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Occupational licensing in Indiana: Does it really help consumers?

Tuesday in Indiana, Senate Bill 399 passed, curbing the growth of unnecessary licensing regulations. Research analysts say current licensing laws keep people from pursuing certain careers.

Posted: Feb. 7, 2018 5:57 PM
Updated: Feb. 8, 2018 9:33 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- To become licensed for certain jobs in Indiana you have to train for up to four years, pay a fee up to $1,000, and pass exams. Nationally, Indiana is ranked 26th most burdensome licensing laws according to the Institute for Justice.

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Tuesday in Indiana, Senate Bill 399 passed, curbing the growth of unnecessary licensing regulations. Research analysts say current licensing laws keep people from pursuing certain careers. You might be surprised to find cosmetologists have to put in more hours than EMTs to become licensed in their field.

"There is very scant research that suggests that licensing does what it is supposed to do, which is protect consumers and increase quality of service," said Jennifer McDonald with the Institute for Justice.

McDonald believes cosmetology requires long hours and fees because of how competitive the field is, but people working in the field said the 1500 hours of training is for a good reason, and dives into areas such as the chemicals in color, different techniques, and even skin and nail diseases.

"It helps them not to make small mistakes, which would turn client guests away, never giving them a change again," said Shirley Williams, owner of Southwest Hair and Day Spa in Fort Wayne.

Williams has been doing hair for nearly 50 years, and in that time she's hired cosmetologists of all experience levels.

"There was a week of how to dry style, cut, how to do a perm, just kind of the basics, and after six weeks you're on the floor and doing clients, but at the same time you're still learning," said Tori Schneider, a cosmetologist.

Schneider said it's the small details that make a big difference and keep clients safe and coming back.

On the other side are EMTs, training for a minimum of 160 hours, about ten times less than cosmetologists.

The education coordinator at TRAA said that doesn't speak to the quality of care.

"There's never really been a question about whether or not it's the right amount of training. All training is necessary," said Daniel O'Shaughnessey.

Eric Allmon is the program chair of paramedic science at Ivy Tech, and said EMTs don't go as in depth as paramedics, who study for about 1400 hours.

"Nothing invasive, no IV initiations, no medications that they're giving," Allmon said.

McDonald said the huge difference in training hours speaks to how irrational licensing in Indiana can be, and suggested consumer rating websites may be a solution for some career paths that will keep people employed and clients coming back.

"That helps promote good quality and give consumers the information they need without imposing arbitrary, government restrictions on these workers," McDonald said.

Bill 399 passed in the Senate 41-6. It will now move to the House.

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