Posted On: November 7, 2022

Bartending License: A Beginner’s Guide on How to Get One in Every State

What Qualifications do I Need to Become a Bartender?

A few years ago bartending was seen as a part-time job or a gig which individuals would get to make extra money on the side. However, bartending has since grown into a full-time profession for thousands across the country.

A recent study found that people are getting increasingly attracted to bartending; primarily due to its 2.5% job growth rate and a lucrative annual salary exceeding $24,000. Mixing drinks for a living sounds fun, and more individuals are earning their bartending license put their skills to the test.

While not all states require bartenders to earn a bartending license before practicing their craft for money, many food and beverage establishments are starting to enact these licenses as a requirement to ensure their staff knows the basics before serving customers.

If you’re looking to start your career as a bartender, but have no idea how to get your license, we have all the answers for you. In this article, we address some of the most common concerns would-be bartenders have. Read on, as we tell you what exactly you need to do to become a licensed bartender.


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Virginia Alcohol Seller/Server + ANAB Food Handler

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Washington Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST)

Start your Washington alcohol seller training to earn your MAST certification online.


What is a Bartending License?

A bartending license is a state or municipal-issued bartender certification required to sell alcohol in certain states. You need this to prove that you have gone through the state-approved courses and understand laws regarding the sale of alcohol and other related aspects.

While every state has a minimum legal age to sell alcohol, licensing obligations differ. They have different courses and prerequisites. For example, you must have a license before you start working as a bartender in some states, while others give you a grace period where you can work for 180 days while your license is in process.

The certification course teaches you all the state laws and best practices in the field. It also provides you with legal cover to get jobs that pay you according to the industry standard.

What States Require A Bartending License?

Almost half of all US states require would-be bartenders to hold a state-issued bartending license. You will be eligible for a certificate if you’re old enough to serve. Even if you’re working in a state where a permit is not required, it is always prudent to obtain one since it gives you leverage over other bartenders.

Newcomers must get certified before bartending, especially if they want long-term careers.

Here’s a quick list of some states where a bartending license is required:

  • Washington: Requires Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) Permit
  • Oregon: Requires Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) Permit
  • Arizona: Requires Arizona Alcohol Seller and Server Certification
  • Alaska: Requires Alaska Alcohol Seller Certification
  • New Mexico: Requires Alcohol Server Permit
  • Nevada: Requires Alcohol Education Card

Other states hold more unique laws when it comes to selling alcohol. In Hawaii, for instance, the management of alcohol sales and service is a county subject. Honolulu, for example, has its Liquor commission and asks potential candidates to undergo Server Training and pass its final examination to obtain the Liquor Card.

How to Get a Bartending License Online

While carrying a bartender’s license in most states is mandatory, you don’t need to attend a formal school to get one. Many accredited schools online provide you with the necessary training and certify you as a bartender from the comfort of your home.

Here are some steps to take to get your bartending license:

1. Learn the Laws of your State

If you want your license, you must know the land's laws. Most states primarily have the exact legal requirements with minor differences. However, some states have significantly different codes.

For example, the state of Utah requires you to retake the state-approved licensing exam every twenty-four months, but in the state of Oregon, you need to get your license renewed every five years. Similarly, in many states, you cannot sell alcohol in any capacity before obtaining bartending consent. Still, Michigan gives you sixty days to work as you wait for your permit.

Other differences, such as minimum legal serving age, course dissimilarities, and laws about the handling of alcohol differ too. Therefore, it is vital to understand the exact specifications of the state you want to work in before you sign up for the program.

2. Find an Accredited Online School

Getting online training is affordable, fast, and also convenient. However, you must take care while selecting your online tutor. Many websites offer relevant courses, but very few websites offer accredited courses.

Accredited courses are state-approved courses that fulfill all the requirements of the final exam you must take before getting your permit. Learn2Serve is one such credible online school that covers all your state's licensing requirements and offers an accredited program widely accepted by the authorities concerned.

Designed by veteran educators from the food, beverage, and hospitality industry, the programs at Learn2Serve provide state-specific, comprehensive foundational courses, teaching practical techniques that will help you in your bartending career.

3. Progress through the Course

Once you have selected your course and paid the fees, remember that it is up to you to complete your program in your preferred period. Once you finish the course, you will have to pass a final exam. The certificate will be awarded to you once you pass this exam.

The courses offered will broadly cover the following subjects in any state:

  • Alcohol and its effect on the body
  • Identifying intoxicated customers
  • Preventing disturbances
  • Laws and penalties regarding minors
  • Refusing sale
  • State-specific laws relevant to the liquor
  • Pass the Exam

The last stage in your bartending course is to pass the exam. Different states have passing scores you need to achieve to earn your certificate. In most states, the passing score is 70%. Once you have cleared your final exam, you must print the document and take it to your employer.

How Much a Bartending License is in Each State

As stated before, different states have different requirements in age and procedures before you can get your bartending license (Related Article: How Old Do You Have to Become a Bartender). Moreover, employers can get discounts on their liquor liability insurance if their employees are certified. Most importantly, getting a permit before you find work indicates your dedication to the job.

  1. Select a state you wish to work in as a bartender
  2. Double-check the state requirements (See table below)
  3. Enroll in an online bartending license class depending on your desired state

Alabama (AL)

The Responsible Vendor Program (RVP) was implemented by the Alabama ABC Board in October 1990. The program requires the training of all employees involved in the management, sale, or service of alcoholic beverages. Training includes Alabama law regarding the sale or service of alcohol, practical techniques for determining if the customer is of legal age, civil and criminal penalties, and techniques for reducing the risk inherent in the sale/service of alcohol.

Licensees who voluntarily join the program are required to establish policies ensuring legal and responsible sales and service, and to train employees in these policies. For most licensees, participation in the program is voluntary. However, Alabama law requires mandatory participation for on-premises licensees who hold a retail restaurant license (020 license type), and who wish to hire 19- and 20- year old servers and allow those servers to deliver alcohol to customer tables. Otherwise, persons under the age of 21 are prohibited from delivering alcohol to customer tables. 

Alabama Online Alcohol Server Training

Alaska (AK)

The State of Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) is the liquor authority in charge of monitoring and imposing rules on the sales and service of alcoholic beverages in the said jurisdiction. It mandates all servers, supervisors and security persons involved directly in the sales and service of alcoholic beverages to receive the approved alcohol server training within a month of employment date. Individuals must renew their alcohol server training certification every three years.

Liquor license holders are allowed to sell and deliver alcoholic beverages on licensed premises only and should keep proof of their certification while working. Only individuals aged 21 and above can apply for a license from the ABC. Employees who are not licensed to sell or serve alcohol, such as minors, can only dispose of unconsumed alcoholic beverages left at their places of work. They cannot engage in the sales and delivery of alcoholic beverages; otherwise, the establishment could lose its business permit. 

Alaska Alcohol Serve Training Certificate

Arizona (AZ)

The Arizona Department of Liquor License Control may require Title 4 training for applicants, licensees, managers, agents and other employees as provided by A.R.S. 4-112(G)(2). Persons conducting approved training programs shall, for a minimum of two years, retain records of persons who have satisfactorily completed the program.

The record shall include:

  • Name of the person completing the training
  • Date the training was completed
  • Type of training (on-sale, off-sale)
  • The name of the licensee by whom the person is employed (Only if the person is employed by a licensee)

Upon satisfactory completion of training, the trainer shall present a certificate of completion to the trainee. The certificate shall list the information required by subsection (G)(1) – (4) of this rule and include the name of the program and the signature of the trainer.

Arizona Liquor License Certification

Arkansas (AK)

In order to qualify for certification, the permittee shall comply with the following requirements: · Attend a course of instruction approved and certified by the Board which shall include subjects dealing with alcoholic beverages as follows: o -Education on the dangers of drinking and driving; o -State laws regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption or for off-premises consumption, or both; o -Methods of recognizing and dealing with underage customers; · Require each employee who is authorized to sell alcoholic beverages in the normal course of his or her employment to complete the responsible permittee training course set out in Subsection (1) of this Section within thirty (30) days of commencing employment; and Any applicant seeking to become a program provider under the Responsible Permittee Program must submit to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board a course curriculum that shows how the applicant meets the requirements of Section 6.5(1) of these Regulations. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will send the applicant written notification of certification approval or denial. A list of the program providers approved by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board under the Responsible Permittee program shall be maintained by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division and made available upon request by any permittee. (Adopted 8-19-93)

Arkansas Alcohol Server Certification

California (CA)

This course is approved by The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), is valid for two years, and will satisfy all certification requirements in the State of California.

California Alcohol Certification Online

Colorado (CO)

Please visit Colorado’s Requirements here

Online Colorado Alcohol Server Training

Connecticut (CT)

Sec. 30-47 of Connecticut’s Liquor Control Act states: (b) The Commissioner of Consumer Protection may, in his or her discretion, require a permittee who has had his or her permit for the sale of alcoholic liquor suspended or revoked pursuant to subsection (a) of this section to have such permittee’s employees participate in an alcohol seller and server training program approved by the commissioner. The commissioner may require proof of completion of the program from the permittee prior to reactivation or re-issuance of such a permit. (c) In lieu of suspending or revoking a permit for the sale of alcoholic liquor pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the commissioner may require a permittee to have such permittee’s employees participate in an alcohol seller and server training program.  

Connecticut Online Alcohol Server Certification

Delaware (DE)N/A

Delaware Alcohol Server Training

Florida (FL)

There are no present requirements for this industry. The Learn2Serve Alcohol Seller/Server program is approved for use in Florida per The Responsible Vendor Act. This course may be taken for insurance purposes as instructed by your employer.

Florida Alcohol Certification Online

Georgia (GA)

Taken from Georgia Department of Revenue Frequently Asked Questions: While it is highly encouraged, Georgia does not require Responsible Alcohol Service, Server / Seller or Owner / Manager training as a part of its alcohol-licensing program. Georgia does not approve, recommend or endorse any particular training regimen or program. Businesses are free to choose, adopt, or develop a training program with which they are comfortable. For more FAQ’s click this link: Alcohol Server Certification

Hawaii (HI)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

Hawaii Alcohol Server Online Certification

Idaho (ID)

City of Boise: All alcohol servers in the City of Boise, Idaho must complete an approved alcohol training course within 60 days of hire. Certificates are valid for a period of three years from the certification date. Non-compliance could result in up to $1,000 in fines and/or six months in jail. Learn2Serve is an approved provider of this mandatory training.

The State of Idaho: There are presently no state requirements for this industry. Regulations by the state of Idaho: Boise City Code 5-07 requires all servers (waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and managers of waiters, waitresses and bartenders) of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, spirits, liquor, and any beverage containing alcohol) to complete an approved server training program. A copy of the ordinance may be found on the City of Boise website at: Alcohol License Certification

Illinois (IL)

The course must be BASSET approved Responsible Agency – Illinois Liquor Control Commission

Illinois – City of Chicago Course must be approved by City of Chicago and BASSET certified Re-certification Requirements – Every 3 years Responsible Agency – Mayor’s Local Liquor Control Commission.

Indiana (IN)

There are no present requirements for this industry.

Indiana Alcohol Server Certification

Iowa (IA)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

Iowa ABD Alcohol Training and Certification

Kansas (KS)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

Kansas Alcohol Permit and Training

Kentucky (KY)


Louisiana (LA)


Louisiana Alcohol Server Permit ATC Approved

Maryland (MD)

There are no present requirements for this industry.

Maryland Online Alcohol Server Certification

Maine (ME)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this Jurisdiction.

Maine Alcohol Server License

Michigan (MI)

Alcohol servers and sellers should be 18 years old and above; · Any employee who is directly involved with the sales and delivery of alcoholic beverages should obtain an alcohol seller/server certification within 60 days of hire; · Employees who have obtained an alcohol/seller certification must keep their proof of certification with them at all times on work premises; · Sellers/server must get certified as long as their responsible vendor designation’s license remains active.

Michigan Alcohol Server Certification

Minnesota (MN)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

Minnesota Alcohol Server Training

Mississippi (MS)

There are no present requirements for this industry.

Mississippi Alcohol Server Permit

Missouri (MO)

Responsible Server Training is recommended, but not required. The Missouri Division of Alcohol & Tobacco Control holds monthly training sessions open to the public at local field offices. 

Montana (MT)

Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training is recommended, but not required. The Montana Department of Revenue provides server training along with other ‘pre-approved’ training providers. 

Get Montana Alcohol Server Training

Nebraska (NE)

Currently, the state of Nebraska has no mandatory training requirements

Nebraska Alcohol Permit and Training

Nevada (NV)

Alcohol Awareness Training required in Nevada Counties With a Population of 100,000 or more.

New Hampshire (NH)

Managers of establishments that sell or serve liquor are required to hold a valid certificate of attendance from a management training seminar, not more than 45 days prior to the issuance of the liquor license.

New Hampshire Liquor License Training

New Jersey (NJ)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

New Jersey Alcohol Permit

New Mexico (NM)


New Mexico Alcohol Server License Online

New York (NY)

The New York State Liquor Authority will consider training a mitigating factor if, at the time of violation, the person who committed violation held a valid certificate of completion or renewal from a certified alcohol training awareness program provider and the licensee diligently implemented and complied with training program. Learn2Serve’s Alcohol Seller/Server On & Off Training is approved through the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association and will serve as a valid training certificate for the awareness program.

New York ATAP Certification Course

North Carolina (NC)

Effective January 1, 2008, ALL applicants applying for temporary retail ABC permits will be required to provide proof of Responsible Alcohol Seller/Server training PRIOR to obtaining a temporary ABC permit. If the applicant is representing a corporate chain, the corporation will be required to provide to the Commission a copy of its alcohol training manual “minimum course content requirements.”

If the applicant is an individual, the applicant will be required to provide proof of training. Acceptable proof of training may be in the form of a certificate of training, transcript or other document provided by the course provider or corporate permittee. In the event the course provider did not issue a document reflecting completion of training, the applicant may have the course provider sign a form provided by the ABC Commission attesting to completion of this training. For more information click the link below:

North Carolina ABC Permit Training Course

North Dakota (ND)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

North Dakota Alcohol Server Training

Ohio (OH)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

Ohio Alcohol Server License and Training

Oklahoma (OK)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

Oklahoma Alcohol License Training

Oregon (OR)

Effective January 2, 2010, an Alcohol Service Permit is valid for 5 (five) years after one has taken the Alcohol Server course and passed the exam. Students must have a score of 70% or higher to pass. More than 98% of students pass the test the first time they take it. Students who take the training and fail the first time may retake the exam two more times. If they fail the 2nd retake, they need to retake the alcohol server training class. Alcohol servers need to retake an alcohol server training class every 5 (five) years and pass the exam (70% or higher). You can do these two ways: a. Retake the original course b.

Take a short Renewal Course if you qualify Anyone who has passed a server education class within the past 7 (seven) years can opt to take a renewal course – regardless of whether your permit has expired or you’ve been out of the industry for a few years. If you passed your initial class within 7 (seven) years, you qualify. If it has been more than seven years (i.e. 7 years and one day) since you passed your last alcohol server education class, you don’t qualify. Please visit the Oregon Liquor Control Commission website for more information.

Oregon OLCC Permit Training

Pennsylvania (PA)


Pennsylvania RAMP Training Certification

Rhode Island (RI)

RI General Laws require certain individuals to successfully complete an alcohol server training program. For more information click here

Rhode Island Alcohol Server Online Certification

South Carolina (SC)

There are no present requirements for this industry.

South Carolina Liquor License Training

South Dakota (SD)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

South Dakota Alcohol Server Training

Tennessee (TN)


Tennessee ABC Alcohol Server Permit Training

Texas (TX)


Texas TABC Certification Online

Utah (UT)


Utah Alcohol Bartending Training

Vermont (VT)

“Each licensee shall ensure that every employee who is involved in the sale or serving of alcohol beverages completes a training program approved by the department of liquor control before the employee begins serving or selling alcoholic beverages and at least once every 24 months thereafter.”  

Virginia (VA)

It is recommended and highly encouraged in Virginia that sellers and servers of alcohol take some sort of responsible server training program, but it is not mandatory. For more information please click the link below:  

Virginia ABC License Training

Washington (WA)

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is in charge of regulating the activities in relation to the sales and service of alcohol in the state. It mandates on-premise alcohol servers to complete the Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) course program online within 60 days of employment date. There are two types of permits in the State of Washington: Class 12 – Are intended for 21 years old and older. The permit allows individuals to draw alcoholic beverages from the tap and mix drinks; take orders for alcoholic beverages and serve them; hold beer and wine tasting at a grocery store, and manage the establishment (with one Class 12 permit holder on duty). Class 13 – Are intended for employees 18 years old and older. The permit allows employees to take alcoholic beverages orders and deliver the beverage to the customer’s tables. It limits the employee’s action to serving the alcohol only. Permit holders are eligible to upgrade to a Class 12 permit once they turn 21.

Learn2Serve's course satisfies the requirements for obtaining a Washington state alcohol permit. Once you finish our course, we will be the one to report your course completion to the WSLCB so you can receive your MAST permit in the mail within 30 days. The permit is good for five years and should be kept during work hours. If you’ve lost your certification, you can simply call and our 24/7 customer support would guide you through the process. You can also log on to your virtual university account to have the certification printed. Lost permits, on the other hand, have to be requested directly from the Washington State Liquor Board. For further information, visit the Licensing Services page of the Washington State Liquor Board’s website.

Washington Liquor License Training

West Virginia (WV)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

West Virginia ABCA Alcohol Server Permit

Wisconsin (WI)

Applicants for operator’s (“bartending”) licenses are required to complete an approved responsible beverage server training course unless: The person is renewing a retail or an operator’s (bartender’s/sales clerks) license. The person was agent within the past two years of a corporation that held a Class A beer, Class B beer, Class A liquor, Class B liquor, or Class C wine license. The person held a retail license or an operator’s or manager’s license during the past two years. The person completed such a course within the past two years.

Wisconsin Bartending License Online

Wyoming (WY)

There are no requirements for Responsible Server Training in this jurisdiction.

Wyoming Alcohol Server License Online

After Getting Your Bartender Certificate

Once you have your license, you can work anywhere in the state you are licensed. And as mentioned earlier, since bartending is a growing business, you will have no trouble finding a job if you meet all the prerequisites.

Here is a list of five states that offer the best opportunities for a bartender:

  1. Nevada
  2. South Carolina
  3. New Jersey
  4. Florida
  5. California

Not only do these states attract large numbers of tourists, but they also offer a better standard of living for people who work there. Las Vegas, with its huge gambling industry, is one of the biggest local and international tourist attractions in the country.

With a booming alcohol market, the average salary of a bartender in the city is around $29,130 with affordable housing, where you can rent a studio apartment for less than $1000.

The United States has some of the most attractive cities in the world for bartending. To reap all the benefits that come with bartending, all you need to do is get your license and enjoy your lucrative new career.

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