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Is It Possible To Make $100/Hour As A Nail Tech?


Daydreaming about your crazy days in the nail suite? While that day is not today, maybe not even the coming months; we know that the moment we're living in won’t be our reality forever. When the time is right, we will reopen our businesses. We hope you’re spending this time in good health and envisioning the best version of yourself given the unprecedented circumstances. Each day takes us one step closer to our intentions. The subject of this particular Biz Talk, may seem short sighted in the age of social distancing closures. However, we wanted nail pros to know that it’s important to cultivate your vision of a life in nails and be ready for when the doors open. We wanted to contribute to your vision work and discuss the possibility of earning $100 per hour. Is it fact or fiction? Are you interested in the breakdown and some simple salon math? Well, here we go!

If your passion is the nail business and you think nails are magic, then keep on reading. If you’re only lukewarm about the nail industry and nails just don’t do it for you, then it’s time to deep dive and find that thing that makes you feel alive. Meh, is not going to cut it. Your passion creates the foundation of your vision. Without a vision you can easily lose your bearings. Your vision puts the spring in your step and focus propels you in the direction of your happiness.

If you can’t imagine the possibilities, then they cannot become your reality. So go ahead and take a small leap of faith. Imagine that you can and will earn $100 per hour. We can see it, can you? Yes, you can! There are two ways to go about it. The first way to earn big is to charge $100/hour for a full set of nails. The second way to earn big is to stack multiple clients within the hour that when added all together the services equal $100 or more. Just remember that this is not going to happen overnight. It can only happen with a lot of planning and practice. You will have to be extremely dialed into your speed and have control over your schedule.

Now that we’re clear on that it is indeed possible. Here comes the computation.

You can charge $90 per full set. This full set takes you only an hour.
You can expect a 15%-20% tip for your work.
You will upcharge for any additional nail art: ombre, painting, stamping, crystals is extra.
$90 service + $13.50 (15% tip) = $103.50 an hour

You can charge $60 per fill. This service takes you only a half hour.
Fills should not be priced at half of a full set.
You can book two fills per hour.
$60 service + $60 service = $120 an hour not including tips

You can charge $80 per rebalance. This service will take less than an hour. This does not include any art.
Each set of nail enhancements have a certain life cycle. It depends on how fast your clients nails grow. The cycle goes like this: Full Set, Fill, and then Rebalance. The typical growth period is 2-3 weeks. After day one of a full set, the next service is a fill. You should try to rebook that automatically at the end of the service for 2-3 weeks out. After the fill, you will schedule time for a rebalance or full removal. It is more than a fill. A rebalance is the service you want to do after 4-6 weeks of nail growth because the structure will not be stable at this point. A fill at this time will not be the best service for wear and durability. It is making something old, new again. Check out our YouTube video on this for clarification.

If you work 40 hours a week x $100 per hour = $4K of weekly income
4 weeks per month x $4000 per week = $16K of monthly income
12 months per year x $16K = $192K annual income before taxes
As a business owner, this 40 hour work week can be spread across any days of your choice. For example, 4 days a week at 10 hour days with 3 days off. For the more ambitious, it could be a 3 day work week with 4 days off. Doesn’t that sound nice? There’s room for flexibility. (A plug for patience and perseverance here, this is only possible once you’ve put in the time in as a nail rookie and hooked a regular clientele. This is not so different for the folks in more traditional career paths. First you get in on the ground floor as an apprentice, understudy, assistant, back up dancer, junior executive, project coordinator, medical resident etc. and then you level up with experience. This is what your nail journey could look like after ten years. It’s a legit career trajectory for a making a good living.)

You will have to make every minute count. Having salon policies in place and enforcing them, protects your time and your bottom line. Not having policies in place is a form of self-sabotage and disrespect. Again, as a nail pro you must clearly communicate your expectations via your policies. It takes planning and scheduling to run a money making nail machine. You alone have to be in control of your schedule. When you hit a full clientele you will be booking more fills and rebalance services than full sets. You can really project what your income could look like based on the life cycle of each set and puzzle the appointments into your calendar to maximize your time. For the numbers we are talking about, the goal is to have a full book of clients seeing sixty-seventy clients a week. If you’re just starting out, take whatever paying clients you can. As you come into your own, you will be able to keep the good clients and release the bad ones. Work up to it one day at a time; one service at a time. Build by getting one return client every day and set the tone for mutual respect. You have the freedom to structure your business the way you want.

Whew! Just wanted to explore with you what a successful career in nails could look like. There are a lot of moving parts to the nail business but if it's something that holds your passion; you will welcome the balancing act. It’s not always going to be easy. It will be easier, if you love what you do. Each client gets dropped into your vision and becomes a ripple of happiness for you to enjoy. The realistic dream job is in your sights.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, BIZ TALK: IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE $100/HOUR AS A NAIL TECH?”
***Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full BIZ TALK discussion here: