Burdensome Occupational Licensing Requirements is Causing a Real Problem for Women

Lisa A. Gates Apr 11, 2018

Proponents of occupational licensing often claim that the reason we need licensing is to protect citizens – both their health and safety. And protecting people is of paramount importance. But what if public health and safety aren’t at risk? Or what if licensing requirements in one profession are completely out of line with a profession where workers are entrusted with peoples’ actual lives?

That is what is happening with the debate over cosmetology licensing. As was recently pointed out in The Columbus Dispatch, “In Ohio, you can be an emergency medical technician after completing 800 hours of training, a police officer after 695 hours and a licensed practical nurse after 1,376 hours. And to sit for a licensing exam to cut hair? Would you believe 1,500 hours of training?”

Given these facts, it is apparent that public safety is hardly a legitimate concern when it comes to licensing cosmetologists.

There is a proposal to lower the number of training hours for a cosmetology license to 1,000 – the same as required in New York City. Opponents claim that this would hurt women and question if supporters of the change “have a women problem.” This would be laughable, if the proposed change was not so important to women who want to enter the cosmetology profession to earn a better living for themselves and their families. The real problem for women is the skyrocketing costs and unnecessary time it takes to get a cosmetology license.

By lowering the hours required for a cosmetology license to the same as it is in New York City, Ohio would help women save money on school costs so they can begin their careers. As Dawn Hochwalt, a salon manager from Dayton, Ohio, said, “When I was in school it cost around $6,000 to go to school and get a license, now that cost is $20,000 or more. That debt is putting a tremendous burden on young people and the 1,500 hours they need to earn their license means they are not able to get on the salon floor to earn a living and pay off their debt.”

And cosmetology jobs are growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for cosmetologists will grow by 13 percent by 2026. However, with the barriers Ohio is putting in the way, these jobs will go unfilled and this growth in jobs will disappear.

If policymakers want to help women, be family-friendly, and help jobs and businesses grow they must remove barriers for people, particularly women, to pursue the careers of their choice.

Lisa A. Gates is the vice president of communications at The Buckeye Institute.