By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - A bill in the Montana Legislature would reduce the number of training hours a cosmetologist or barber needs to apply for a license in the state.

Montana requires 2,000 total curriculum hours to apply to be a licensed cosmetologist. House Bill 393 would bring that number down to 1,500. According to the American Institute for Research, the national average is close to that number.

Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, R-Billings, says the bill would help students get through school faster and not get into so much debt.

“If they can go to school for nine months instead of a year, roughly, from 2,000 hours to 1,500 hours required, they have a higher chance of success as well,” Zolnikov said.

The bill would also bring down the 1,500 hours of training needed to apply to become a licensed barber to 1,100.

The House Business and Labor Committee will hear the bill Friday morning.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.