If you want to provide hair, skin or nail services in Michigan as a cosmetologist, it requires a $200 fee, passing an exam and taking more than 1,500 hours of education and training. That’s much more than the state requires of child care workers, 25 times more training than it mandates for carpenters or roofers and 250 times more than the minimum standard for auto mechanics.
A new report from the Institute for Justice shows that this leads to high costs and loads of debt for the predominantly low-income women trying to work in cosmetology. It’s very unlikely that the state of Michigan’s mandates are worthwhile.
According to the study, for the state of Michigan, the average cosmetologist:
Has to pay more than $15,000 to meet the education and training requirements.
Is eligible for Pell Grants 85% of the time, meaning they are lower-income students.
Has one-third of the mandated educational costs covered by this federal grant.
Incurs about $8,300 in debt from cosmetology school.
Has only a 50-50 chance to finish the licensing requirements within two years.
In sum, Michigan’s licensing requirements make cosmetology school expensive and time-consuming, with few students graduating on time. The hours of training required rarely pay off in terms of earnings for those who do become cosmetologists. And nearly half of the people who enroll in these programs never finish, which means the time and money was wasted.
Lawmakers should evaluate Michigan’s cosmetology licensing law and get rid of the mandates that don’t make any sense. Regulations should be simple and directly aimed at what problems the government is trying to solve. If the state cares about cleanliness and safety in cosmetology shops, it could periodically inspect them. It does not require an extensive licensing program to achieve that goal.
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