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How possible changes to Cosmetology and Barber Board Licensing may affect local businesses

Willow Jernigan
Blondie & Co. is located at 3975 Cascades Blvd. in Kent.

Barbershops and salons like Blondie & Co. in Kent await changes to the Cosmetology and Barber Board’s licensing regulations, as Ohio House Republicans passed Bill 158 to the Senate in an attempt to lower costs and ease the path to obtaining licensure

Passed in September, House Bill 158 would unify the school license for barbering and cosmetology, allowing facilities that teach both to only need one joint license. It would also reduce fees, add pre-exam work permits and lower the age requirement for barbering school from 18 years old to 16 years old. 

“Realistically, there’s not much difference between Cosmetology and Barber licenses,” said Allison Kensinger, owner of Blondie & Co., a salon and barbershop. “The hours are the same as far as getting your license, they are just governed under different boards.”

Kensinger, who said she has been in the business for over 30 years, has a managing cosmetology license, and her barbershop is licensed as a hair salon and barbershop. She said barbers and cosmetologists have many of the same skills, but barbers are not licensed to provide manicuring or waxing services, and cosmetologists are not licensed to use a straight razor.

Both cosmetologists and barbers in Ohio must go through 1,800 training hours at a licensed school before taking their respective exams to obtain a license, Kensinger said.

Despite the similarities between the two jobs, Kensinger said she still believes the two industries should stay separate.

“It’s a different culture,” said Kensinger. “I don’t believe anyone should try to make barbers stylists, or vice versa.”

The bill also sets out to eliminate an additional 200-hour training requirement for re-taking the licensing exam if a person fails.

“You need every bit of training, and I think most everyone in our industry agrees with that, except for the people who want a fast license,” Kensinger said. “Especially where barbers are concerned, there’s not very many places you could go to for an internship or to find a mentor.”

The addition of pre-exam work permits for barbers would give them more opportunities to practice the skill on top of their required training hours. 

The current skill of most entry-level cosmetologists and barbers in the Kent and Cuyahoga Falls areas is comparable to ‘chop shops’ like Supercuts because of a lack of educators, Kensinger said.

“They can’t find people willing to do that job, because they would basically be taking a pay cut – stepping out from behind the chair to go in to do education,” Kensinger said. “It’s kind of hit or miss if somebody is lined up to do more specialty or hands-on training with specific cutting or shaving techniques.”

Lowering the age to apply for a barber license or barbering school to 16 years old will hopefully bring high school barber programs to Ohio. Currently, there are cosmetology programs at local schools like Kent Roosevelt, and Cuyahoga Falls High School, among others in the state, Kensinger said.

“High school training programs give two full years of training, they place them in internship programs, so they’re better prepared for what it’s like to be out there and working,” Kensinger said. “Barbers don’t have that. They’re not recruiting young people.”

Kensinger said she believes the bill still needs editing, so barbers don’t feel like the Board wants to make everyone a cosmetologist.

“I know right now within the board, it’s a battle,” Kensinger said. “I hope if they go through with the bill, they will still hold barbers as their own industry.”

Willow Jernigan is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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  • D

    Dave LewisNov 12, 2023 at 10:30 am

    Dave Lewis: Hard to believe it takes 1800 hrs of school to receive a license to cut hair but it’s easier to get a Semi truck driving license.

    I think having apprentice program is great.