A professional manicurist working in a salon has the benefit of built-in customers. Depending upon the visibility of the salon, a professional manicurist can build a reputation in the nail business that can lead to a financially and creatively satisfying career. Working as a freelance manicurist can present challenges working in a salon might not, primarily in building a customer base that can keep your business successful.
Obtain your education. While it isn't necessary to have a license to be a manicurist, having the education can give your customers peace of mind. You can obtain certification as a nail manicurist at many vocational or cosmetology schools. The time it takes depends upon the school and program, but it averages between 10 months and a year. Since you will be working freelance and not backed by a salon name, certification will be especially important for your business image. Once you've obtained this certification, you can begin building a customer base.
Apply for a position at a salon. Many freelance manicurists will work in a salon, either for pay or on an internship basis. This achieves two things. First, it gives you the chance to learn in a real-world setting from those who have been in the business for a period of time. It can also allow you to network and possibly build up your own customer base. Since it isn't required that you do an internship (unless your school requires it specifically as part of the graduation process), the length of an internship can vary. Six months to a year is typical.
Plan for your freelance career while your doing your internship. Things to take into consideration will be the particular tools you need to do your job, whether you intend to set up shop in your home or travel to your customers and how you will finance your business. Many beginning manicurists wishing to pursue a freelance career continue to work in a salon while they establish themselves as a freelancer on the side. This allows you to build a clientele slowly while earning a paycheck regularly.
Build a contact list and keep accounting for your business. Your internship or employment time is the perfect opportunity to structure the financial profile of your business. Without consistent income, you will never be able to freelance full time, although you may be able to manage it on a part-time basis.
Break away from the salon when you have the clients you need to support yourself financially. The amount of money you will need to support yourself fully not only includes your personal living expenses, but the money it will take to keep your freelance operation afloat. If you can't do these things, you aren't ready to freelance full time.