Starting a restaurant or a bar is no easy feat. There are so many factors that should be given considerable thought before opening your doors to guests. If your restaurant or café will be serving alcoholic beverages or cocktails mixes, you would most likely need the services of a bartender (or to tend the bar yourself, if you’re an overachiever). 

In any case, you’ll need a bartending license to operate legally. We’ll walk you through the key steps needed to obtain your license, here:

How to Get a Bartending License in 6 Steps

  1. Find out if your city requires a bartending license. 

First things first; you need to seek out your local requirements. Different states may require different certifications for those looking to become a bartender. You can find out which state or city requires you to be licensed, and how to achieve that licensing, here.

  1. Meet the age requirement. 

In order to be eligible to tend bars, you must meet the minimum age requirement in the city or state you want to operate in. The minimum age requirement in some states is 18, while others may need you to be 21. You can find out your area’s age requirement here

  1. Attend a bartending school. 

Many states require you to secure sufficient bartending training from a reputable source. These training usually cover topics such as identifying club drugs and substances, alcohol and its effects on the body, laws and penalties regarding minors, refusing sale, ID card screening, better communication, and how to improve tips. 

These bartending schools or online courses must be approved by the state Department of Revenue or another authorized body. While in-person bartending schools typically charge between $250 – $500, online courses can cost anywhere from $100 and $150. Most bartending courses (whether online or offline) will conduct an assessment at the completion of the course.

You can find a list of bartending schools here

  1. Pass and print your bartending license. 

Woohoo! You’re done with your course and have passed! Well, it’s not time to celebrate just yet. So pause on that drink you have ready to pour and keep reading.

After completing your in-person or online bartending course, you may be able to print your licensed bartending certificate online. You could also opt to receive a permanent certification in the mail within 5 working days

If you attend a local bartending school, you can expect to receive your license immediately after completing any necessary trainings and exams. 

  1. Apply to receive a state bartending certification. 

When all is said and done in your individual bartending course, you will most likely need to apply for your state-specific certification. This requires you to file paperwork (including your newly-received license) and pay any required fees. In some cases, your course training instructor may also need to submit a reference on your behalf.  

  1. Present your license. 

Congrats! Now that you’ve got all of your ducks in a row, you can present your credentials to your place of employment (or aspiring place of employment). Better yet, if you own the bar, you can hang your certificates proudly in your office. 

There you have it. Getting your bartending license is not as difficult as you may have thought. With these tips, you can get your license in a jiffy.

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