  • Leasehold improvements: $15,000
  • Equipment: $10,000
  • Initial supplies: $8,000
  • Initial inventory: $4,000
  • Certifications and licenses: $4,000
  • Marketing: $5,000
  • Legal or consulting fees: $1,000

Grand total: $62,000

New Salon

  • Rent deposit: $4,500
  • Buyout of current salon: $0
  • Leasehold improvements: $35,000
  • Equipment: $25,000
  • Initial supplies: $8,000
  • Initial inventory: $4,000
  • Certifications and licenses: $4,000
  • Marketing: $8,000
  • Legal or consulting fees: $1,000

Grand total: $89,500

Salon loans, financing, insurance, staffing, and POS software may increase your startup costs further. Be sure to account for all of your costs as you create a salon business plan.

What Factors Affect Your Nail Tech Income?

Various factors will impact your nail tech income, and it’s essential to consider all angles before you get up and running. One of the key factors is the type of salon and services you offer. For instance, a salon offering luxury nail services like sugar scrubs and paraffin wraps might earn more than a salon offering basic manicures and pedicures.

Your nail salon’s size will also affect your income. A small salon with limited space obviously can’t hold as many clients as a large salon, reducing income potential. However, you can always offer higher-end services to earn more per client.

Of course, if you really want to up your per-client profits, you can always try offering a wildly expensive mani-pedi, like the million-dollar Azature White Diamond Polish. Who are we to stop you?

Start Your Salon Business With GlossGenius

Starting a nail salon or diving into a full-time cosmetology career as a licensed nail technician is both exhilarating and promising. The potential hourly wage, coupled with the freedom of being self-employed, paints a picture of the opportunities ahead. As an average nail technician or an esthetician, knowing your potential earnings might be the spark that propels you to craft a meticulous business plan and commence your venture with vigor.

Arming yourself with detailed planning, understanding the dynamics of the industry, and equipping your business with the ideal salon software can pave the way for immense success. GlossGenius offers an all-in-one platform uniquely suited for ambitious nail tech salon owners, blending affordability with a spectrum of features that promise to boost profitability in the dynamic world of cosmetology.

Follow Us

Run your business the smart and stylish way with GlossGenius.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required.