NOTE: California does not require a bartender license. What you will receive when attending Professional Bartending School classes is your certificate of completion of mastering bartending basics as well as job placement assistance.

Over the past few years, bartending has evolved from a side-hustle or side-gig to make extra cash into a full-time profession. According to a recent study, bartending as a job has a job growth rate of 2.5 percent, and the average annual salary is around $24,000. As fun as mixing drinks for a living already sounds, it looks like one can earn good pay from it as well.

Many people who want to become bartenders wonder what it would take them to work as a bartender or whether they will need a license. The truth is, you do not need a license to work as a bartender. You may need to attend a bartending school, get a certificate, take the compulsory alcohol selling course, and get the certificate too. Although, you may require a license to work as a bartender in some states but not every state requires bartenders to have a bartending license. Many establishments only ask that their bartenders have licenses to ensure that they know the basics about bartending before attending to customers.

Getting a bartending license is great, and you sure have nothing to lose, but there is no hard and fast rule to it. But if you are planning to take up a career in bartending and you would like to get a license, but you do not know where to start, we have all the answers to your concern. Continue reading to know all you should about becoming a bartender and a licensed bartender.


Some states require bartenders to have municipal or state-issued certification to sell alcohol. The purpose of this certification is to show that as a bartender, you have passed every state approved courses, and you understand all the laws around the sales of alcohol. Licensing obligations in different states are not the same. Each state has its own course and prerequisites. Some states make it compulsory for you to have a license before you can work as a bartender while some give you the grace of 180 days during which you much obtain the license. The alcohol sale certification course introduces you to all the state laws and the best practices about selling alcohol.


Not all the states in the United States of America require all bartenders to have licenses but the ones that do make it mandatory. Usually, if you are old enough to serve as a bartender, you are eligible to apply for a bartending license. Even if the state you work does not require you to have a license, taking a course to get a license teaches you the best drink mixing practices, gives you proper training about handling a bar, teach you the responsibilities of working as a bartender and prepares you for the job. Having a bartending license helps set you apart from a lot of other bartenders applying for the same job position who probably do not have a license.

As a newcomer fresh out of bartending school, getting certified is vital if you want to be at the job on a long-term basis.

Check out some of the states that require a bartending license and the specific type of license they require;

  • Washington: Mandatory Alcohol Server Training Permit
  • Oregon: Oregon Liquor Control Commission Permit
  • Arizona: Arizona Alcohol Seller and Server Certification
  • Alaska: Alaska Alcohol Seller Certification
  • Nevada: Alcohol Education Card
  • New Mexico: Alcohol Server Permit


A bartending license is extremely easy to get and does not require attending a formal school to get one. You can get your license from an accredited online school that can equip you with the training you need and make you a certified bartender without your physical presence. Below are some of the steps to take;

  • Know your state’s laws

Before proceeding to get your bartending license, you should learn all the laws of your state. The laws in every state are somewhat similar except for some slight differences. Therefore, it is important that you know what the laws in your state specify before you sign up for a bartending license program. For instance, if you are getting your license in the state of Utah, you must renew your license every two years while the state of Oregon requires renewal every five years. Some states also require you to have your license before you can sell alcohol in any form or capacity while states like the state of Michigan gives you a grace of sixty days to secure your license.

  • Look for an accredited school

Whether you are getting your training online or in a physical school, you have to choose carefully. Online training is more convenient, fast, and affordable, but you have to ensure that the courses you are signing up for are duly accredited. Accredited courses are the courses which the state has approved to fulfill all the requirements of the qualifying final exam you must take to get your license.

  • See the course through.

After you have chosen the institution and the courses you would like to take and signed up, note that the rest lies in your hands. You should devote time to complete the program, study, and pass a final exam. You must pass this final exam for the license certificate to be awarded to you.
Most bartending license courses cover the following subjects;

  • Alcohol and how it affects the body.
  • How to identify intoxicated customers.
  • Laws and penalties for minors.
  • Refusing the sale of alcohol.
  • Applicable liquor laws specific to various states.

The last stage is to pass the final exams. Usually, the passing score in most states is 70 percent, and once you have crossed this score, you just have to print the result and take it to your employer.


Once you have your bartending license, you can work anywhere in the state that you got your license. As we mentioned earlier, bartending has become a highly sought-after position, so if you meet all the prerequisites for getting hired, you will get a job.




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