MN lawmakers need to loosen licensing rules for barbers and cosmetologists

According to ABC News,

The Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology voted to reduce the number of hours required to obtain a cosmetology license from 1,500 hours to 1,000.

The board, under the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR), conducted the vote at its most recent meeting on July 11. A panel of advisors were assembled, including representatives of businesses, public schools, and private career and technical schools.

“Reducing regulatory obstacles that get in the way of both businesses and talented Virginians from entering the workforce has been a priority of mine since day one,” said Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Not only will this allow individuals to get to work sooner and help businesses find skilled workers, but it even reduces the amount of student loans a graduate will have to take on.”

On average, the education required for a cosmetology license costs more than $16,000 and takes nearly a year to complete, according to officials.

Virginia’s 1,500-hour training requirement was originally put in place in 1963. The change to 1,000 hours will undergo several regulatory steps, such as public comment, before becoming final.

Cosmetology training programs will also have a greater focus on public protection such as infection control and chemical safety, according to the Governor’s Office.

Most licensed occupations in Minnesota face no requirements, but barbers and cosmetologists do

Occupational licensing is harmful in a lot of ways, so any effort to loosen licensing laws is always welcome.

Generally, however, cosmetologists and barbers are two of the most widely licensed occupations. In addition to that, cosmetologists and barbers are also among the most onerously licensed occupations. So, these two occupations deserve special attention.

To give an example, in 2017, the Institute of Justice published a study that analyzed 102 licensed low-income occupations among the states. Among those 102, barbers and cosmetologists were in the top 10 most onerously licensed occupations among the states. For Minnesota, out of 34 occupations, Barbers ranked 8th highest on licensing burden and cosmetologists ranked 10th highest.

Certainly, the case is different among states, but the general trend is the same. Compared to most other occupations, barbers and cosmetologists are crashed much more heavily at the hand of the state.

For Minnesota specifically, about half of the licensed 32 low-income occupations have no experience or education requirements. Cosmetology and Barbers are among the handful of occupations with education requirements.

Minnesota should follow Virginia

And while compared to most states Minnesota does not rank too unfavorably when it comes to cosmetology and barber licensing, it is not the best. For example, in 2017, compared to took Minnesotans 362 days to obtain cosmetology licensing while for a bunch of other states, it took less than that amount.

Figure: Estimated calendar days lost while meeting cosmetology licensing requirements, 2017

Source: Institute of Justice

Certainly, numerous states have taken significant measures to reform occupational licensing in recent years. But these measures have often included broad changes not specifically focused on barber and cosmetology licensing. But given how burdensome licensing in these two occupations is, special reform is urgent.

Fortunately, for a lot of states, including Minnesota, Virginia provides a leading example of one of the things that can be done to loosen licensing rules for barbers and cosmetologists.