How legislators can improve licensing laws for barbers and cosmetologists in Minnesota

Many occupations require state licensing. Generally, however, cosmetologists and barbers are two of the most widely licensed occupations and also face the most burdensome restrictions compared to most other licensed occupations.

In 2017, for example, the Institute of Justice published a study that analyzed 102 commonly licensed low-income occupations among the states. And among those, barbers and cosmetologists were two of the most commonly licensed occupations in all of the states. Moreover, these two occupations were in the top 10 most onerously licensed occupations.

For Minnesota, out of 34 licensed low-income occupations, barbers ranked the 8th highest, and cosmetologists ranked the 10th highest most burdensome occupational licenses.

Certainly, Minnesota has made one big positive change since the publication of IJ’s report. Our state no longer requires anyone applying for a barber license to have 12 months of experience. However, all the other requirements remain as burdensome as they were in 2017. Barbers and cosmetologists still spend thousands of dollars, as well as thousands of hours getting an education in order to get licensed.

This is quite problematic. The barber and cosmetology industries are made up of low-income individuals who do not have thousands of dollars to spend on barber or cosmetology school. In fact, a lot of graduates from cosmetology school have been found to take student debt in order to finance their education despite the fact that their occupations do not pay a lot of money.

And for those unwilling to go into debt, high entry costs keep them out of the industry entirely. This has an effect on customers as well because when supply is restricted, prices go up.

Legislators need to ease licensing rules for barbers and cosmetologists. And there are a lot of ways through which they can accomplish this.

What legislators should do

In a recently published report, American Experiment proposes that legislators do the following in order to improve licensing laws for barbers and cosmetologists:

  • Reduce required training hours for barbers and cosmetologists s
  • Create a specialty hair technician license
  • Adopt inspection, certification, or other less burdensome rules
  • Repeal unnecessary administrative laws.

Loosening rules will reduce the cost of obtaining a license, encourage entrants and thereby improve supply and competition. Moreover, improved supply and competition will choices give consumers more choices and likely reduce prices.