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The Dirty Dozen: Barber/Cosmetologist

BY LINDSAY BOYD KILLEN

November 13, 2017 1:20PM

Among the industries that are most heavily regulated by senseless licensure schemes in Tennessee, becoming a barber or cosmetologist sits at the top of the list. Unfortunately, the red tape surrounding the process of obtaining the licenses is prohibitive for many individuals who have practical and marketable skills in these areas, many times acquired outside of a traditional educational setting or as they rehabilitated through the justice system. Shouldn’t government’s role be to protect the pursuit of happiness, encourage paths to self-sufficiency through the dignity of work, and promote the restoration of individuals’ potential to become contributive members of society?

Currently, to become a barber, one must obtain a high school degree, complete 1,500 hours of additional schooling, take two exams, and pay $215 in fees. All that before receiving a license to perform this very practical, marketable skill. Similarly, cosmetologists must go through the same requirements, except they don’t need to first obtain a high school degree. This inconsistency between two very similar occupations speaks to the arbitrary nature of these regulations.

Sadly, these burdensome regulations are not only cost-prohibitive for many, but they also shut the door to those without a high school degree, who may have taken an unconventional path or are seeking to rebuild their lives after prior experience in the juvenile or adult justice systems. In fact, these latter settings are often the place where individuals can learn and become practiced barbers.

The Tennessee General Assembly should eliminate the mandate that barbers obtain a high school degree, while further reducing the amount of hours and costs of entry fees for both professions. Finally, for any educational requirements that remain in place, lawmakers should allow apprenticeships to count toward those hours.