Lawsuit Asserts That It’s Far Too Difficult to Become a Shampoo Technician in Tennessee

If you want a career in the beauty industry, most states make you work for it. In New York, for instance, it takes 600 hours to become a licensed makeup artist — which is far more than the 150 to 200 hours it takes to become an EMT. And, according to a new lawsuit filed by the Beacon Center of Tennessee, the requirements for shampoo technicians are just as outrageous.

The Nashville-based libertarian think tank is filing the suit against the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners on behalf of would-be Memphis shampoo technician Tammy Pritchard. According to Mark Cunningham, spokesman for the Beacon Center, “arbitrary government regulations” requiring 300 hours of education are preventing residents like Pritchard from earning a decent living.


States, including Tennessee, make it difficult for people like Tammy Pritchard to become a shampoo technician. (Photo courtesy of the Beacon Center)

“Washing hair is clearly not a safety hazard,” Cunningham tells Yahoo Beauty. “It is something that most people do every single day, and it’s completely unfair that the Tennessee government forces people to get an expensive and time-consuming license that essentially amounts to a tax on low-income Tennesseans who just want to work.”

Related: It’s Harder to Become a Makeup Artist Than an EMT in 33 States

What does it cost to become a shampoo tech? A lot more than you’d imagine, Cunningham explains. “The typical cost of those classes is around $3,000,” he says. “In addition to that, there is a $50 licensing fee. However, because there are no current schools that offer this class in Tennessee, it means that to be a shampoo technician in Tennessee right now, you need a full cosmetology license.”

Cosmetology licenses require 1,500 hours of education, and the total cost of schooling typically ranges from $15,000 to $32,000. “For Tennesseans like Tammy, becoming a full-blown cosmetologist just to wash hair is not a viable option,” Cunningham says.

According to Franklin Academy in Nashville, a typical shampoo tech course costs $3,225. The class teaches an “understanding of the theory of shampooing, as well as the skill.” It helps a potential technician “develop good habits and sanitation procedures” and covers what supplies are required. The course is meant to prepare a student for the State Board examination for becoming a licensed shampoo technician.

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All that said, the Franklin Academy isn’t offering its class for shampoo techs for the remainder of the year. Cunningham says the Beacon Center asked the state government about options for those like Pritchard, but representatives said they were “unaware of any school that currently offers the program as of March 2016.”

Tennessee has the most restrictive shampooing requirements in the country — only four other states currently have similar laws in place to become a shampoo tech, and the regulations in Tennessee are twice as burdensome as the next greatest state. Cunningham says that as long as others’ rights aren’t violated, everyone in the country deserves the chance to make an honest living through decent job opportunities.

Professional shampooing shouldn’t be so hard in the state of Tennessee. “This is a prime example of a law that was put in the books to stifle competition and make it nearly impossible for low- and middle-income residents to use their skill set to better their economic situation,” Cunningham says. “It disproportionately hurts the very people who need a job the most.”

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