Shampooers don’t need 1,000 hours of training

It takes 1,000 hours of training before you can professionally shampoo hair in Mississippi.

Shampooers shampoo and rinse consumers’ hair in a beauty parlor. They perform fewer services than a cosmetologist, but work alongside them. Currently, just 7 states require a specific license to be able to work as a shampooer, and 30 more require a full cosmetology license. In 14 states, one does not need a license to be able to work as a shampooer.

Shampooers are analogous to assistants, working with cosmetologists instead of competing against them. They are able to increase the number of customers served by a cosmetologist, by performing some of the simpler tasks, freeing cosmetologists up for the tasks that require more expertise. The profession is a path to gain some experience before training to become a cosmetologist. It does not pay as well as a cosmetologist, so states that require a cosmetologist license effectively prevent anyone from becoming a shampooer.

Shampooing is a safe practice. They are limited in the chemicals they use, unlike a cosmetologist. Additionally, they are overseen by cosmetologists, who hire and manage them. The cosmetologists are responsible for ensuring beauty parlors maintain safe environments. Because cosmetologists, who are able to discern quality more easily than the public, hire shampooers, there is not the information asymmetry that exists for most licensed professions.

Mississippi stands out as the only state in the comparison group to require shampooers to obtain a cosmetology license to work. The training lasts 1,000 hours, 700 more than the next most stringent state, Tennessee.

The primary reason to support licensing of shampooers would be health and safety concerns. However, shampooers only perform tasks that carry a low risk of injury. Cosmetologists, not the public, hire shampooers, and cosmetologists have the knowledge about these treatments to judge shampooer’s ability.

Alternatives to the current licensing regime would begin with creating a license specifically designed for shampooers, like the other states in region have. This should only focus on the tasks that would be performed by shampooers, instead of everything a cosmetologist does. The shortened education would also reduce the cost, making it easier for someone to be willing to work as a shampooer.

Inspections: In place of licensing, the state could require regular inspections of beauty parlors. This would ensure that shampooers work areas were safe and the utensils were clean, to prevent injury to clients. Moreover, the inspections could ensure that shampooers were only offering the services they are skilled enough to perform, not those reserved for cosmetologists, if there were limited changes to the current cosmetology licensing regime.

Market Competition: The state could choose to rely on market competition to ensure shampooers presented no risk to the public. Cosmetologists are able to observe the quality of those applying to be hired as a shampooer. Shifting the regulatory focus from professionals to establishments in order to ensure health and safety would preclude the need for licensing shampooers.

You can help reform occupational regulations. Please sign the petition below.