Congratulations on your decision to start your career as a bartender!
You are entering a field that is in high demand, so your chances of getting a job and becoming a bartender are more than excellent!
Bartender requirements vary from state to state. Therefore it’s important to have access to quick and easy information.
Please select your state below to find out whether or not your state requires you to have a bartending license, and if so, where exactly to attend the bartender school.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
A bartender, at its most basic definition, is someone who develops and serves alcoholic beverages from behind a bar. But truly, a bartender’s duties go way beyond this. Whether it’s creating an experience, being a problem solver, or transforming a person’s night – a bartender’s duty is an extremely important one in the service industry.
In the past, being a bartender was seen as a “side-occupation.” Recently though, bartenders are seen as a highly sought out and respected occupation, with pay rates competitive, and often surpassing most jobs.
Bartender Job Description
The job description for a bartender will vary depending on what type of establishment you are applying for.
For example, a bartender in a pub will have different sets of responsibilities than an a bartender in a fine dining restaurant.
Typically, however, the job entails:
- Mixing and pouring drinks
- Counting and handling money correctly
- Communicating and entertaining your guests
- Serving alcohol with care and awareness – recognizing when someone is over the limit
As previously mentioned, the demand for bartenders is extremely high. As long as you meet the qualifications and have completed the proper training (and again, training requirements depend on your geographical location), you have a great chance of getting hired.
Whether it’s a bar looking to hire employees for the nights and weekends, or a restaurant that often needs bartenders every day of the week, your chances of getting hired are excellent.
Be sure to check out our highly popular bartending jobs board, which is creating new jobs for people like you every single day.
Some states require that you first get a license before you seek employment as a bartender.
In Wisconsin, for example, you need a state issued bartending license, which proves that you have passed the mandated requirements to serve alcoholic beverages.
The same goes with the states of Illinois, Florida, and several other states as well.
Other states don’t require a license at all, so it’s best to check using the convenient map above to see if your area needs you to first get a license before seeking employment.
What is a bartending license?
A bartending license is simply a certification proving that an individual adequately understands their state or local municipalities laws regarding the serving of alcohol.
Think of it as a diploma that proves to the state or a potential employer that you understand the intricacies of serving customers alcohol from behind a bar.
Classes may include everything from how to mix drinks properly to understanding how to deal with people attempting to drive drunk, underage drinkers, and aggressive customers in a bar.
Are you required to have a bartending license?
The short answer: it depends.
First and foremost, you need to find out if the state you live in requires a bartending license. Different states have different laws and it is necessary to do a little research. Luckily, you don’t have to go at it alone, we are here to help you along the way. Simply check your state’s bartending license requirements using the handy map above and you’ll have your answer in no time at all.
Tip: Although not every state requires bartenders to be licensed, obtaining a license can prove to an employer that you are dedicated to becoming a bartender and give you a leg up on the competition.
How to get a bartending license?
Each and every state/municipality has different rules and regulations when it comes to becoming a certified bartender.
Some allow for simple online training, whereas others require students to attend in person classes. Again, we suggest using our handy map above to choose your state and learn exactly what you need to do to receive a bartending license.
Online Bartending Training
Many municipalities/states allow one to take training online, however these are usually the most basic, entry-level courses. This can be a convenient way to, in the comfort of your own home, pass the exam necessary in order to obtain your license which will then allow you to get a job.
Again, it depends on where you live, because online courses aren’t always accepted. Make sure that if you do live in a state that allows online training, that it’s from a state-certified program that will give you what you need to proceed.
Online vs offline bartending training
As with most online courses, online bartending schools give you the ability to complete or study most of the curriculum on your own time, at your own convenience. So for those who already have a busy weekly schedule, online bartending training may be your best bet. Study at your own pace and earn a bartending certificate from the comfort of your own home. It’s that simple. Another benefit of online bartending training? It usually costs less. That’s right, in-person bartending courses are known to cost $50-100 more.
On the other hand, online bartending training isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can efficiently conceptualize practices all on their own. From years of experience, we’ve noted that in-person bartending courses often teach the same exact material as online bartending with the addition of one thing: Hands-on experience.
In-person bartending schools often supply students with the real tools, glassware, and alcohol that they will come to experience on a job. This gives students the ability to practice preparing, mixing and serving drinks all under the guidance and supervision of a professional bartender.
So what’s the verdict? Bartending school—either online or in the classroom—is highly recommended but we slightly lean to the online direction. Online bartending training is often cheaper, easier, and much more time efficient than finding a physical classroom-type course (if your town or city provides one). Although you may not get hands-on experience while taking online bartending courses, you can still learn nearly everything offline bartending courses offer. Want real-life, hands-on experience? Then we suggest practicing at home, or better yet, find a bartending job and hit the ground running in a real-life work environment. Nothing will top the combination of the two.
How much does a bartending license cost?
If your state/municipality requires you to receive a bartending license, the cost most likely will not run more than $10 – 20.
Note: Even if not required, there are hundreds of fake “courses” being sold online. These courses will often retail for hundreds of dollars and try to trick you into thinking that their course is required. We will admit that sometimes bartending courses are useful to a newcomer, but more often than not, they are a scam.
If you decide to take a bartending course or go to bartending school, we suggest reading our post on whether bartending school is right for you.
How long does it take to get a bartending license?
Don’t let the thought of having to take a course dissuade you from becoming a bartender. Most courses take less than a day to complete. Ultimately though, it depends on your states requirements to determine the length of the bartending course.
For example, a TABC certification in Texas requires two hours to complete, whereas courses for the states of Michigan, Florida, and Illinois take less than 3 hours.