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

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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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, it is mandatory for you to 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 so that you 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. If you’re old enough to serve, you will be eligible for a certificate. Even if you’re working in a state where a license is not required, it is always prudent to obtain one since it gives you leverage over other bartenders.

It is important for newcomers to get certified before they start working as a bartender, 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 the state of Hawaii, for instance, the management of alcohol sales and service is a county subject. Honolulu, for example, has its own Liquor commission and asks potential candidates to undergo Server Training and pass its final examination to obtain the Liquor Card.

Bartender License Courses



How to Get a Bartending License Online

While it is mandatory to carry a bartender’s license in most states, you don’t need to attend a formal school to get one. There are many accredited schools online that 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 have to know the laws of the land. Most states primarily have the same legal requirements with minor differences. However, there are some states that 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 a bartending license, but the state of Michigan gives you sixty days where you can work as you wait for your permit.

Other differences such as minimum legal serving age, courses dissimilarities, and laws pertaining to 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. There are many websites that offer relevant courses, but there are very few websites that actually offer accredited courses.

Accredited courses are state-approved courses that fulfill all the requirements of the final exam you need to take before getting your permit. Learn2Serve is one such credible online school that covers all the licensing requirements of your state and offers an accredited program widely accepted by 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 time 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 different passing scores which you need to achieve to earn your certificate. In most states, the passing score is 70%. Once you have cleared your final exam, all you have to do is print the document and take it to your employer.

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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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