Why have so many Vietnamese immigrants become nail technicians?

The average nail technician today is a career professional: experienced (in her 30s, with at least eight years on the job), licensed, and has some college education. She still does nails regularly, often relying on her own clients more than the salon profits for her income. The average nail tech today is as often Vietnamese as Caucasian, most probably  female, and works alone (54% of nail techs work in a single-tech salon). We also know the significant role this mostly female profession plays in today’s economy: 67% of nail techs have children and either are head of household or are married and share a financial contribution to the household.

Statistics Nail Salon Vietnam in United States

Are you licensed?
Are you licensed?


Ethnic breakdown of U.S. nail techs

1 . Vietnamese ………………..41%
2 . Caucasian …………………..39%
3 . African-American ………..10%
4 . Hispanic ………………………7%
5 . Korean …………………………2%
6 . Other ……………………………1%

Ethnic breakdown of U.S. nail techs - Vietnamese 41%
Ethnic breakdown of U.S. nail techs – Vietnamese 41%

Why have so many Vietnamese immigrants become nail technicians?

Although there are many reasons why Vietnamese immigrants came to the nail industry and have succeeded, there is also an interesting Hollywood Angle: Apparently, in 1975 the actress Tippi Hedren, best known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” was a regular visitor to Camp Hope in California as the first wave of Vietnamese refugees arrived. Hedren befriended a group of women at Camp Hope and wanted to help them develop a skill so they could make a living once they left the camp. Hedren told the documentary producer Jody Hammond in a documentary called “A Hand Up,” “One of the things I considered was manicuring. At that time I had a really wonderful manicurist whose name is Dusty and I asked if she could come up and help these women.”

Hedren says Dusty came from Los Angeles once a week to teach the women manicuring skills, and then the women attended formal training at a nearby beauty college. Thuan Li, one of the women in that original class cultivated by the movie star, still works with the same company where she started in 1975.

Source: “A Hand Up” produced by Jody Hammond

Top 20 Regions for Vietnamese in the U.S.

1. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County
2. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
3. Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (TX)
4. Dallas-Fort Worth
5.Washington DC/VA/MD/WV
6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton (WA)
7. San Diego
8. Boston-Worcester-Lawrence (MA)
9. Philadelphia-Wilmington, DE-Atlantic City, NJ
10. Atlanta
11. Sacramento (CA)
12. Portland-Salem (OR)
13. Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN)
14. Chicago
15. New Orleans
16. Denver-Boulder-Greeley (CO )
17. New York City
18. Phoenix
19. Oklahoma City (OK )
20. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (FL )

Which title best describes your position?


A: Salon owner (doing nails) 34.9%

B: Nail technician/booth renter 34.6%

C: Nail technician/employee 18.6%

D: Student 4.7%

E: Salon manager/nail dept. manager (doing nails) 3.4%

F: Salon manager/nail dept.manager (not doing nails) 3.0%

G: Salon owner (not doing nails) 0.8%

Which title best describes your position
Which title best describes your position



How long have you been doing nails?


A: One year or less 18.3%

B: 2-3 years 17.4%

C: 4-5 years 11.2%

D: 6-7 years 7.7%

E: 8-9 years 6.2%

F: 10+ years 39.2%

How long have you been doing nails?
How long have you been doing nails?



Where do you live?


A: New England/Mid-Atlantic 22.1%

B: North Central 19.0%

C: South Atlantic 19.9%

D: South Central 15.9%

E: Mountain 6.9%

F: Pacific Coast 16.2%

Where do you live in USA?
Where do you live in USA?


What is the highest level of school you have completed?


A: Some high school 3.9%

B: Finished high school 30.8%

C: Some college 40.7%

D: Finished college 18.1%

E: Graduate school 6.5%

What is the highest level of school you have completed?
What is the highest level of school you have completed?


How old are you?


A: 25 or younger   9.1%

B: 26-30 year old   14.8%

C: 31-35 year old    20.6%

D: 36-40 year old   18.9%

E: 41-45 year old    14.5%

F: 46-50 year old    10.9%

G: Over 50 year old    11.2%

How old are you?
How old are you?


Home Life *



A: Married with kids 50.4%

B: Unmarried with kids 16.1%

C: Married with no kids 12.4%

D: Unmarried with no kids 18.3%

E: No response 2.8%

Home Life of nail technician statistics
Home Life of nail technician statistics




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