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Iowa Regulations Require Cosmetologists Get 16 Times the Training of Medics



(p. 6) The amount of time Ms. Lozano spent learning to give haircuts, manicures and facials was enormous, but the requirement was set by the state, and she didn't much question it. She was determined to earn enough money to move out of her mother's house. Only a few weeks after getting her cosmetology license in 2005, she was hired at a local Great Clips.

The job, though, paid just $9 an hour, which meant that her days double-shifting at Pizza Hut weren't over. Even with tips, Ms. Lozano didn't earn more than $25,000 in any of her first few years as a cosmetologist. For years, she relied on food stamps and health insurance from the state. She couldn't cover living expenses and keep chipping away at her loan payments. Thirteen years after graduating, she still owes more than $8,000.


. . .


Each state sets its own standards. Most require 1,500 hours, and some, like New York and Massachusetts, require only 1,000. Iowa requires 2,100 -- that's a full year's worth of 40-hour workweeks, plus an extra 20. By comparison, you can become an emergency medical technician in the state after 132 hours at a community college. Put another way: An Iowa cosmetologist who has a heart attack can have her life saved by a medic with one-sixteenth her training.

There's little evidence that spending more hours in school leads to higher wages. Nor is there proof that extra hours result in improved public safety. But one relationship is clear: The more hours that students are forced to be in school, the more debt they accrue. Among cosmetology programs across the nation, Iowa's had the fourth-highest median student debt in 2014, according to federal data.


. . .


(p. 7) Iowa, with its 2,100-hour standard, remains "an embarrassment," said Dawn Pettengill, a Republican state representative who will retire next month. Hoping to lower the profession's barrier to entry, Ms. Pettengill this year introduced legislation that would drop the hours to 1,500. Republicans in the Senate proposed a similar bill.

Schools and their lobbyists mounted a fierce pushback. The schools "were livid," said State Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican subcommittee chairman. "I didn't expect the amount of opposition."

The school association's political action committee had given more than $20,000 to Iowa candidates since 2014. It also had three lobbyists registered with the state; for the last session, the organization paid the lobbyists' company $12,500.

While the dollar amounts weren't huge, a little goes a long way in Des Moines. Hearings weren't publicized, or even required, giving an advantage to the well-organized group.



For the full story, see:

Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz. "For-Profit Cosmetology Schools Can Entangle Students in Debt That $10-an-Hour Jobs Barely Dent." The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018): 6-7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 26, 2018, and has the title "A $21,000 Cosmetology School Debt, and a $9-an-Hour Job.")






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