The minimum bartending age in the US varies depending on where you live.
Can you bartend at 18?
Each state appoints its authorized agency to regulate laws about producing, selling and distributing alcohol within its borders. That is why even though the national legal drinking age in the US is 21, in some states, individuals who are 18 years of age can legally work behind the bar.
Keep in mind that even when your state allows you to serve alcohol at age 18, businesses can set their hiring qualifications and require bartenders to be at least of legal drinking age. Hiring someone under age 21 is seen as a considerable risk given the nature of the job.
In some cases, certain conditions must be in place for a person under 21 to legally serve alcohol. A typical rule is to have supervising personnel oversee your work. Or, the establishment itself may require you to undergo alcohol awareness training.
How old do you have to be a bartender in every US state?
The minimum bartending age requirement in the United States is different for every state, but the age range is from ages 18 to 21. The table below shows you how old you have to be – at a minimum – to be a bartender in each state.
What states can you be a bartender at 18?
You can bartend at the age of 18 in the following states:
You’re never too old to start a bartending career
Age is just a number when it comes to bartending — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Bartending is a profession that requires skills beyond just memorizing cocktail recipes. A good bartender knows how to competently juggle between relaying orders, mixing drinks, and striking up conversation with customers. To do so requires not just being quick on one’s feet but also applying excellent communication skills.
Having multiple interests is a plus! Many exclusive establishments like high-end hotels and restaurants prefer barkeeps who can keep an interesting conversation to entertain their patrons. And in many places, employers prefer a mature presence who exudes trust and confidence behind the bar.
Anybody can learn how to mix drinks at any age; it’s often personality that counts. So, if you enjoy working in a friendly environment, being a professional bartender can be rewarding in surprising ways.
Take the next step
The minimum age requirement is the only other qualification you will need to launch a career in bartending. Next, of course, to a state-required bartending license (if your state demands it) which you can quickly obtain online.
Getting a bartending license is mandatory in multiple states to be eligible for bartending work. It teaches you everything you need to know to responsibly handle, prepare, and serve alcohol within lawful limits. The whole course only takes 4 hours or less to complete.
If you’re ready to take the next step, check out Serving Alcohol’s recommended, state-certified bartending license courses so you can start earning soon.
Serving Alcohol’s online bartending license course offers:
- Online interactive and self-paced training
- 100% Pass Guarantee or your money back
- 24/7 Customer Support