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The UK Nails Industry: A Breakdown For 2020 [New Research]

The United Kingdom’s nails and beauty industry is one of the fastest growing and most optimistic-looking branches of all UK business. Now, new comparative research of several government databases, including Nomisweb and the ONS, along with Indeed’s database, Payscale and others, is beginning to shed some light on just what shape the industry, exactly, is in.

Here is what the current data shows for the nails and beauty industry in 2020.

There is no better place than the West Midlands to be a nails technician.

Astonishingly, a cluster of locations all in the Birmingham and Black Country areas have shown to have some of the highest earning potentials in the entire country — beating even London by quite some distance.

That is not to say London isn’t a great place to start work in nails and beauty. For example, the earning power in Covent Garden is almost 128% the national average. Other great places include Shoreditch (38% above the national average); Hackney, and Kensington & Chelsea (which both boasted numbers of pay higher than 33% the national average).

But nail technicians in Kidderminster, Nuneaton and Tamworth all took home — according to Indeed’s database — more than 160% of the national average. Aside from these two clusters of high-pay hotspots, there were a few other areas that proved to be great opportunities for nail technicians. That is Cambridge (145% more), and to a lesser degree Cardiff, Newcastle, Southampton, and Clifton (which all took home more than 20% the national average).

Removing these extremely high-earning outliers from the equation, based on average hourly pay, it is actually Welsh nail technicians overall who earn the most, pocketing about £9.04 an hour. Which is more than England (£8.81), Scotland (£8.44) and Northern Ireland at £8.34.

Most employed nail technicians have a Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology.

According to the UK government’s National Aims report for 2018/19, just over half of all qualified nail technicians have the Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology qualification. The second most popular was the Level 3 RQF Diploma in Nail Technology, and coming in third was the Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Nail Services.

The report also highlighted that the overwhelming majority of nail technicians went to college to obtain their qualifications (97%), and that only 3% took the apprenticeship route.

The industry is almost 50/50 split between freelancers and salon workers.

The government’s Nomisweb data has revealed that there are only slightly more freelance workers in nails and beauty than salon-based workers. And what’s more, these two demographics are themselves almost 50/50 split between full-time and part-time workers.

That means that approximately half of all salon-based workers work full-time, and part-time. The same goes for freelance workers. Half of them work on a full-time basis, and the other half work part-time hours.

Furthermore, a study by Simply Business found the West Midlands to be the “freelance” hotspot of the UK. Could being a freelance nail technician in the West Midlands be the key to ultimate success in the United Kingdom? Further research in this area is needed for a precise conclusion to be drawn.

The industry is full of new talent, with an established experience base.

Given how quickly the industry is expanding, it is probably no surprise to learn that a good percentage of its workers are in the “entry level” or “early career” stage. In fact, that is exactly what Payscale discovered. Around 7.4% of nail technicians described themselves as entry level when polled, with 52% referring to themselves as at early career level. This stood up to a healthy 25% that referred to themselves in the “mild career” bracket, with an additional “experienced” class of 16%.

Given current growth trends in nails and beauty, it is most likely that these percentages will remain relatively static for the coming years, before starting to swing towards “mild career” and more.

The industry still has some challenges — and opportunities — that lie ahead.

Things are looking really optimistic for the nails and beauty industry, but there’s no harm in being cautious. Now that there are more nail technicians than ever before, the challenge to nail technicians comes from within. Nail technicians will have to work harder than ever before to beat the competition, and attract; impress and keep clients. This may require more training, qualifications, a willingness to adapt, and greater networking skills.

Another problem is that, at the start of 2020, the industry is still heavily female-dominated. And yet, at the managerial level, the men are still overrepresented. Going forward, the industry needs to look at itself and ask what can be done to encourage more male partnerships, and also to increase the number of female working managers.

But, with 2020 set to be the year that the male-beauty industry finally enters into the mainstream, we might not have to wait so long for those changes to come about.

— This guest article was written by Neil Wright of Future In Beauty, an organisation that runs nail technician courses and eyelash extension training courses all over the UK.

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