Occupational licenses are a government-sanctioned barrier to entry. It is a restraint of trade, which would be illegal under the antitrust laws if private citizens tried to exclude competition on their own. Moreover, the licensing boards that regulate these occupations are composed primarily of members of that profession — who have a vested interest in keeping out newcomers.
Hairdressers and barbers are not the only individuals subject to occupational licenses. In the 1950s, one in 10 jobs required a license. Today, according to The New York Times, that number is one in three. As government has grown bigger and more intrusive, it has made it harder and more expensive to earn a living.
If a job can kill or maim, then the government should require a license. Yet Kentucky requires licenses and/or permits for art therapists; private investigators, falconers, live fish dealers, sod producers and taxidermists.