Drink Magazine

Do You Need a Bartending License Or Certificate to Bartend?

By Therealbarman @TheRealBarman

Do You Need a Bartending License or Certificate to Bartend?

Whenever someone who is trying to become a bartender asks me "Do I need a bartending license to bartend?", I can't help but think of some official government worker, like an ABC (The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) agent walking up to the bar in a long trench coat and fedora and gruffly barking at the bartender, "Let me see your license, punk!"

And then the bartender would have to dip into his wallet or her purse to find their license to prove they have the right to be behind the bar serving drinks. If they couldn't find it for one reason or another, the ABC officer would ask them to lay on the ground with their hands behind their head so he could handcuff them and take them away for practicing mixology without a license.

I make light of this situation because the answer is a resounding "NO". You do not need a bartending license or certificate in order to become a bartender.

Except when you do...

Allow me to explain. Perhaps you came from where you already watched the video that answers this question, but for those of you who stumbled across my blog, I will elaborate (or you can watch the video right here).

The fact is, you do not need a bartender license or certificate to become a bartender like you might need a license to practice medicine or get a driver's license. There is no required course that teaches you the skills and knowledge of bartending.

To acquire the necessary skills, you need a school or course or flat out get lucky and get hired so you can jump behind the bar (which is best). Then you can learn cool things like pouring and mixing and how to multitask.

In fact, you can check out some of these cool lesson right here:

5 Most Asked Bartender Interview Questions

On the other hand, in about half the states and some countries, it is required that you get certified for alcohol awareness training. You'll notice in the chart below that Canada is very similar to the United States in that some areas require it, while others don't.

The rest of the world appears far less concerned with how wasted their patrons get, at least in Europe. I don't have requirements for all the countries.

The alcohol awareness class is similar to the food handlers card some states require all servers, bartenders and cooks to acquire in order to work in a restaurant so that the staff prepares, handles and stores the food properly.

And stop groaning if your state requires an alcohol awareness certification to become a bartender. It's a good thing. They teach what alcohol does to the body, how to avoid selling to minors and over-intoxicated people, as well as the alcohol laws in your state.

Plus, it's easy, you can take it on line...and cheap (like $12).

Now when it comes to your resume, this is not like trying to use a bartending school as a reference. The alcohol certification course actually looks good on a bartender resume, even if (in fact especially if) your state doesn't require it. It shows responsibility and foresight, to look ahead and prepare for what the job requires.

In other words, being proactive instead of reactive.

So check the chart below to see whether your state/country requires the bartender certification or not, and even if it doesn't, I would recommend taking it anyway. The hiring manager will be impressed.

In addition to whether your state/country requires alcohol awareness certification, I have included the minimum age to bartend in each location. That whole two birds, one rock thing.

Below you can click on one of the main websites called Seller Server Online and it will basically read your IP address and know what state you're in, so it will bring up the home page of your state.

Click Here for the SellerServerOnline Website

Then make sure to check the chart below to find your state or country.

And don't forget...

If you REALLY want to become a bartender...


United States

Other Countries

Cheers, see you next time.


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