There’s Red Tape In My Hair

Barbers and hairstylists in Iowa must cut through massive amounts of red tape before they can cut hair.


Red tape, in the form of excessive regulations, makes it harder for Iowa to attract new residents and create new opportunities for current workers. Sadly, these burdensome regulations are not only cost-prohibitive for many, but they also shut the door on improving one's lifestyle.


Occupational licensing is promoted as a means of ensuring public safety and protecting the public. However, Iowa's requirements from industry to industry are inconsistent.


Compare the days of training needed to become a licensed barber or hairstylists (490 days) to an emergency medical technician (26 days). Iowa demands almost 19 times more training to cut hair than it does to be the first line of defense for saving lives and providing emergency medical care!

Rea Hederman, Jr., who serves as Executive Director of the Economic Research Center and Vice President of Policy at The Buckeye Institute, sums it up simply, “Bureaucrats shouldn’t determine a worker’s future. His or her career should be defined by their skills, talents, abilities, and hard work.”


Iowa needs to make it easier for people to enter or advance in the workforce. Here are three alternatives that protect the public without unnecessarily hindering workers and businesses from providing goods and services:


  1. Professional Certification: Numerous businesses have an industry-specific certification that isn’t provided by the government.  Auto repair shops, for instance, will often tout the certification of their mechanics.
  2. Bonding and insurance:  Knowing financial protection from damage or theft is in place offers consumers a level of confidence before proceeding with major repairs or renovations.
  3. Inspections:  Restaurants and food-related businesses are subject to regular health inspections to ensure that the public is protected from unsanitary conditions.


Iowa should not eliminate all job licenses or create a “free-for-all” economy.  However, for some occupations, reducing the time and expense required to get a permission slip from the government is needed.