Proposed Ohio law would change requirements for cosmetologists

CLEVELAND -- Inside salons, talk over new haircuts has shifted to talk of new rules to get a cosmetology license in Ohio.

Among other changes to training and education, Ohio House Bill 189 would reduce the number of instruction hours required for a cosmetology license from 1,500 at private schools, 1,125 at career technical schools, to 1,000 hours.

The bill also would create a new apprenticeship program that could save students tuition money at cosmetology schools by allowing them to work as a paid apprentice under a trainer in a salon.

Proponents say the changes would reduce the amount of debt students face from cosmetology school, while critics argue it would sacrifice important training.

Salons currently provide additional training to new employees beyond that offered at cosmetology schools.

Jennifer Pealer, owner of Jenniffer & Co. Salon and Spa in Mentor, said she worries the reduction in required hours could increase the amount of time and resources she spends on additional training for new employees.

“As a business, I don't want to have less standards, I want to have higher standards,” Pealer said, noting that the legislation matters for salon customers, too. “First of all, their service provider will not be as educated, and no one wants someone that's uneducated. Secondly, from a health and safety perspective, we want it to be good and we want it of a higher standard.”

Nancy Brown owns Brown Aveda Institute, a private cosmetology school with locations in Mentor and Strongsville, and said the legislation would create a lower standard.

“I understand how much skill it takes to be able to use sharp implements, to be able to use hot implements and chemicals on the public,” she said, noting Ohio is among the states that expects the most of its licensures. “To see that decreased, I feel the public would be vulnerable and expect a level of safety that would no longer exist. I feel like the people who have worked hard to become professionals would be devastated because it's like taking away a degree that they have earned.”

At 1,000 hours, those receiving a cosmetology license would still have more required training than police officers, who must complete at least 711 hours to be certified, and paramedics, who must complete between 600 and 800 hours to be certified in Ohio.

Shana Izworski, Director of Operations at Dino Palmieri Salons, which has 10 locations in greater Cleveland, supports the legislation.

Izworski said she feels the changes will get students into salons sooner without compromising training.

“This gets them through that training program faster so they can go on the floor, be salon ready, taking guests, making an income,” she said. “We know schools are there for licensing and sanitation and safety, and the bill doesn't take that away.”

The bill, which was co-sponsored by Hudson Republican Rep. Kristina Roegner, remains in committee.