U.S. bartenders typically earn between $20,000 and $55,000 per year with a median income of $24,960 in 2020. If you want to join their ranks, the accreditation process is easier than you might think.
How Can I Get a Job Tending Bar?
You can learn the art of bartending at an online school or by attending in-person classes. Online courses run between $50 and $200 while in-person courses cost between $400 and $800.
The cost of attending bartending school will be higher if local laws require you to be certified by a school in order to tend bar. It pays to do some research before choosing a program.
Bartending courses can vary widely when it comes to the cost of their programs and the quality of their coursework. Schools are also affected by the geographical areas they serve.
Some programs focus on helping you to develop bartending expertise. These programs cover a lot of material and touch on every aspect of being a bartender. Other programs barely scratch the surface.
A bartender’s certification issued by a school confirms that you have completed a set of courses designed to educate you about bartending. It doesn’t say or guarantee anything about the level of your skills.
If there are any legally required courses in your area, they should be included in a school’s curriculum.
Most bartending programs offer licenses or certificates to show that you’ve successfully completed their coursework. Although it can’t hurt to have a school-issued bartender’s certificate, it is not usually required by law.
What Is a Bartending License?
A bartender’s license is usually the same thing as a school-issued certificate. The terms may be used interchangeably. Schools issue their own versions of licenses and certificates.
However, in some locations, you may be required by law to get a license in order to pour drinks. A license requirement is usually due to local laws that govern bartending activities in your area. Different localities may have different laws and different bartending requirements.
For example, local laws in your area might require you to attend a bartending school that offers 40 hours of coursework in order to obtain a legal bartending license.
In Texas, the only legal requirement for bartending is certification by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). The TABC certification requires that you have alcohol awareness and that you will not sell drinks to minors or intoxicated people.
Because all Texas bartenders must be TABC-certified, the credential may be considered a bartending license. Legally, you don’t need any other licenses or certifications to be a bartender.
How Can I Get a Bartending License
Bartending school can be a good investment with a high ROI if you have the time and money to invest in a new career. Good bartenders are always in demand, and a high-quality bartender’s course will give you marketable skills in a relatively short time, even with no previous bartending experience.
Alternatively, you can find out what is legally required to be a bartender in your state, do that and be done with it. In Texas, you can pay about $10, spend a few hours on the TABC certification website, get certified and start bartending legally at once.
This is a good option if you already have decent bartending skills, and you want to start bartending as soon as possible.
Some bartending schools that issue licenses require 40 or more hours of training. Other schools may require fewer hours, but you won’t learn as much.
Do I Need a License to Tend Bar?
In most cases, you don’t need a license to tend bar. The only exceptions are when local laws require you to be licensed or when states require a TABC certification.
There are no federal regulations that govern bartending, and there are no federally mandated documents that you must acquire to serve alcohol in the U.S.
Is There Any Difference Between Bartending Licenses and Bartending Certificates?
Although industry people consider them the same thing, bartending certifications and bartending licenses can mean different things as well as the same things.
Certificates and licenses usually refer to the documents you get after completing a school’s curriculum. However, they can also refer to the TABC certificates issued by the county or state that legally permit you to work as a bartender.
A bartending school certificate won’t guarantee that you’ll succeed on the job or get hired faster than anyone else. However, it won’t hurt your chances of getting hired, either. In most cases, it’s not a job requirement.
Is a Bartending License Better Than a Certification?
Although these terms are used interchangeably, their precise meanings can vary from state to state. When people are in different locations, they can have different names for the same thing.
A comprehensive online bartending course should include any courses that are required in your area. Nevertheless, be sure to check the local laws yourself to determine what, if anything, is legally required in your state. Do not just rely on the school to inform you.
What Are the Benefits of Going to Bartending School?
- Improves your competence behind the bar
- Helps you to develop your interpersonal skills
- Teaches you how to pour drinks properly
- Increases your knowledge of wine, beer and mixed drinks
- Gives you the know-how to tend bar almost anywhere
- Teaches you basic bartending techniques
- Gives you a working knowledge of mixology
- Instructs you about making exotic cocktails
- Gives you a working knowledge of the latest restaurant technology
If you already have some bartending experience, and you just want a legal way to earn some money, going to a bartending school might be a waste of time.
Aspiring bartenders with no experience who plan to work in casual bars where the customers drink mostly tap beer probably won’t need bartender training. When new things pop up along the way, you can simply learn as you go.