How Much Does Bartending License Cost?

Have you ever been to a bar and got awestruck by the bartender’s skill of mixing beverages, wines and spirits, besides the bottle-flipping acts that you end up tipping him or her generously?

Well, it took them tremendous perseverance and hard work, not to mention exceptional talents that can sometimes be innate, to be that good. Or sometimes, an investment in a bartending school was involved.

Depending on the state where you live or intend to work, a bartending license may sometimes be required. A bartending license is a certification that an aspiring bartender has attended a state-sanctioned course that teaches local and state laws and regulations regarding alcoholic beverages and that they understand these laws that they are expected to act accordingly.

Average Cost of Bartending License

Average Cost of Bartending License

Costs of bartending certifications vary depending on the state you live or work so determining how much bartending license fee each state may pose a challenge unless you talk to your Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agency. But this still depends if your state would require you to have a license to work as a bartender, as some states do not.

But some of the reported cost of bartending license range from $25 to $50 depending on location and on the bartending school or agency issuing the license. But there are some online schools offering the service at much lower rate nowadays like $9.95 for a course limited to Responsible Serving of Alcohol. It can go as low as $6.95 if your employer enrolls his or her employees in bulk.

The bartending license fee for a full-fledged course can range from $35 to $200 for an online setup, while in-class courses can range anywhere between $200 and $400, but can sometimes be even more.

The online course can be very convenient, aside from being way cheaper. But since bartending requires a lot of training in mixing drinks and also the bartending techniques, you may want to choose the in-class type of training where you can do hands-on and do the real thing. After all, the most effective way to really learn something is by doing it.

Additional Costs

Some states may require you to obtain a food handler’s permit which may cost around $10.
Aside from the liquor aspect of bartending, you may also be required either by your state or your employer to get additional training like food serving and other hospitality related course. offers Food Safety for Handlers course at $4.95 and $6.95 depending on what state.

Factors Affecting Bartending License Fee

State – whether or not you need a license depends on your home state or where your work is located. And those who do also have varying fees depending on the cost of living and demand for the service.
Bartending schools – schools’ rates vary due to competition, the scope of the course, among others.
Online or in-class – online course is cheaper compared to the in-class course because of the latter offering extensive coverage, not to mention the hands-on training.
The additional course required – the cost of bartending license can be more expensive in some schools and agencies due to additional topics included in the course outline.

Where Do You Get Certified?

If you are after the convenience, you can get license or certification online. Click the link as one way to go or look up on the internet for the list available online schools or agencies. 
For in-class certifications, you may check out your local ABC agency, including the requirements for obtaining the certification.

Bartender Must Have’s

In order to land a job, qualification is as equality important as certification or license (in case of states that require them).
Some of what bartenders need to know are the following:

  • Different mixing recipes, including garnishes
  • Bar glassware, tools, and equipment
  • Bartending techniques
  • How customers order their mixed drinks

Additional Information

A bartending license or certification has an expiration date to ensure that these workers will be updated to various changes in the regulations during times of renewal.

Your becoming a bartender does not rely solely upon attending a bartending school, as you can obtain it through getting enough experience as a bar-back or bartending assistant. However, if you want to work in a state that requires a certification, you need to attend class and pass a test in order to get a license.

Bartenders typically receive only minimum wage, or sometimes even less. They rely heavily on tips from customers so it is important to be good at serving, courteous, friendly, and if possible, remember by heart regular customers and their regular drinks if you want a sizable tip.

Each state has their own minimum age requirement to be qualified as a bartender. These are: 

StateMinimum AgeIs license Required
District of Columbia21Yes
New Hampshire
New Jersey18No
New Mexico19No
New York18Yes
North Carolina
North Dakota19No
South Carolina21No
South Dakota21No
West Virginia18Yes

There has been an on-going clamor regarding bartending license being nonexistent. That is because technically speaking, there is really no bartending license if you compare them in the context of other professionals having their own license in their field and having their own regulatory body. But regardless of what you may call or treat it, it is still required in some states and if you happen to work in any of these states, you do not want to get caught working without one. So follow the rules at all times.

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