FILE - barber shop, licensing reform, occupational licensing

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House Bill 5438, introduced by Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Wayland, aims to untangle the expense and time it takes to become a licensed barber in the state of Michigan.

If passed, Johnson’s bill would end Michigan’s barber licensing requirements completely.

Currently the state requires 1,800 hours of coursework at a licensed barber college as well as proof a student has passed an examination approved by the board and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) before granting a license to barber. Additionally, the student must be 17 years of age and as well completed tenth grade or a tenth-grade equivalent. Finally, the student must “be of good moral character.”

“The state mandates in Michigan to be a barber are among the highest in the nation; in fact, Michigan barbers need more educational requirements than attorneys,” Jarrett Skorup, director of marketing and communications for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said in a statement. “The strict rules limit economic opportunity, especially for those with modest means.”

Rep. Johnson concurs. “Quite simply, state government has a thousand better things to do than tell barbers how to cut hair,” Johnson said in a statement. “This license is an unnecessary regulation and does nothing to protect public safety.”

Tuition for the Michigan Barber College, a state-accredited and licensed school, is $12,325, according to the MBC website. Tuition does not include lodging, books and equipment.

“The system as it exists right now creates a false notion,” Johnson told The Center Square. “The notion is, if government gives you a license than you must be good at your job. That’s not necessarily true,” he said.

“You shouldn’t have to get government’s permission to cut someone’s hair,” Johnson continued. “We should be doing everything we can to assist people attempting to join the workforce rather than setting up roadblocks that require tremendous amounts of money and time,” he said.

“If a consumer is willing to have someone cut his or her hair, why should government get in the way of that transaction?” Johnson asked. “There are really creative barbers out there who never went to school. They’ve already built up clientele for their services, and requiring them to incur a tremendous financial investment and time for something they already know how to do just so the state can grant them a license doesn’t seem right,” he said.

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.