Young cute smiling bartender serving beer in a glass

How to Get Your Bartending License or Certification by State

Can I Get a Bartending License and Certification Online?

Depending on where you live, earning a bartending license is the first step to launching your professional bartending career. A bartending course will teach you everything you need to know to responsibly handle and serve alcohol in accordance with your state’s rules and regulations. On top of that, you will gain fundamental knowledge to help you land a job and start earning.

You can get a bartending license online or in person. With such flexible options, along with a variety of other training programs to choose from, anyone who wants to start learning or brush up on their bartending skills can do so with ease and at their own pace.

Before you take the next step, it’s important to clarify the most common misconceptions you may have about obtaining a bartending license or certification. At the end of this article, you should be able to:

  • Learn whether or not a bartending license is required in your state
  • Differentiate between a bartending license and certification; and
  • Understand the benefits of earning a bartending license and certification

What is a bartending license?

A bartending license is a blanket term that refers to a permit, certificate, or license given to an individual upon completing a state-certified liquor-serving program.

These programs are referred to uniquely in each state that authorizes them. For example, New York offers an Alcohol Training Awareness Program; meanwhile, California provides a Responsible Beverage Service Alcohol Server/Seller Certification.

Do you need a license to be a bartender?Serving Alcohol Wallet Card

The quick answer is it depends on the state where you live but most establishments still prefer hires who have completed related courses. 

State certifications on liquor serving don’t test your proficiency in mixology. The main focus is to educate you about serving alcohol responsibly and within the limits of the law including other practical tips like how to spot fake IDs or how to tell when someone is way over his or her alcohol limit (alcohol poisoning).

Going through an Online Bartending License Program shouldn’t take you more than a day to finish. In most cases, the whole session can be completed in 3-4 hours.

Bartending License vs. Certification: What’s the Difference?

A bartending certificate is a completion document awarded by training providers and training programs to individuals who finish their bartending certification programs. They are not mandated by the state.

A bartending license, on the other hand, is a legal document that is required upon employment within states where they are required by law.

Bartending certification programs vary widely in their offerings. There are courses to help you get more tips, teach you techniques and mixology tricks, and even those which provide in-depth knowledge on the history of some drinks and mixing recipes.

You don’t need a bartending certificate to get your alcohol serving license but some certification programs require their students to have a license first before they can enter the program. And yes, certification programs on liquor serving can be found and completed online too!

Is a bartending license required in my state?

Not all states require you to have a bartender’s license to be a bartender but it’s still great to have one when hiring is competitive. The practices you learn from the program are useful, practical, and not to mention can effectively beef up your resume. Still, the businesses themselves may ask you to complete the training program as part of their liability prevention measures.

So, is a bartender license required in your state? The table below shows you a quick breakdown.


Bartender license certification online in the US

Why should I get a bartending certification?

Whether you simply want to impress your friends or are looking for new adventures in a fun and exciting career, a bartender certification will surely spice up your skills and earn you some bragging rights.

But more than that, there are some serious benefits to earning your bartender certification right now.

It’s a great networking opportunity. You get to meet people with similar interests who can help you improve your craft and even land some awesome gigs.

  • You learn from an expert. Yes, practice makes perfect but learning the craft from someone who has valuable experience helps you learn the basics right and avoid picking up bad habits.
  • By showing that you are willing to put the time, money, and effort into mastering your craft, you demonstrate your commitment in whatever it is you do. You’re also giving yourself an edge over the competition.
  • It helps you update and upgrade your skills. The diversity of bartending courses offered in-person or online gives a wealth of opportunities for you to always stay in the loop on what’s new.

How to get a bartending license and certification online

Jumpstart your bartending career by earning your license and certification from a reputable bartending certification program provider. Serving Alcohol Inc. goes beyond the basics of alcohol awareness and carding techniques to deliver everything you need to know as an alcohol seller-server in your state.

With over 35 years of experience in teaching alcohol certification principles, our recommended Alcohol Certification Training course offers in-depth knowledge that is easy to follow and understand.


Serving Alcohol’s online bartending license and certification programs offer:

  • Online interactive and self-paced training
  • 100% Pass Guarantee or get your money back
  • 24/7 Customer Support


Check out Our Courses today or click on your state on the sidebar to learn more about the program details specific for that state.