Labor expert responds to concerns about reductions in cosmetology license hours in Virginia

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – People across Virginia are weighing in on a potential reduction in apprenticeship hours for those working to get their cosmetology or barber license.

In July, the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology voted to reduce the number of required hours from 1,500 to 1,000.

Many Virginians commented on the changes on the Virginia City Hall Regulations page; with concerns ranging from unprepared students, safety, upset customers, and whether a Virginia license would still be valid in other states.

West Virginia University economics professor Edward Timmons spoke to “WFXR News at Noon” on Tuesday, to address those concerns.

“Over the past 10 years, 15 more states have reduced cosmetology licensing requirements, the two most recent being California and Texas,” Timmons said.

“There is no evidence that 1,500 hours is the magic number to eliminate bad haircuts, bad haircuts are going to happen regardless. There is no evidence in states that already have 1,000 hours – that they get more bad haircuts.

Professor Edward Timmons, West Virginia University

Professor Timmons says the decision to cut hours could potentially contribute to a labor shortage of skilled professionals. The consumer would also see a benefit in lower prices and more choice.

Timmons also claims the change means students will be able to practice their trades sooner, reducing training time by up to 4 months. Currently, students spend an average of over $16,000 and almost a year to complete their education.

The move to reduced hours will likely mean a change in schedule for those looking to become cosmetologists or barbers. Timmons says students will enjoy spending more time learning about infection control and chemical safety.

Timmons says when it comes to hair care, he thinks word-of-mouth has more impact for consumers than a state-issued license. He suggests asking friends and looking for reviews online to find the best hairstylist or barber for you.

Comments on the proposed reduction in hours are accepted until October 12.

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Milton S. Rodgers