Understanding Unlicensed School Training

Many Techs are offering training on the side to earn extra income. Credit hours to get a Nail Technician license can only be given by a licensed nail tech instructor when the training is done inside of a state licensed school with a state approved course for training. School and Instructor licenses must be posted for the public to view at all times to avoid unlicensed training violations. If you can not find a school and instructor license posted the "school" is in violation. 


To be licensed to sell nail services in Virginia: you must complete a state approved course inside of a state licensed school, high school or vocational school. You can also complete a one year apprenticeship (if it was done correctly) with the added state approved theory training inside a state licensed school. 


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 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. 


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. You need a state nail technician license to sell any nail service in Virginia. Some Techs teach 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.


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.


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. Nail Techs in the luxury spa industry could earn on average $300-500 a day without paying for supplies with possiblity for benefits like 401K and health insurance plans. 

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. Salon employers can call the office representative for your county in order to make your DPOR licensed salon a apprenticeship salon.


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

If you find a state licensed salon that is also 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 state licensed salon 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. Only one apprentice is allowed per licensed nail tech in the salon. So 3 licensed nail techs can sponser up to 3 apprentices in the salon until they quit or finish. If you did not speak to a state representative and show your ID's then your hours/time has not started. Contact your salon's city/county office if you feel like you are being scammed. Numbers are listed below. 


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 the 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 the salon is hiring them by contract work (like a electrician, plumber or landscaper hired to do a job).


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. 


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. 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. 


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 or not paid minimum wage for the hours apprenticing you can notify the apprentice office. 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.  The numbers 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 techs 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

Ingrown nails can only be cared, treated or cut by a licensed Podiatrist or Doctor

Cuticle can be removed from the nail plate but the proximal fold beind the cuticle can NOT be removed or cut by a licensed Nail Technician. If the proximal fold is cut or opened up it can be reported to the state for violation and if infected call a lawyer. Save photos, videos, dates, reciepts and service information details.  ComplaintAnalysis@dpor.virginia.gov

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