In Iowa there aren’t any state regulations in place that require a server or bartender to be licensed in order to sell alcohol.
Some employers, however, will require bartenders to complete such certifications regardless of state or city laws.
The reason restaurants and bars may require licensing is because if their employees are licensed it can reduce their costs of insurance and/or limit their liability in case of a legal issue. Therefore, it is highly likely that you will be required to obtain alcohol training regardless of state law.
Continue reading for suggestions on bartending license course providers and training.
This post was updated on August 22, 2023.
Iowa’s I-Pact Training
Although the state of Iowa does not require alcohol handlers to be licensed, they still provide a training program that they suggest sellers and servers to complete. This course, known as the Iowa Program for Alcohol Compliance Training (I-PACT), allows individuals to receive alcohol compliance training and receive a certificate at completion.
In our experience, almost every bar or restaurant will require employees to receive an I-PACT certification in order to limit their own liability. For example, if a server who is I-PACT certified sells alcohol to a minor (under the age of 21 but over 18), the business may avoid prosecution.
The good news is that the I-PACT is completely free. All you have to do is go to the I-PACT website here and register to take the training. The course is simple and should only take ~90 minutes to complete. Once you complete it you will receive a certification that is valid for 2 years.
Supplementary Bartending Training Providers in Iowa
While I-PACT training is absolutely free, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division also suggests that sellers and servers of alcohol receive further supplementary training.
Although the state of Iowa does not have any bartending license requirements, it still may be in your best interest to receive proper bartending training.
Online courses will always provide certificates proving that you have a basic understanding of bartending. They’re great for the resume, will help give you a leg-up on the competition when applying, and will ultimately help you get employed.
Our suggestion: Take the highly popular bartending training course provided by Serving Alcohol. It’s 100% online, cheap, and in our experience has been shown to make resumés stand out from the competition. Learn more here.
Minimum Age To Serve Alcoholic Beverages In Iowa:
On July 1, 2023, the laws around he minimum age to serve alcohol in Iowa changed significantly and in some respects became a bit more confusing. But, we are here to walk you through everything.
First and foremost, if you are at least 18 years old, you can sell or serve alcohol anywhere in the state of Iowa. If you are under 18, continue reading.
Current Iowa law states that restaurants can employ individuals that are 16- or 17-years-old as long as they work in a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption during the hours that the restaurant serves food.
This is opposed to a bar, where food service is “only incidental to the consumption of [alcoholic] beverages.” In order to sell or serve alcoholic beverages at a bar, you must be 18 years old.
Note: A bar that serves snacks (think: peanuts, olives, popcorn, etc) does not count as a restaurant.
Where this can become confusing is in situations where a location has a restaurant and a separate bar, such as a golf course. As long as food is cooked, assembled, and served where there is also the sale of alcohol, it counts as a restaurant. With that being said, in situations such as this example we suggest confirming with your potential employer.
Furthermore, the restaurant must:
- have explicit consent from the “16- or 17-year-old’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian” that they may serve or sell alcoholic beverages.
- have at least two employees who are 18 years of age or older physically present (and able to see) where a 16- or 17-year-old employee is selling or serving alcohol.
Other Requirements That May Be Helpful:
- Driver’s License or Passport
- Good Communication Skills
- Non-slip Bartending Shoes
- Knowledge of basic drink recipes