Two nail technicians

If you’re thinking about becoming a Nail Technician and are wondering which areas of the UK offer the best salaries, our UK Nail Technician Salary Survey for 2021 has the answers.

According to Indeed’s database of statistics, and in contrast to last year, it’s English Nail Technicians that make the most per hour on average. In 2021, the average hourly rate for an English Nail Technician is £10.43.

Scottish Nail Technicians are next at £9.65, with Wales offering an average of £9.17 an hour, and lastly Northern Ireland, with an average hourly rate of £9.15 – nearly 12% below the average rate in England and a difference of over £200 a month!

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UK Nail Technician Salaries

The top-earning locations for nails & beauty professionals

There’s no doubt that 2020 was a hard year for the beauty industry, but with pre-pandemic figures showing that approximately 12 brand new beauty salons open their doors every week, there are strong indications that this is an industry poised to bounce back in a big way.

Unsurprisingly, as most of us have spent months at home/not going out, nail and beauty treatments are set to be one of the most in-demand and successful business niches in the UK. Before 2020, Simply Business identified the huge growth potential in this industry, with a 51 percent year-on-year increase in mobile beauticians looking for insurance.

So if you’re thinking that now is a good time to move into the nail and beauty industry, you probably want to understand the earning potential – as well as how this might differ depending on your location in the UK.

Similar to the difference between the average hourly rates for Nail Technicians in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, there are also significant differences across the different regions within each country – particularly England.

The different hourly rates and salary potential are influenced by a lot of complex factors, like demand and population, and while you might expect to see higher rates of pay in London, there are still some surprising differences.

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

LocationHourly ratePercentage above UK average
Brighton£11.7513.20%
Covent Garden£16.5159.06%
East London£11.6412.14%
Hackney£11.4610.40%
Harrow£13.0625.82%
Highgate£13.0625.82%
Islington£13.0625.82%
Kensington£13.9234.10%
Manchester£17.4367.92%
Mayfair£14.1736.51%
Shepherd’s Bush£13.3828.90%
Wandsworth£13.0625.82%
Westminster£11.8914.55%
Wimbledon£13.0625.82%
Worthing£22.03112.24%

When these are plotted on a map (see below) it’s clear to see the overall dominance of locations in central and Greater London, but there are also a couple of interesting ‘outliers’.

The highest hourly rate is available in Worthing on the South Coast – with an average wage of over £22.00. Also, in the North West, Manchester is offering average hourly rates of £17.43. Between them, these two, non-London locations accounted for the two highest available Nail Technician salaries.

Surprisingly, unlike previous years, where there was excellent potential for Nail Technicians and beauticians living in Birmingham, the Black Country, and the West Midlands, rates in these areas are now much closer to the national average, with some previously well-paid locations even having dropped below the £10.43 level.


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

As we’ve already highlighted, and 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 £16.51 an hour, which is a staggering 59% above the national average.
  • A Nail Technician in Mayfair can hope to take home £566 for a 40 hour week — which is a third more than the national average.
  • Other notable areas include Kensington at 34% higher than the national average, and the popular North London locations of Highgate and Islington, which are both offering Nail Technicians the opportunity to earn 25% more than the average UK salary.

This colour-density map shows 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:


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 a Nail Technician’s 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 are about £21,000. 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. 

Find out more about our Nail Technician courses and start your future in beauty today


Please note: Statistics from Indeed’s database were accurate at the point of extraction, March 2020.