About Nail Training, License and Apprenticeships

When considering education for nails you have multiple options but keep in mind a State Issued license is required to sell nail services in the state of Virginia. A one day class or any 100% Online training is only for already licensed techs or free nail services.

Some beauty schools are so big that their main concern is getting the next group of students in for their owner profits, big overheand costs and payroll money- so they rush students out the door with a "certificate" and avoid guiding them to actual licensure before exams change. Students in these situations usually put off licensing exams from not knowing how to register, don't feel ready for exams without more study access or get lost in the exam process from trying to take exams with new content the school did not prepare them for. We stay small to be able to focus on our graduates until they obtain licensure to make sure they actually get licensed. Many students don't see this difference unless they finish a beauty course in different schools. Our school website is a "go to" platform for other businesses because WE KNOW NAIL EDUCATION! 


ALL ONLINE TRAINING: If you see 100% online training then it is not going to help you get a nail license needed to sell nail services in Virginia. There are some businesses creating an all online study course to make quick money but they usually don't tell you that it is just training that does not lead to state licensing hours. Virginia requires training and testing that must be done INSIDE a state licensed/approved school to get a nail license. A 100% online course won't let you take the state exams to get licensed (just like there is no 100% online test to get your driver's license...no matter how long you have been driving unlicensed because you have to go to DMV to take the exam to get a license). 


ONE DAY TRAINING: If you see a single day, multi-day or weekend type of training then it is designed for already licensed techs or training to do FREE nails. Anyone selling nail training outside a state licensed school that tells you that you can earn an income or provide nail services without a license can be reported to the state for violation. These are workshops not classes.  You need a state nail technician license to sell any nail service in Virginia. There are many Techs teaching a one day course to make some extra cash. New nail techniques could be learned through this but be aware that unlicensed techs may be doing things that licensed techs could be sued and violated for (like cutting any living skin around the nail that most people confuse as "cuticle"). If any training is done outside a state licensed school then the hours do not get credit for licensing. Attend these type of classes with an open mind to learn new safe techniques only. These types of "workshops" can be great for advance techniques after you get your license.


Yes unlicensed training could get you to work to make money now but if caught selling nail services without a DPOR license you could be reported or sued to have bigger problems coming. Many salons open without a state salon license only to be shut down by the state or served a cease and desist order. Selling nail services without a license is prosecutable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.


Just get your license to grow in the career with your new found passion and skill to make long term money as a protected business owner. Licensed Techs can also make AMAZING money in high end spas/salons that only do mani/pedis. Licensed Nail Techs in the luxury spa industry could earn on average $300-500 a day without worrying about building a client list, paying for supplies and having the possiblity for benefits like 401K, paid vacation days and health insurance plans. 


  • complete a state licensed vocational, high school or nail school program (DPOR school & instructor licenses must be posted)
  • correctly complete an apprenticeship in a state DOLI registered & DPOR licensed nail salon (see details below)
  • complete a nail course in another state in the United States that is equivalent to the Virginia program (at least 80% of Virginia's required hours)
  • reinstating a expired nail license in Virginia
  • transfer another state Nail Technician or Manicurist license into Virginia (contact DPOR for instructions)

Licensing Rules

Credit hours to get a Nail Technician license can only be given by a state licensed instructor when the training is done inside of a state licensed school with a state approved course for training. Both the school and instructor licenses must be posted for the public to view at all times (to avoid reportable DPOR violations for unlicensed training advertised as leading to licensure). If you can not find a school (with a school and a instructor license posted) then the "school" then is in violation when offering state licensed training for licensing (students will not be valid to sit for the state exams to get licensed). 


Clients have a right to see licenses to ensure that they are getting state approved training and safe services. If you can not find the license they are in violation, it must be posted in an easy to find area. Businesses must have several licenses posted based on what they are selling:

  • Nail Technicians (nails)
  • Cosmetologists (hair, waxing, nails, lashes & light facials)
  • Estheticians (lashes, skin care and waxing)
  • Barbers (hair care and shaving)
  • Wax Technicians (waxing)
  • Instructors (must state the type of training they are approved to teach)
  • Beauty Schools (must state their type of training: barber, tattoing, wax, nail, cosmetology or esthetics)
  • Tattoo make up artists (facial tattoing)
  • Salons (cosmetology salon, barber shop, nail salon, or esthetics spa)
  • Tattoo artists (tattooing)

If you can't find the license near the entry, service desk or reception area, then they are in violation for not posting the license. The second violation is not being licensed for EACH person and business type of service sold. This can be reported to DPOR

Nail Salon Consumer Guide.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [170.9 KB]

Salon Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is a great way to learn and earn part of the requirements to be able to take the state exam for licensing without having to pay for nail school. BUT be cautious of salons just looking for workers, not future competition. LIcensed Salons can call the DOLI office representative for your county (listed below) in order to make your DPOR licensed salon a apprenticeship salon. Salons can apprentice 'ONE person-per licensed Tech' in the salon for one year. After or during their apprentice the apprentice must also pass a written course in a state licensed school to sit for the state exams to get their license. 


How can I get a nail license if I become an apprentice?

If you find a state licensed salon that is registered with the state to offer apprenticeship then you can work in that salon for NO LESS than one year under the supervision of a licensed Nail Tech or Cosmetologist to earn the minimum 2,000 apprentice hours required to complete half of the requirements needed to sit for the state exam to get licensed. To find a salon that is registered or to check if the salon is registered that you want to apprentice at look for the city/county office number below.


How can I become an apprentice?

Find a registered salon with DOLI that is registered with the state to be approved to become a apprentice in their licensed salon. The salon will let their city/county's representative know that you are approved to be a apprentice in their salon. The state representative will talk or visit the salon to see the State Photo ID and Social Security card information of the approved apprentice. At that point they can start selling nail care services under the supervision of the licensed nail tech in the salon that is sponsoring them.  If you did not speak to a state representative and show your ID's then your apprentice hours/time has not started. Contact your salon's city/county office if you feel like you are being scammed. Numbers are listed below.  If you are working in a salon ask them to REGISTER with DOLI to become an apprentice salon at https://www.doli.virginia.gov/employer/


How much does it cost to be an apprentice?

After approved, apprentices DO NOT pay any fee to learn. Report salons charging a fee to apprentice to the DOLI office for the city/county that the salon is located in (see numbers below). Students can be required to pay for uniforms, books and supplies they own to use. The business MUST pay the apprentice the Virginia minimum wage of at least $12 for every hour that they are present in the salon. If the apprentice is paid commission it must be at (or it can be higher) than the hourly salary. If a Virginia apprentice is not paid at least $12 for every hour they are in the salon then the apprentice should report that to the office number listed below for the county/city the salon is located in. Apprentice salary is paid as a W2 employee, not a 1099 contractor.

Being paid 1099 means that the employer is not paying their share of employment taxes that the apprentice will end up paying themself at tax time. Being paid 1099 means the apprentice owns a legal business with a tax EIN and can report to work (when they can agree to) as a business owner not employee. The salon is hiring them by contract work (an example of a 1099 contractor is like an electrician, plumber or landscaper hired to do a job when building a home).


How long is an apprentice program?

Apprentice programs are NO LESS than one year in a salon to earn at least 2,000 working hours. They must be paid for all working hours at minimum wage or more (even if they don't do nail services to earn at least minimum wage for every hourin the salon). Apprentices should be cleaning, prep work or office/reception when they are not servicing clients to earn their hourly salary when clients are unavailable to service. Apprentices should be learning how to sanitize and safely perform mani, pedi, acrylic service with other services as extra training. Apprentices should not be providing nail services until they have their apprentice license from DOLI. 


What happens after I finish the year of 2,000 hours apprenticing in a salon?

After completing an apprenticeship (no less than 1 year) in the salon the state representative will issue a certificate (after a state school theory training is passed) to show completion of the service hours. After completing the salon service hours, the apprentice can leave the salon or choose to continue to work there. The apprentice must also pass the theory written study course inside a state licensed school or vocational school (with a state approved course) to complete the theory study hour requirements of the apprenticeship. Theory testing can only be done in a state licensed school. After completing the required salon apprentice service hours and state school theory testing- then the apprentice can register to take the state nail exam to get their license for $172 (in 2023). After the two state exams are passed they can get their Virginia Nail Techncian license for $90 (in 2023). It will be renewed every two year to stay licensed. 


What if an apprentice quits before the one year?

A lot of salons may offer apprenticeship to just get workers in their salon and sadly, many salons expect apprentices to quit before the year is up. Many of these apprentices have ended up taking a course in this school after a negative experience in a "apprenticing" salon. The initial experience is great to see if they really like doing nails. If an apprentice quits during their one year salon apprenticeship then they should contact the salon's city/county office to notify them to save the hours they completed. This may require a signature by the salon sponsor/owner. The apprentice has a deadline to complete the additional hours in another apprenticeship salon to finish the requirements to sit for the state exam to get licensed. 


Who do I contact if I was charged a fee to apprentice and not paid minimum wage?

Contact the apprentice office for the city/county that the salon is located in. If you were charged a fee and/or not paid minimum wage for the hours apprenticing you can notify the apprentice office. The salon can only charge a fee for books, supplies or uniforms. You must have spoken to a state representative and shown your ID's to be registered to be a apprentice. Salons can not register anyone for the exams to become licensed. Salons can only submit their year's 2,000 hours to DOLI. Book training must be submitted to DOLI by a passed written course in a state licensed school to complete the requirements to sit for the exam to get licensed. The numbers for DOLI are listed below. Find the city/county that the licensed salon is located in.


CENTRAL VIRGINIA: Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Caroline, Charles City, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fluvanna, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, King & Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Louisa, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, New Kent, Northumberland, Nottoway, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Richmond, Spotsylvania, Westmoreland, and the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Petersburg, and Richmond. Call 804-371-3104

NORTHERN VIRGINIA & VERONA: Albemarle, Arlington, Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Greene, Highland, Loudoun, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Stafford, Warren, and the cities of Alexandria, Charlottesville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Manassas, Manassas Park and Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester. Call 703-392-0900 or 540-248-9280

TIDEWATER: Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore, Accomack, Gloucester, Greensville, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, Northampton, Southampton, Surry, Sussex, and York, and the cities of Chesapeake, Emporia, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. Call 757-455-0891

SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, ABINGTON & LYNCHBURG: Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Buchanan, Campbell, Carroll, Charlotte, Craig, Dickenson, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Grayson, Halifax, Henry, Lee, Montgomery, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Pulaski, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazwell, Washington, Wise, Wythe, and the cities of Abingdon, Bedford, Bristol, Buena Vista, Clifton Forge, Covington, Danville, Galax, Lexington, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Norton, Radford, Roanoke, Salem, and South Boston. Call 540-562-3580 or 276-676-5465 or  434-385-0806 *09

Unlicensed salons, fake apprenticeships and unlicensed techs selling services can be reported to the state licensing department:

Send an email with the name of the tech, their location and any other helpful information (like ads or photos) to: ComplaintAnalysis@dpor.virginia.gov  Any location selling nail services must have a DPOR issued Salon license and DPOR issued Nail Technician license (or cosmetologist) posted for each tech selling nail services. 


Licensed nail techs can be looked up online by their name to see if they have a license to sell nail services in Virginia. All nail techs selling services must also have a salon license even if done in their home. Service locations without a nail salon license posted or a an unlicensed nail tech selling nail services can be reported to the state.  All licenses must be posted for clients to view/find or it will become an added violation to being unlicensed. A Nail Technician or Cosmetology license is required to sell nail services in Virginia. 

Unsafe Nail Services can lead to lawsuits!

Nail technicians can be reported to the state for violation and sued for infections when they:

  • cut any skin around the nails that is living (only dead hangnails can be trimmed)
  • removing living tissue from the feet (menus can not say removal of calluses)
  • diagnose or treat any nail disorder or disease
  • provide services without using new or sanitized tools for each visit
  • perform skin/hair care services for sale above the knees or elbows
  • treat or cut into ingrown nails (this is done by a licensed podiatrist or doctor)

Nail Techs can recognize and refer nail diseases/infections to a licensed medical professional for treatment

State complaint form to be mailed to DPOR
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Sticky cuticle on the actual hard nail can be removed from the nail plate but the proximal fold behind the cuticle CAN NOT be removed or cut by a licensed Nail Technician. If the proximal fold skin around the cuticle is cut or the seal in that area is opened up with rough pressure (using tiny drill bits/metal tools) then it can be reported to the state for violation or a lawsuit if there is infection. If infected, call a lawyer immediately for a potential lawsuit against the Tech and or the Salon. Save photos, videos, dates, reciepts and service information details.  ComplaintAnalysis@dpor.virginia.gov


The instructor at this school main job is providing investigative and expert witness testimony to sue nail salons and nail techs across the United States. Lawsuits for cuticle cutting can get clients thousands to millions of dollars based on the severity of the infection and damage done by the Tech. Nail Techs that cause injury from excessive callus removal or ingrown toenail work can be liable for injury since only a Licensed Medical Professional like a Podiatrist is permitted to do this. Nail Techs are not permitted to do skin cutting of any kind, they are suppose to recognize and refer them to a Medical Professional. Nail Techs perform smoothing and exfoliating skin care on the feet/hands.

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State Licensed © Virginia Nail School in 12 Centre Court in Palmyra VA 22963. 434-305-9799