Bartenders are the heart of any bar because of the responsibilities of interacting with customers, checking for age and intoxication in customers to prevent issues, mixology and serving drinks, and so on. So, it will make you think there must be a lot required to be a bartender.
However, the requirements for being a bartender aren’t that difficult, i.e., if you have the necessary skill sets. Also, in some states of the USA, licenses aren’t part of the equation either, but one thing will prove to be a hindrance. Yeah, you guessed it, it’s the age requirement.
So, it begs the need for the question, how old do you have to be to bartend or be a bartender?
The age limit fluctuates between 18-21 to be a bartender in the USA, but for most states, it is 18. However, these may increase based on the local regulations, i.e., in the area you live in, so it’s always better to check with your local authorities.
Here, we will discuss the age requirement groups for different states and how to acquire a license for bartending, which can give you a lead over your peers and more. Please, continue reading to know more.
How Old Do You Have To Be a Bartender
There is no nationwide answer to this question, as alcohol laws are regulated at the state level. I’ve put together easy-to-follow age groupings for bartenders across the US. Below you can also find some of the international age limits.
Group 1 (Age 18 Group)
This age group covers nearly half the states in the US. With roughly 26-27 states in this age group, these states are as follows:
Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawai, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
In all these states, the minimum age to be a bartender is 18, but further rules or regulations may apply. For example, in some states, this age limit is only valid if the person serving is under the supervision of someone older than 21 or at least of that age.
Group 2 (19-21 Age Group)
This group carries the remaining states with an age limit between 19-21. These states are further subdivided into three smaller ones with an age limit of 19, the other with 20, and the last one with 21.
Idaho, Nebraska, and Ohio are the three states that fall in this group. However, the same case applies here, as was in the case of the age limit of 18, but with a new twist, i.e., some counties only allow serving drinks at this age, and you can only bartend at the age of 21.
The only state with this age limit is Kentucky, but if it’s a beer only, even 18-19 years old are allowed to serve, but under the supervision of someone who is 21 or more.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming are the remaining ones that fall in this group.
For some of these states, the reverse is true, i.e., if the bartender is 21 years old, then a person below that age, e.g., 18-20, can help under their supervision.
While this age limit of 18-21 is the general requirement; however, according to various studies, the average age of bartenders is roughly early to mid-30s in most cases.
The underlying reason is that most establishments and business owners prefer experienced people over fresh ones. It is because, in this field, experience takes precedence over theoretical stuff.
So, now that you’ve got the info you need find out how to land a job as a bartender.
International Age Limits To Be a Bartender
While there is an age limit for various states of the US, there is also a restriction worldwide based on the age limit for you to be a bartender.
These are further sub-classified into three groups, which are as follows:
Age 18 Group
For most parts of the world, the age limit to be a bartender is 18. These may include some major countries like Australia, Germany, Spain, the UK, Italy, etc. Also, some places in Canada, like Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, have an age limit of 18.
Age 19 Group
The rest of the provinces and places in Canada fall into this group.
No Alcohol Group
However, some countries don’t permit the drinking of alcohol at all, so take note of that.
How To Acquire a License for Bartending
There are numerous schools where you can go to get a course and get yourself a bartending license. It can be an online or offline class, but after you complete it, you will be awarded a certification, i.e., if you meet the course requirement.
Various institutes offer permits and certifications, so before enrolling in one, check if your state approves of it.
Also, the factor you need to consider before going after a bartending license relates to whether your state requires it or not. You can check out the official website on alcohol policies for further information.
So, if you find out you don’t need a permit, you can directly apply for jobs if you meet the age limit. But the problem is employers prefer experience first, then people with licenses, and the least preference is given to fresh bartenders.
The license part can help you because it is focused on the on-hands experience of identification of minors and level of intoxication in customers rather than tips or tricks on mixology and stuff.
That is why; if you lack experience in bartending (or are fresh), you should apply for certification in bartending. To keep your spirit up and motivate yourself to focus on the course to get a license, check out how much bartenders make.
Lastly, being a bartender may be your top priority or a dream come true for some, but the age limit will restrict you from achieving your goal.
So, to reiterate, the age limit for more than half of the states in the US is 18, while other states fall between the 19-21 category. However, states with an age limit of less than 21 have further restrictions.
Similarly, the international side follows suit on the lower end, but the upper end goes till 19, which is also only for Canada.
Similarly, you can’t be a bartender in some places in the world because the consumption and use of alcohol are illegal there.
Frequently Asked Questions
A 16/17-year-old can serve alcohol in the bar/restaurant as long as the conditions in the license aren’t breached. But it should be approved by the overseer of the bar (or the person who holds the permit).
The minimum age for drinking alcohol in the world is 15 years old, and it’s allowed in Mali and the Central African Republic, but in the US, the drinking age is 21 years.