Certificates: Are They “Legal” or not?

by Janet McCormick

“Is this Certificate recognized by the state?” is a question I get often from nail technicians, and I am perfectly OK with explaining this.  The misconception that most licensees have about school and specialty training is important to sort out.”

First of all, training certificates are not “recognized” by the state. And, no, they will never be.  State Boards are a licensing or registration entity. State Boards are only concerned that you have taken the required hours, performed the required duties, and passed an exam as accepted by the student’s state of residence or school location. They also state a scope of practice (SOP), meaning the regulations within which a professionally licensed person must work.

States do not disapprove or approve specialty certifications. However, there is one situation in which the state intervenes: if a certification course trains working outside your state regulations (SOP), the state must step in.  This is usually cleaned up promptly by the State Board.


Let’s step over into “certifications” now. There are several levels of them. If the attendee can sit in a seat and fiddle with his or her phone during the class and still get a certificate, it is a Certificate of Attendance (COA). It requires no brain work, nothing but sitting in a chair – you can even sleep there if you wish, and you will get a COA. Usually you are required to be there – sometimes not – but you will still get the COA.

Next, is the Certificate of Completion (COC). This certificate, if legitimate, requires some steps along the way, such as taking a quiz at the end of a topic, but they may not have to be graded. Their purpose is to reinforce learning. The course is usually organized in the principals of learning, and at the end, a comprehensive exam is required to be passed. After completing all the required steps – possibly an internship or white paper, or both, the person receives a “Certificate of Completion,” and is certified in the learnings covered. Recipients sometimes work long and hard to achieve these certifications.

Last is a Certificate of Competency (COMP).  A Certificate of Competency is skill training and requires practical exams and usually case studies that must be approved by a trainer or even a group of experts in the skill on an agreed upon grid of competencies. There is considerable effort required upon the part of the professional to demonstrate they have obtained the desired competency. The state does not get involved, but these certifications are prestigious and grant credentials professionals are proud to show off.  For example, unions or manufacturers work together to set them up create and maintain a high level of skill for workers.

Nail Tech Certifications

OK, back to nail technicians. Our State Boards are agencies of the state that follow rules set up by the state legislature for persons wanting to become licensed in their state. Every state had different rules, and all require board exams, whether administered by a national organization,  by the state or by the school (example, Florida). They only issue licenses, according to their rules which incorporate demonstration of only the minimum standards required to obtain licensure. None at this current time approve or disapprove of career development certifications.  Some actually require professional licensees to obtain certificate of attendance in subjects like HIVAIDS or Domestic Violence to obtain or  renew a license

No state that I know of requires approval of specialty certifications beyond licensing, saying “the quality of the course will determine if it progresses or falls away.” It is not neglect on their part. It is the law. To set up a “certification board” would be separate and expensive so I will go out on a limb and say it will not happen.

Summary: States license (or register) professionals. That’s it. And unless a certification class teaches students to work outside their cosmetic license, certifications are legal. I believe in specialty certifications because the state legislatures do not require a high enough level of training for our technicians to be successful – they teach only the lowest level of basics. If a technician wishes to work above the level of bare financial existence, he or she must take more education. So why take one that is designed to sleep through – a COA? Take ones that teach a skill (COMP). Take one that require you to study and set you up for success (COC).

Just my opinion: Learn the differences between licenses and certifications and use them toward your success! Or step out of the way and let other technicians pass, without shouting inaccurate information!

To start your journey toward becoming a Certified Advanced Nail Technician – click here to see the ANT Program.

New Delivery Format & Features!

The just-released 3rd Edition of the ANT Program offers user-friendly viewing options

One of the many changes made in this latest edition of the Advanced Nail Technician Certification Program is the ease of access to the module material. Co-Founder Janet McCormick says, “We have been working on a solutionnew-features-on-ant-modules that would give some flexibility to our students and instructors for months! Some prefer to click “Play” and sit back and take notes, while others wish to have the ability to stop and advance at will. This new delivery software handles both methods–a huge win for all!”

“Part of the equation is being able to deliver the slides in a user-friendly way while protect them from pirating. Our web designer, Claudio Barbieri of Page1Ranking in Fort Myers, FL is a genius!” shares Co-Founder, Karen Hodges.  “We now have the ability to offer students a choice and the ability to move freely among the slides–a huge boon in the class room,” she adds.

Another new and very helpful feature is the ability to instantly search the entire module for any word or phrase. This will help enormously when the students need to review a topic at a future date. Sometimes they’ll remember they saw some information they need in the salon, and now it’s so easy to find the exact reference.

Along with the crisp, clean new graphic design, the hundreds of graphic images and photos that have been incorporated and the revised and updated content, this program is better than ever. It’s a tremendous resource for nail techs.


Nailcare Academy Invited to Join INTA Task Force

International Nail Technicians Association® (INTA) Task Force Continues Work on Game-Changing Certification Program

Nailcare Academy Co-Founders, Janet McCormick and Karen Hodges have been asked to join other industry movers and shakers who are working toward a comprehensive certification program that will offer a level learning foundation for nail technicians.

Currently, nail technicians are one of several salon disciplines subject to widely-varying regulations among the states. “Since starting in the industry in the early ‘80s,” notes McCormick, “it has been a goal of mine to raise the various state standards for knowledge and licensure—especially in the area of infection control. My background in dentistry gave me an understanding of how important aseptic techniques are in providing personal services.” McCormick’s trademarked Safe Salon Certification Programs, stemming back to her published works in the 90’s, mesh perfectly with INTA’s imperative.

The INTA Task Force is meeting at various venues—usually in conjunction with tradeshows throughout the U.S.  Paul Dykstra, CEO of America’s Beauty Show and Chicago Cosmetologists, has long been an advocate for the industry. Now heading up the INTA Task Force, his attention is laser-locked on bringing a long-held goal for INTA to fruition. In today’s mobile society, there should be high level industry standards for nail services across state lines, and ultimately across borders.

In widespread industry representation, members of the Task Force are manufacturers, educators, salon owners, consultants and heads of associations:  Jan Arnold, CND; Lorrene Conino, Salon Lorrene and treasurer of Cosmetologists Chicago; Amber Edwards of Mario Tricoci Salons and Day Spas; Athena Elliott, NailTalk Radio; Dasha Minina, Maxus Nails; Sigourney Nunez, NAILS Magazine; Doug Schoon, Schoon Scientific; Lydia Sarfati, Repêchage and CIDESCO; Bob Spalding, Medinail; Nail Care Consultant Tricia Trackman; Jessica Vartoughia of Jessica Cosmetics and Katharin von Gavel of Footlogix; McCormick and Hodges of Nailcare Academy.

“It’s been long-time dream of mine,” adds Hodges, “for nail technicians to get organized and create a self-policing organization with the clout to bring about change in the states that have little or inadequate safety standards in place.”  As an educator of safety precepts throughout her career as a nail technician and esthetician, she has deplored the lack of basic knowledge and training in sanitation, disinfection and sterilization in salons. “We need to create standards of professionalism,” she continued, “that are inclusive of all scenarios in a salon—whether liquid immersion disinfection is the system used or a dry heat or steam autoclave—they should be understood completely and practiced perfectly.” She feels INTA’s mission of unification is perfect for rejuvenating a professional nail industry that has become tarnished by media sensationalism. “We want more stories about clients finding the help they need with their nail care in clean, safe salons,” Hodges concluded.

For more information about Nailcare Academy’s Safe Salon Certification Program, visit or email questions to [email protected]

The International Nail Technicians Association® (INTA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cosmetologists Chicago® (CC).  CC, owner and producer of America’s Beauty Show®, is an association of more than 14,000 salon professionals.  INTA and CC members include licensed cosmetologists, estheticians and nail technicians, salon owners and cosmetology students.   INTA offers members continuing education, free admission to America’s Beauty Show, legislative representation, technology, networking opportunities, and soon, a certification program.

For more information about INTA, visit 

Tina Porter Named as SSC Instructor

Congratulations to Tina Porter of Riverside, CA, who has become one of Nailcare Academy’s new Certified Safe Salon Instructors.

“We are so thrilled to have an educator of Tina’s caliber join our ranks,” shares Janet McCormick, co-founder of Nailcare Academy. “We have been seeking out excellence and Tina embodies the passion and drive necessary for success in our industry.”

Porter has more than 34 years behind the table and six years as an educator for her local beauty schools. In her years as a nail technology instructor, she embraced a philosophy of “safety and sanitation first.” Her background lead naturally to this emphasis as she is also a Certified Medical Assistant and an Emergency Medical Technician. These roles have prepared her for her next career in the salon: she is also a recent graduate of NA’s Footcare Nail Technology.  This advanced training program provides a broader understanding of the health and condition of the feet and nails for those with chronic illnesses.

Porter is taking her new training on the road — she will be performing on-site routine foot care and cosmetic pedicures for diabetics and others who have chronic health conditions. Her training and background are ideal to support safe, healthful foot care for clients who truly need her services. An example would be someone who is home-bound or in an assisted living facility. Her promise of aseptic practices will assure clients they will be well taken care of.

Not only will she be providing this high-level care for clients in her community, she is an educator and trainer who knows how to pass along her knowledge.  As a Certified Safe Salon Instructor, she will be teaching nail technicians how to work with clients for whom “ordinary” pedicures are not possible.

For example, clients with Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD may not receive massage during foot care appointments. Diabetics may be at risk for a foot soak, due to neuropathy, and the danger of waterborne pathogens with their inability to heal normally. The elderly require specific training for their foot care, as the skin is friable and easily damaged, bruising is a real issue with the common use of blood thinning agents, their joints may be susceptible to injury by someone pulling on them, and so forth.

This niche of foot care clients is growing – approximately 1/4th of the US population has been identified as baby-boomers and many have passed retirement age, with more soon to be doing so. In 2000, the CDC estimated that approximately 12.1 million diagnosed cases of diabetes existed in the U.S. In 2014, that number had nearly doubled at 22 million.(1)  More persons needing foot care provided by trained and aware nail technicians is a growing need, and Tina Porter is ready to step up for her community.

For information about receiving safe foot care in your location, contact Tina Porter, FNT, at (951) 282-0740.

For nail technicians wanting “more” for their clients and their careers, email Tina at [email protected]

To follow Tina on social media, watch for the tag #nailtechtrainer.