pa occupational licensing

Stefano: Occupational licensing holds Pennsylvania back

Hairdressers and make-up artists alike have to deal with excessive and onerous government regulations to earn a living, explains Commonwealth Foundation Executive Vice President and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jennifer Stefano in her recent column.  

Stefano follows the plight of talented make-up artist Jasmine, documenting the injustice of occupational licensing requirements that would require her to spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on schooling just to pursue her dream. 

“Pennsylvania’s arbitrary regulatory environment threatens the humble livelihoods of talented, hardworking individuals like Jasmine,” Stefano argues. “Home to more than2,400 permits, licenses, and certifications, the Keystone State is long overdue for regulatory reform.” 

Stefano writes:

Pennsylvania requires cosmetologists to complete at least 1,250 hours of study at a cosmetology school (the average cost of tuition in the commonwealth is about $15,000), or have completed 2,000 hours of work as an apprentice at a salon under the tutelage of a licensed cosmetology teacher. 

There’s also an entrance exam, a $118 license fee, and an $82 renewal fee every other year.

“That’s a lot of money,” said Jasmine, who’s 38. She told me that because she doesn’t have much formal education or credit history, it has been a struggle trying to establish a life on her own.

Despite the financial burden, Jasmine first tried doing things “the right way.” She applied for student loans but was rejected. She’s worked to save money to obtain her license, but she tells me it’s just not feasible to do that and keep a roof over her head. 

You can read Stefano’s entire column here.


The Commonwealth Foundation turns free-market ideas into public policies, fostering prosperity for all Pennsylvanians.