Barber licensing changes eyed by pair of bills


Two bills pending before the Ohio legislature want to significantly reduce the number of clock hours required for licensure as a cosmetologist or barber to 1,000 hours.

Currently, the law requires a cosmetologist to complete 1,500 hours of training and a barber 1,800 hours, but opponents of House Bill 399 and Senate Bill 245 say that the measures don’t make cosmetology or barbering education any cheaper, but only reduces the number of hours necessary for licensure.

Marty Sonner owns and operates Sonner’s Barber Shop on West Main Street in Hillsboro. He told The Times-Gazette he had seen a lot of fad hairstyles come and go over his 25 years of cutting hair after completing his course of study at the Cincinnati School of Barbering.

“The requirements are the same, but the price has changed,” he said. “It’s still 1,800 hours and I think it cost me $4,500 for the whole course back in 1994.”

Some cosmetology and barbering courses today cost in the neighborhood of $12,000 to $14,000, he said, and have classes that are eight hours a day that usually run Tuesday through Saturday.

Proponents of the legislation, sponsored by Jena Powell (R-80) of Arcanum, claim that the current licensure requirements are over burdensome and that lowering the number of hours necessary for licensure would lead to less student debt.

Opponents of both bills say they create an entire apprenticeship program with no standards, no curriculum, no proof of education, no experience needed or standards for instructors to actually be qualified to teach.

According to the website, the apprenticeship program seeks to replace proven educational techniques and processes, with apprenticeships that lack consistency and accountability.

Sonner’s father began the family barbering business in 1960 in Xenia, opened a shop in the Parker Hotel in Hillsboro seven years later, and still cuts hair two days a week in Xenia at the age of 84.

“It probably wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference,” the younger Sonner said. “You can only learn so much in the schooling part of it and a thousand hours would probably be plenty. And honestly, I learned more from watching my Dad in the shop with him telling and showing me things than I did at the school.” said that currently, a newly licensed cosmetologist/barber in Ohio can seek licensure in 30 states without the need of investing in any additional education.

They claim if HB-399/SB-245 becomes law, that same newly licensed cosmetologist/barber would lose what is called “reciprocity,” or the ability to transfer qualifications to other states.

Figures from the website say that current education standards produce graduates empowered to start their own businesses, like Sonner said he did in 2007.

They go on to say that 75 percent of barbers, and 44 percent of hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists, were self-employed.

“I don’t think the lowering to a thousand hours is going to make a whole lot of difference,” Sonner said. “You learn how to do this through the hands-on training you get by actually getting out there and cutting someone’s hair.”

House Bill 399 was introduced by Powell on Nov. 6 and is pending in the House State and Local Government Committee after being referred there six days later.

Senate Bill 245 is pending in both the House Health and Aging Committee, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.

Hillsboro City Council President Tom Eichinger enjoys a leisurely trim with Marty Sonner at Sonner’s Barber Shop in Hillsboro. City Council President Tom Eichinger enjoys a leisurely trim with Marty Sonner at Sonner’s Barber Shop in Hillsboro. Tim Colliver | The Times-Gazette
Sonner: ‘I learned more from watching my Dad in the shop’

By Tim Colliver

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