Nail professionals generally either own salons, are salon employees or rent booths. If you don’t want to own a salon just yet, understanding the difference between booth rental and employment is important, and it’s always good to learn how to rent a booth in a salon.

A little research into your state’s laws and your area’s market will equip you to make an informed decision about renting some booth space. To help you find your next step, here’s a breakdown of types of nail artist employment.

Booth Renter

The booth renter is essentially a business owner renting a space in a salon. As a booth renter, you’re in charge of paying the salon owner rent while establishing your own prices, services and receipts for taxes, which are documented in a 1099 during tax season.

This situation is a lot like owning your own salon, without you having to shoulder the overhead costs of rent and utilities alone. You will choose the products that you use and operate as an independent business that happens to be housed in a salon, similar to how stores in a mall each pay rent to the mall, yet remain independent.

If you’re wondering how to rent a booth in a salon, a little research can go a long way. First, figure out the specific business ownership laws of your state and region; these can help guide you through the right bureaucratic channels. Next, take some personal inventory. Are you the type who thrives on setting your own schedule? Or do you need someone to provide some structure for you? Figuring out these answers is a critical step in deciding if you want to rent a booth or seek salon employment.

Once you’ve got your business up and running, finding booth space is much like finding an apartment. Look for an owner who will charge you a regular, flat rental fee. By renting a booth, you can acquire your own customer base and set your own schedule. That flexibility alone can be worth it.

Independent Contractor

Often confused with the booth renter, the independent contractor receives a 1099 from the salon owner (rather than from their own record-keeping) and contracts out their services. The independent contractor is contracted to perform specific tasks for a set amount of pay. This means that earnings flow from the salon owner to the contractor once services have been provided. The salon owner sets the service prices and hours of operation, while the contractor provides their own supplies. It’s ideal to have a written contract detailing the rights and responsibilities of each party to avoid confusion and profit loss.

If you’re the type of person who needs a bit of structure but still likes to have control over some parts of their work, becoming an independent contractor might be best for you. And it might be as simple as documenting that title in a contract with a salon owner. If your title isn’t documented, it’s a bit more complex, as you have to assess your work conditions, including whether you provide your own supplies, have scheduled work hours or receive in-salon training.


The line between an employee and an independent contractor is not always clear. To put it simply: An employee can be told what to wear, what hours to work, and what services to offer and how to perform them, while an independent contractor might have a little more freedom. An employee may receive an hourly wage or commission on services performed, and the salon provides all products and supplies. Finding employment in a nail salon is a lot like finding any other kind of job, complete with an application, an interview and possibly a demonstration of your skills.

No matter what path you decide to take, you need a clear, decisive and detailed contract with the salon owner that lists each of your expectations. As a booth renter, you should be completely in charge of your own salon finances: You set the prices, collect the money for services rendered and carry your own liability insurance. Booth rental can be a satisfying way to be an owner while enjoying the camaraderie of a shared space.