A bill working its way through the Tennessee legislature would combine licenses for cosmetology and barbering. Many in the industry are worried the bill will pass.

Because nearly all other states distinguish between barbers and cosmetologists licenses, opponents of the bill say it will restrict barbers and cosmetologists from being able to transfer their license to another state.

Currently, both barbers and cosmetologist must undergo 1,500 hours of training before they can receive their license. Though the total workload is equivalent, Master Academy of Barbering owner Bianca Dyon says the specialty licenses ensure both barbers and cosmetologists are qualified in their profession. Dyon says by combining the two licenses and requirements, students will be required to demonstrate more skills, but with less time to develop a mastery level of their chosen craft.

“It’s kind of like taking away specialty drivers’ licenses,” Dyon said. “No need for a CDL, no need for a motorcycle license. If you do great, great. If you mess somebody up, you mess somebody up. There are no stipulations to it.”

The House version of the Tennessee Cosmetology and Barbering Act has been passed to the Finance, Ways and Means Committee, while the Senate version will is scheduled on the Senate Labor and Workforce Committee calendar for Tuesday.

A letter from the National Association of Barber Boards of America addressed to the Senate committee states the association's disapproval of the bill:

Barbers and cosmetologists are licenses separately in all states except New Jersey, which only offers a cosmetologist-hairstylist license. The proposed training of 1500 hours to be inclusive of both barbering and cosmetology education and training will not meet the licensing requirement for barbers in any state other than New York (600 hours, no chemicals), providing the New York Board accepts the curriculum and hours associated with the barber training portion in Tennessee.”

The association also says the hybrid license bill will create “unnecessary barriers” to someone with a license who wants to move their practice to another state.

“I think it would definitely deter talented stylists,” Dyon said. “I know that at least probably seven or eight of my students have already said that if this bill passes they will transfer out of my school to go to another state to finish our their licensure so that they do not have to deal with the hybrid license qualifications.”

Multiple states barber boards, including Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama have said that individuals with a hybrid license would not be allowed to practice in their state.

Dyon also fears that by combining the two licenses, the required expansions for both barber and cosmetology schools would threaten her business.

“We would possibly shut down just because of the amount of remodeling we would be required to do,” Dyon said. “We would have to add five more stations. We would have to add more waxing units, five manicure stations. It’s difficult for me already to fit the 30 students that I have.”

The bill removes regulation of natural hair styling, which includes braiding, wrapping and weaving that doesn’t involve dyes or chemicals. That section of the bill has received mixed reaction.

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