In the midst of a pandemic, New York legislators are busy working to protect the public from another fake threat to their safety: shampoo assistants. 

The New York Post reports: 

A new bill moving through the State Assembly and Senate will require “shampoo assistants” working in hair salons to complete a minimum of 500 hours of a 1,000-hour course in cosmetology. The completion of 500 hours will entitle applicants to a newly established “Shampoo Assistant Certificate.”

As the article describes, shampoo assistants are primarily responsible for tasks such as draping the client, lathering their hair and rinsing, and other jobs such as sweeping hair off the floor. These are not complex tasks that would need 500 hours of training to perform safely. 

Shampoo assistants are currently entry-level jobs that could allow individuals to make a living even while training for another profession. Cosmetology school is expensive–programs in New York cost around $13,000 and requiring certificates could eliminate the profession altogether. 

The Post suggests a motivation for this bill: 

The bill is a hidden cash cow for the state. Under “fiscal implications,” its authors note it would “provide additional revenue to the state in the way of application fees and fines for practicing as a shampoo assistant without the proper certificate or practicing as a shampoo assistant after the certificate has been suspended or revoked.” It doesn’t specify how much the fines would be, but an earlier version of the bill from 2019 suggested 500 bucks for a first offense and a $1,000 for every one subsequently.

These bills are just another example of so many occupational licensing requirements that are unnecessary and only serve to limit competition and provide new streams of state revenue through licensing fees and fines. 

Particularly in this challenging time, with millions of Americans still out of work or with reduced incomes, we should not be creating more unnecessary barriers to work. Here at IWF we’ve been telling the stories of individuals who have faced challenges due to arbitrary occupational licensing requirements with our Chasing Work project. 

Americans need fewer barriers to work, not more. New York legislators should reject these ridiculous bills and look out for their residents, not their pocketbooks.