So, you’ve decided you want to enter the exciting world of bartending and are searching for the perfect job behind the bar! 

You’ve been busy sending out applications, but aren’t sure whether or not you need a bartending license in order to proceed. This post will clear up all your questions and doubts. 

What is a bartending license? 

A bartending license is a certification that is issued to prospective bartenders that wish to serve alcoholic beverages in certain states. The purpose of this license is to prove that the bartender has completed the necessary training regarding the sale and service of alcohol. It is not bartender certification, which allows you to be trained in bartending but not legally allowed to serve alcohol. 

Some topics one could expect to encounter in their licensing training include state-specific liquor laws, how to identify intoxicated customers, when to refuse sale, and general information about alcoholic beverages and their bodily affects.

Bartender license at state level

Just as every state has its own minimum legal age to sell alcohol (in many states its 18 instead of 21), the topic of licensing is widely varied. Some locations may require only an educational card or permit, while others have more extensive service training. 

For example, in Wisconsin a license is provided upon completion of a training course on responsible beverage service. On the other hand, in Oregon an Oregan Liquor Control Commission Permit is required, but in Nevada an alcohol education card satisfies the license requirements for the state. To take a final example, the state of California requires a bartender license approved by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to be valid for two years. As you can see, it's something that really varies state to state, so doing your research is important! 

Of course, if you are old enough to serve alcohol in the state where you are seeking a job, you’ll be eligible to enroll in a bartending licensing program. Let’s check out how you can jumpstart this process. 

How to get a bartending license


If your state happens to be one of the places that requires a bartending license, don’t stress. Fortunately, in most states it is not necessary to attend in-person classes. There are many online programs that make training quick and convenient. A bartending school is not necessary to obtain such a thing and simple Google search can give you local options to obtain the bartender license

The only thing to look out for is that the course is accredited, meaning it fulfills the requirements of your state and will be accepted in the establishments you wish to work. 

Each course varies in length and extensiveness depending on the state and its pre-established rules, but the majority will feature a final exam that is the last step before receiving the bartending license. 

How much is a bartending license? 

Bartending training in EBS Phuket

Surprise, surprise, the cost of a bartending license also varies widely throughout the states and around the world. In the US, if it is a state law, courses can start anywhere around $10 and go up as high as $50.

Additionally, some states may require you to renew your license after a certain amount of time has passed. For example, in Oregan you need to retake the exam every 5 years, whereas in Alaska its every 3 years. 

Benefits of a bartender license

Bartender pouring a drink

The biggest benefit of having a bartending license is knowing that you are equipped with all of the necessary certifications and paperwork needed to pursue a job behind the bar

Not to mention if this is your first bartending gig, it can be extremely helpful to have some additional training and knowledge up your sleeve. In those uncertain situations, you’ll have learned how best to react and which steps to take towards a solution. 

Additionally, your workplace will avoid the possibility of potential fines that could result from non-compliance with state regulations on serving alcohol beverages. All in all, getting your bartending license is undoubtedly worth the little time and effort it takes.

Once you've got your license, you can start learning how to become a bartender! Get the legal stuff out of the way and start learning your new trade... 

Bartender license: FAQs

bartender shaking

Maybe we haven't answered all of your questions yet, so here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the license...

What are the requirements to be a bartender? 

Within the USA, the requirements differ from state to state. Overall, however, a bartender needs to be licensed with official alcohol training granted by the state's regulation board on alcoholic beverages. This can be found easily through online search. Outside of the States regulations and laws may be different. 

How long does it take to get a bartending license? 

A license can be granted in less than 2 weeks. However, courses differ from company to company. It could be as short as 2 days or as long as 2 weeks. 

What do you need to get a bartending license? 

You'll need to pay to complete the bartender license training. Other than a payment, there is no requirement needed to get an official license other than complete the course successfully! 

How long is a bartending license good for? 

This is hard to answer. You must confirm this with your license provider, to get a solid answer. Licenses can last for only 1 year, 2 years or a lifetime. There is a lot of fluctuation in the number all over the USA. 

Sign up to our bartender course, and train in one of our worldwide bartending schools to become professional in just 4 weeks! Our bartending certification is widely respected in the industry, so what you waiting for?