In Pennsylvania, according to Act 39 of 2016, anyone who sells or serves alcoholic beverages at a licensed establishment must complete RAMP server/seller training within six (6) months of being hired.
This includes anyone who checks IDs – including bartenders, waiters, beer distributor salespersons, bouncers, door-persons, and hostesses.
All alcohol service personnel must complete RAMP server/seller training within six months of being hired by a licensee, unless the person had successfully completed said training prior to being hired. [47 P.S. § 4-471.1(h)]. “Alcohol service personnel” is defined as any employee of a licensee such as a bartender, waiter or, in the case of a distributor or importing distributor, a salesperson whose primary responsibility includes the resale, furnishing or serving of liquor or malt or brewed beverages. It also means any employee, such as a doorperson, whose primary responsibility is to ascertain the age of individuals who are attempting to enter the licensed premises. [47 P.S. § 1-102].Summary of Act 39 of 2016; Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
To sum it up, in Pennsylvania, if you are looking to become a bartender – or want to work in any capacity on an alcohol service staff – you must obtain a RAMP server/selling certificate within 180 days (6 months) of employment. Failure to do so can result in a citation by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.
Note: Training in RAMP is not required for those who have previously completed the RAMP server/seller course before their employment. Thus, if you’re transitioning between jobs and have already undergone the RAMP training, there’s no need to retake it.
For your convenience, in the following post, we’ll walk you through the entire training process.
What is the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP)?
To ensure that all bars and restaurants serve alcohol responsibly, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) introduced the RAMP certification. Think of it as the state’s official guide to mastering the art of responsible alcohol service.
At its core, RAMP certification is a comprehensive program designed for every liquor-licensed establishment in Pennsylvania. But let’s break it down a bit:
To be RAMP certified, an establishment needs to tick off all of the following five components:
- Owner/ Manager Training: This training focuses on those most responsible for determining daily operations and policies of the licensed establishment
- Server/ Selling Training: This training is probably the one you’re most curious about as a bartender; more details about this are below
- New Employee Orientation: This should be provided on behalf of management to each new member of the alcohol service staff within 30 days of hire
- Signage: The right signs in the right places
- Affidavit Request for RAMP Certification: The final stamp of approval
If you’re here simply to learn how to become a bartender in Pennsylvania, all you really need to worry about is the Server/Selling Training (see next section). But it’s good to be aware that there’s a whole system behind the scenes. Owners and managers, for instance, have their specialized training to ensure they’re on the same page.
For owners/managers, go here for more information about the RAMP Certification.
RAMP Seller/Server Training
The defacto “bartending license” that’s required in the state of Pennsylvania is known as the RAMP Seller/Server Training.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The training is mandatory for bartenders or anyone serving, selling, mixing drinks, or checking IDs.
- Topics covered include detecting fake IDs, identifying signs of intoxication, and managing patrons responsibly.
- At the end of the training, a course exam is administered. A score of 80% or better is required to pass.
- Server/Seller training programs come with a cost. While the fee varies depending on your training provider, you can expect the course to cost you anywhere between $10-$30.
How to Get Trained:
There are three ways to access RAMP Server/Selling training.
- Online (recommended)
- For online providers, we suggest the course from ServingAlcohol.com. Click here for a special discounted price.
- Scheduled classroom sessions upon registering for PLCB+
- Training sessions can also be arranged directly with approved instructors.
It’s important to note that you can’t just take any online bartending course. You must take a course that has been pre-approved by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
For your convenience, here’s a list of all PLCB RAMP-approved Server/Seller training programs as of April 1, 2023.
📌 Tip: If you’re here just to knock out a training program quickly (because you have to!), we suggest taking it online from the comfort of your own home. It’s arguably the easiest (and quickest) option. No registering for PCLB+, no scheduling needed, and you won’t have to drive anywhere. This course from ServingAlcohol is what we suggest. Plus, it comes with a discounted rate of just $10.99.
Minimum Age To Serve Alcoholic Beverages In Pennsylvania:
Navigating the age requirements for working in alcohol-serving establishments can be a bit intricate. Here’s a clear breakdown for aspiring bartenders and servers in Pennsylvania:
The minimum age is 18. If you’re 18 or older, you can be employed to serve or dispense alcohol in a licensed establishment. (Reference: 47 P.S. § 4-493(13)).
16 and 17-year-olds: They can work in retail licensed premises but with restrictions. Their duties can include serving food, clearing tables, and other similar tasks. They can carry empty or partially full alcoholic beverages that remain on tables they’re clearing. However, they cannot dispense or serve alcoholic drinks.
Under 16: Generally, individuals under 16 cannot be employed in retail licensed premises. Exceptions exist for certain venues like ski resorts, golf courses, amusement parks, and continuing care facilities. These are narrow exceptions, so it’s essential to confirm the specifics with your employer before proceeding.
Other Requirements That May Be Helpful:
- Driver’s License or Passport
- Good Communication Skills
- Knowledge of basic drink recipes
For more information, please contact your local City Clerk’s office.