If you have aspirations of working either as a server or a bartender in Texas, you might wonder, what is the legal age to become a bartender in Texas?
According to Texas state law, you have to be 18 years or older to prepare and serve alcoholic beverages. You can gain relevant experience as a cashier at a bar or restaurant that sells alcohol for onsite consumption. But you may not serve alcohol. Starting as a barback is one option to gain experience in the bartending profession.
We’ll consider the legal requirements, such as the legal age, the required certification, and alternative paths to becoming a bartender if you are underage.
All good things have some legalities involved. Texas state law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from serving alcohol for onsite consumption.
However, an under-18 may sell alcohol at a grocery store or similar establishment to customers for offsite consumption.
We’ll unpack the legal requirements and some other relevant information in the following subsections.
Be of Legal Age
The legal age for serving alcohol to customers for onsite consumption is eighteen (18). This includes both servers and bartenders. There are two notable exceptions regarding the sale of alcohol by persons under the age of 18 as per the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (Title 4, Chapter 106):
- Persons under the age of 18 may work in any capacity within the establishment but may not be directly involved in the actual “selling, preparing, or serving of alcoholic beverages.”
- Any person under the age of 18 may operate a cash register or point of sale system in an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold and served onsite. The proviso is that the bartender or server must be 18 or older.
There are also a lot of definitions under Texas state law that influence the above-mentioned.
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CODE, TITLE 4. REGULATORY AND PENAL PROVISIONS, CHAPTER 106. PROVISIONS RELATING TO AGE
Sec. 106.09. EMPLOYMENT OF MINORS.
(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b), (c), (e), and (f), no person may employ a person under 18 years of age to sell, prepare, serve, or otherwise handle liquor, or to assist in doing so.
(b) A holder of a wine only package store permit may employ a person 16 years old or older to work in any capacity.
(c) A holder of a permit or license providing for the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages may employ a person under 18 years of age to work in any capacity other than the actual selling, preparing, or serving of alcoholic beverages.
(d) A person who is 18, 19, or 20 years of age is not prohibited from acting as an agent under Chapter 35, 36, or 73, provided the person may carry out the activities authorized by those chapters only while in the actual course and scope of the person’s employment.
(e) The holder of a permit or license providing for the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages who also holds a food and beverage certificate may employ a person under 18 years of age to work as a cashier for transactions involving the sale of alcoholic beverages if the alcoholic beverages are served by a person 18 years of age or older.
(f) The holder of a permit or license providing for the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages that derives less than 50 percent of its gross receipts for the premises from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages may employ a person under 18 years of age to work as a cashier for transactions involving the sale of alcoholic beverages if the alcoholic beverages are served by a person 18 years of age or older.
The state agency which regulates the alcoholic beverage industry in Texas issues A Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Certificate, or TABC Certificate.
Most employers require a TABC certificate from their staff, although it is not a legal requirement. You can get the certificate without being 18. But, you have to be 18 to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption.
You will also learn about the laws governing alcohol sales in Texas–including sales to minors and non-club members. How to recognize and cut off intoxicated persons, check IDs, and many other valuable lessons.
Unfortunately, ignorance is not an excuse for bartenders, and with the TABC certificate, you will also learn about making wise decisions and following the law.
Click here for a list of state-approved TABC certification schools. Remember, your certificate is only valid for two years and expires on the second anniversary of the date of issue. You have to pay the relevant fees for a new certificate.
Consider taking a course as they will highlight any changes or amendments to the laws.
Gaining Relevant Experience
If you are not 18 yet, you cannot serve alcohol to patrons for onsite consumption. Further, any person under 21 is considered a minor according to the Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapter 106.
This law also states that any person under 18 may not sell, prepare, serve, or even handle alcohol or help do so.
One exception is a wine-only package store, where a person over 16 or older may work in any capacity within the establishment. Although you may not sell, prepare, or serve alcohol, there are other jobs you can do before you turn 18.
You may work as a barback and assist the bartender with tasks such as preparing and stocking the bar, packing stock, and assisting with inventory.
Be 18 years or older to prepare and serve alcohol legally in Texas. A TABC certificate is not a legal requirement but is highly recommended because you will learn valuable lessons. You can gain experience working as a cashier or barback if you’re under the age of 18.