Do you need to take the State Board nail technician or manicurist exams in New Jersey? On this page you’ll find everything you need to know about scheduling and preparing for your exam, answers to all the most common questions, and a free practice test to check you’re prepared!
The process of registering for (and passing!) your New Jersey Nail Technician / Manicurist exam
If you’re preparing to graduate from a nail technician program, then let us be the first to say CONGRATS! You’re almost ready to start your dream career as a nail tech.
The only thing that’s standing in your way now is passing the New Jersey State Board exams and getting your license.
If you’ve been preparing for these exams already, then you probably know that New Jersey doesn’t call them “nail technicians,” but rather “manicurists.” But don’t let that intimidate you – the scope of practice is the same, only the names are different.
So, the exam and requirements we’ll be focusing on in this article are for New Jersey Manicurists.
And if you’re like a lot of people we talk to, the process of scheduling and taking your exams sounds daunting – especially since information concerning New Jersey’s exams are difficult to find. But don’t worry: we’ll walk you through the process step by step. Starting with…
Step 1: Check you’re eligible to take the New Jersey State Board Manicurist Exam
This step is simple. To be eligible to take the manicurist exam set by the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling, you must:
- Complete 300-hour manicurist course AND
- Be 17 years or older AND
- Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
You’ll be able to take the test early if you’ve completed 240 hours of instruction.
Step 2: Apply for the New Jersey Manicurist examinations
In New Jersey, you must take both a theory (written) and a practical (hands-on) exam.
You have to complete and pass the theory exam first, before you’ll be eligible to take the practical exam.
The application process is different for both and is honestly a little confusing. So, in this article we’ve broken it down into the two parts.
The first exam you’ll need to apply for is the theory – or written – part of the exam.
Your education provider will help you gather all the necessary information for the initial application.
Then, they will electronically send your information to PSI (the testing company) once you’ve completed the required number of hours.
You’ll get an email confirmation as soon as you’ve been submitted and PSI confirms they’ve received your information.
Before you can schedule your practical exam, you have to first pass the written portion. As such, these exams will take place on different days.
When you are ready to apply, though, you have to fill out an application and send it in to the State Board along with any and all required documents and fees.
The first step is to download and print out the application, which can be found here. Alternatively, you can go into the Board office and pick up a copy there. Then you’ll need to fill it out.
Once you’ve filled it out to the best of your ability, you’ll need to get it notarized. Most UPS stores and local bank branches offer Notary Publics, but they do tend to charge a small fee.
Then you’ll have to pay the testing fees, which can be found on the first page of the application. It has to be a check or Money Order, and you can make the check out to the “State of New Jersey” and mail it to:
New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling
P.O. Box 45003
Newark, NJ 07101
On occasion, you might be required to submit official transcripts from your school or official results from your written exam.
If that’s the case, you’ll have to arrange for your education provider or the testing facility (PSI) to send the documents directly to the State Board. They aren’t able to accept copies or any documents sent directly from you, the applicant.
If you have any other questions regarding the practical exam application, you should call the State Board directly at (973) 504-6400.
Step 3: Schedule your exam
You’ll be scheduling your written exam first. You can only schedule your practical exam upon passing your theory exam.
And again, since the process of scheduling your exam is different for the theory portion and the practical portion, we’ve broken this section into the two parts.
You’ll be eligible to schedule your theory exam after your information has been submitted to PSI by your school and you’ve received your email confirmation from PSI.
There are two ways to schedule:
- By phone
The most convenient way is to simply go online and create an account on PSI’s website. You’ll be asked to enter in your email address and name. Both of those must exactly match the information provided to PSI from your school.
You’ll also see a box next to “Check here to attempt to locate existing records.” You’ll want to make sure that box is checked, so the system will know that your information should already be in there.
Then, you’ll be asked to pick the exam you’re wanting to take (manicurist) and enter your social security number.
Once your records have been located, you’ll be able to pay the non-refundable $39 exam fee and schedule your exam.
If for some reason the system can’t locate your information, call PSI at (800) 733- 9267.
To schedule your exam, enter your ZIP code. Then a list of test sites that are closest to you will pop up. You just choose the location you want, and then choose from a list of available test dates and times.
Just remember that you’ll have one year from the date of payment to complete your exams.
If you would rather schedule your exam by phone, all you have to do is call (800) 733-9267 during their business hours.
They’re open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
After you’ve passed your theory exam and sent in your application, your practical exam will be scheduled for you within 6-8 weeks.
You should call the State Board within a week of sending in your application to ensure that they’ve received everything they need and that you’re in the process of being scheduled.
If you call and find out your application wasn’t approved, they’ll let you know what you’re missing and be able to tell you how to provide them with that information.
You can reach them during their business hours at (973) 504-6400.
Step 4: Arrive at the exam center on exam day
It’s always a good idea to arrive about 30 minutes early to the testing facility to make sure you have enough time to check in and get everything in order before the test begins.
You won’t be let in if you’re late, and you’ll have to forfeit your exam fee and reschedule.
For the written portion of the exam, you’ll be taking it at a PSI testing site. You’ll need to provide two forms of identification, one primary and one secondary.
Acceptable forms of primary identification (one with a photo) are:
- State-issued driver’s license or nondriver’s ID card
- U.S. passport
- Military ID card
- I-551 Permanent Resident Card
- I-571 Refugee Travel Document
- I-688 Temporary Resident Card
- I-688A Employment Authorization Card
- I-688B Employment Authorization Document
- I-766 Employment Authorization Card
Acceptable forms of secondary identification (one without a photo) are:
- State-issued driver’s license or nondriver’s ID card
- Utility or credit card bill issued in the past 90 days that has your name and current address (cannot be a PO Box number)
- Checking or savings account statement from a bank or credit union, issued within the past 60 days
- Original lease or rental agreement showing your name as the lease or renter
- Property tax bill, statement, or receipt from the past year
- Any letter or correspondence received from the IRS or state tax office in the last year
- First-class mail received from any federal, state, or local government agency in the past six months
They also don’t allow any personal belongings to go into the testing room itself, but they should offer on-site storage if you need it.
Step 5: Take the exam
Your first exam, the written portion, will be administered at a PSI testing site. The exam is a multiple choice test and is done entirely on the computer.
Before your test actually starts, you’ll have an on-screen tutorial that will help you get used to the computer software. You have up to 15 minutes to familiarize yourself and ask the proctor any questions before your test begins.
Once your exam time starts, you’ll have two hours to complete 115 questions. Out of those, 105 are scored questions, and 10 are pretest questions that don’t count towards your score.
Here’s a breakdown of the topics you’ll be asked about during your test:
- Safety, Sanitation and Disinfection – 25 questions
- Client Consultation and Professional Conduct – 5 questions
- Nail Structure and Physiology – 15 items
- Basic Manicure and Pedicure – 32 items
- Artificial Nail Enhancements – 18 items
- Hair Removal – 5 items
- New Jersey Laws and Regulations – 5 items
And if you want a more in-depth look at what each section entails, check out PSI’s Theory Exam Bulletin.
For the practical exam, all exams begin at 10:30 a.m. They state that they aren’t overly strict on the time limit, so long as you complete all that needs to be done.
You’ll be given more information about the practical exam after passing the written portion.
Step 6: Get your results
For the written exam, you will get your results immediately on screen (I know – nerve racking!). You must get 75% or more correct in order to pass. You’ll also get an official score report printed on-site after your exam.
If you didn’t pass, you’ll get a notification on screen that will indicate your strengths and weaknesses, which will help you know where to study for next time.
You must also pass your practical exam with a score of 75 or higher in order to receive your license.
Step 7: Get your New Jersey Manicurist license!
Once you’ve passed both your written and practical exams, then congrats – you’re officially a licensed manicurist!
Upon passing the practical exam, you’ll immediately be issued a license number, which you can find online. They’ll also print your license and mail it to you, which you should receive within two weeks.
If you didn’t pass either portion of your exam, you’ll have to reschedule, pay the fees, and try again.
Failing the exams is heartbreaking, but it’s more common than you might think: the pass rate for the written exam nationally is only 50%! However, students who use our Nail Tech Exam Preparation Package have a pass rate of 98.5%!
Frequently asked questions about the New Jersey Manicurist exam
How do I apply for the New Jersey Manicurist examination?
To apply for the New Jersey State Board written exam, your education provider will electronically send over the required information to the testing entity PSI.
Then you’ll receive a confirmation email once your information has been entered into their system.
For the practical exam, you’ll have to fill out an application, which can be found online here or it can be picked up at the Board’s office.
You’ll have to get it notarized and pay all the required fees. You also might need to have PSI or your school send in official documentation to the State Board if they request it.
I can’t make the date/time of my examination. What should I do?
To reschedule your exam, contact PSI by calling them at 1-800-733-9267.
Their business hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
All exams must be rescheduled at least 48 hours in advance.
Which examination program does New Jersey use?
New Jersey uses the PSI Exam testing program for its Manicurist exam.
How much does it cost to take the New Jersey Manicurist exam?
Entry to the New Jersey Manicurist written exam costs $39, and the fee is non-refundable.
Where does the examination take place?
The exam takes place at one of the many PSI testing facilities. Those locations can be found on pages 2 and 3 of this testing guide.
How many hours of practical work do I need to qualify for the New Jersey Manicurist examination?
Manicurists in New Jersey need to complete a 300-hour manicurist course to qualify for the exams and be eligible for immediate licensure.
If you’ve completed 240 hours of schooling, however, then you’d be eligible to take the early examination.
Can I take the New Jersey Manicurist examination before I’ve completed the required hours?
Yes, you can take the exam early if you’ve completed 240 hours of schooling.
How long is the manicurist written examination in New Jersey?
The theory exam in New Jersey for manicurists is two hours long.
What’s the format of the written examination?
The written examination is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination.
To know the breakdown of topics you’ll be questioned on, check out pages 9-10 of their Test Bulletin.
If you want to familiarize yourself with the testing format, try out our practice test here.
How long is the nail tech practical examination?
In New Jersey, all practical exams start at 10:30 a.m. They state that they aren’t strict on the time limit, so long as you complete the required tasks.
You’ll receive more information regarding the practical exam upon passing the theory exam, but you could always call the Board at (973) 504-6400 with any further questions.
What’s the format of the practical examination?
The practical exam is a series of hands-on tasks that you’ll be asked to perform in front of a proctor.
What scores do I need to pass the manicurist exams?
In New Jersey, to pass your written exam, you must get a score of 75% or higher. You’ll receive the results immediately on screen after completing your exam.
For the practical exam, you must get a score of 75 or higher in order to pass. You will also be given the results immediately after completion of the test.
What’s the pass rate for the New Jersey Manicurist exam?
Unfortunately, New Jersey doesn’t publish an individual pass rate for their exams, but the national average pass rate for the written portion is only about 50%.
Check if you’re on track to pass your exam by taking our free nail technician practice test.
How many times can I re-take the New Jersey Manicurist examinations if I fail?
You can retake the exams in New Jersey as many times as required.
You will, however, need to wait 15 days from the date of your exam to reschedule, and you’ll need to reschedule and pay the fee each time you retake the test.
How long does the Manicurist course take in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, there are no time requirements imposed on schooling hours. So, it all depends on whether or not you go to school full time or part time.
Generally, if you go to school full time, you can finish your hours in about 2-3 months. However, if you’re only going part-time, it might take you anywhere from 6 months to a year to complete.
How do I transfer my Manicurist licence to New Jersey?
To transfer your license to New Jersey, you must contact the State Board where you’re currently licensed. They’re required to submit a certification of your current, active license directly to New Jersey’s State Board.
After you’ve done that, you’ll want to call the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling at (973) 504-6400 to ensure they’ve received the certification.
Someone at the Board will review your certification to determine if you qualify for an endorsement or if you have to take the exams.
Generally, to be eligible for endorsement, your home state’s requirements need to be very similar (or even surpass) New Jersey’s. Unfortunately, if you’re coming from a state that did not require a practical exam, you’ll have to take the New Jersey Manicurist exams.
The State Board, after reviewing your certification, will direct you to the appropriate application you must fill out and return to them.
How do I get my Manicurist license in New Jersey?
To get your New Jersey manicurist license, you’ll be required to complete a 300-hour manicurist course and pass both a theory and practical examination at a PSI testing facility.
You’ll have to pass the written examination first before you’re eligible to take the practical portion.
Upon passing the written exam, you’ll have to fill out an application for the practical portion. You’ll generally be scheduled within 6-8 weeks following the acceptance of your application, documents, and fees.
Once you pass the practical exam as well, you’ll get your manicurist license in the mail!
How do I renew my manicurist license in New Jersey?
Manicurist licenses are valid for two years. The Board will send out a notice 60 days prior to your upcoming renewal date. You simply complete a renewal form and pay the required fee!