Two nail technicians

Are you looking for a breakdown of the nail technician salary for the UK?

According to Indeed’s database of statistics, Welsh nail technicians take home the most when it comes to average hourly earnings. They earn approximately £9.04 an hour, which is about 23 pence an hour more than English nail technicians. That is a difference of around £385 a year!

Typically, Wales’ nails and beauty experts earn 8 per cent more than the UK average. Following Wales is England at £8.81, Scotland at £8.44, and Northern Ireland at £8.34.

A map showing nail technician salary differences in the home nations.

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Nail Technician Salary UK: The top-earning locations for nails & beauty professionals

Approximately 12 brand new beauty salons open their doors every week. In fact, more beauty salons open than any other type of independent business. Currently, nails and beauty is the most in-demand and successful business niche in the UK.

Like the pay-grade between the Home Nations is slightly different, so is the average pay across the entire UK. Pay-grades and earnings are influenced by a lot of complex factors, like demand and population. 

Below is a list of the highest-earning locations for nails and beauty technicians in the UK:

High-Income areas% above the national average
Covent Garden128%
East London22%
Kensington & Chelsea33%
Oxford Circus38%
West Bromwich141%

When plotted on a map of the UK (see below), two interesting regional clusters appear. One in Greater London and one centred around Birmingham and the West Midlands. With an outlier in Cambridge.

The best opportunities, far and away, appear to be for nail technicians and beauticians living in Birmingham, the Black Country and the West Midlands. Kidderminster, Tamworth, and Nuneaton all earn more than 160 per cent the national average.

An even higher rate than in London. In fact, Simply Business has identified a 51 per cent year on year increase in mobile beauticians looking for insurance, naming the West Midlands cluster as the top freelancer hotspot.

The boom in entry-level and early career nail technicians is not surprising given how well the industry is doing overall. 

London is also home to some of the largest nail technician salaries in the UK

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Greater London area is home to some of the largest nail technician salaries in the UK. 

  • Covent Garden — which straddles between the Clapham and Westminster boroughs boasts average earnings of £19.06 an hour, which is a staggering 128% above the national average.
  • A nail technician in Shoreditch can hope to take home £422 a week — which is more than double the national average at 61%.
  • Other notable areas include Kensington and Chelsea at 33% higher than the national average, based on £348 per day; and the borough of Hackney, which pays its nail technicians approximately £11.25 an hour, or 34% more than the national average.

Here is a colour-density map, showing the highest paying boroughs to be clustered just north of the Thames right in the centre of Greater London. There is also a ‘north-south divide’ here — though in this case, it is the north that is the most wealthy:

A map showing the highest earning areas in London for nail technicians.

Demographics of a nail technician — What does the market look like today?

There are currently an estimated 93,500 beauticians working in the UK today. This figure does not include hairdressers or barbers. 

The following pie chart suggests that many more people are starting new careers as a nail technician (entry-level + early career), and equally many more have forged stable careers out of the role (mild career + experienced). 

A pie chart showing the average experience nail technicians have.

The boom in entry-level and early career nail technicians is not surprising given how well the industry is doing overall. 

What are their working hours?

According to the latest 2019 official labour market statistics (provided by the ONS), about 53% of nail technicians are self-employed. This almost equal split shows there is great freedom of choice in how nail technicians can put their skills to the market. 

When it comes to working either full-time or part-time, there is a pretty even split in both the employed and self-employed demographics. As the following graphs reveals:

There are no official numbers to qualify what counts as full-time working, but the UK government generally considers it to be around 35 hours a week

What influences average earnings?

According to Payscale, the average earnings for a nail technician in about £24,161. This is due to various factors that can top-up the salary, including any bonuses and commission-based work. 

What are the most popular nail technician qualifications?

According to the Further Education and Skills data collected by the Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the most popular ambition amongst nail technicians is to achieve a Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology, with there being a combined total of 2,620 enrolments for 2018/19.  

In all of these courses, just 220 participants got an accreditation through an apprenticeship. A total of just over 3 per cent. The overwhelming majority was through college courses or other course pathways.

Gender in nails & beauty

According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for 2019, there is no gender pay gap between full-time nail technician workers. Both men and women earn exactly the same estimated amount.

A man and a woman on a scale: gender differences in nail technician salaries

There are a lot more women than men in the industry, but increasingly more men are getting involved. Especially at the managerial level, an area that has nearly double the number of male workers as in the staff area. 

Currently, about 93 per cent of the staff workforce are women. And 16 per cent of nails and beauty managers are men. 

Do you want to be a nail technician?

The nails and beauty sector is full of opportunity. Not only is it the fastest growing industry, but it is also rapidly diversifying and expanding. And with its growth comes more demand for skills and, as a result, higher pay-grades.

The next big revolution is expected to be male-orientated cosmetics

So the future looks very bright for the world of nails and beauty, with no signs of slowing down. 

Please note: Statistics from Indeed’s database were accurate at the point of extraction, October 2019.