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How to Get Your Bartender Certification Online


Bartending was previously considered a part-time job – something you do on the side to get yourself through school. However, a recent study shows that bartending is growing into a full-time profession with more and more people entering the field. This is in part thanks to the annual salary of about $24,000 and the 2.5 percent job growth rate. Although it is not a requirement in all states, many establishments require bartender certification before hiring you for this position. Are you considering being a bartender but do not have the time or resources to go to a full-time bartending school? Here is how you can get your Bartender Certification Online.

Do You Need a Bartender Certification?

Whether or not you need bartender certification will depend on where you live and work. Some states like Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington require a bartending license, while others do not. If you try to bartend in these states without a license, you could be subject to penalties. Bartenders practicing without a MAST permit in Washington state, for example, may face a $500 fine. The best way to remain on the safe side is to study the laws in your state before getting started.

Getting Certified

Most states require a bartending license, but this does not mean you must attend a formal school to get one. Currently, many accredited online institutions provide the necessary training and certification required to practice bartending. Since the lessons are completed online, this model of learning allows you to learn at your own pace. Here are the steps involved in this process:

Step 1: Learn Your State Laws

The legal requirements for bartending are essentially similar across most states, but there are minor differences. Other states like Utah are significantly different, however. In this state, you must retake the state-approved bartending licensing exam every two years. Oregon only requires you to renew your license every five years. In Michigan, you can serve alcohol for sixty days without a license as you wait for your permit. Study your state laws regarding this matter and familiarize yourself with alcohol handling regulations, course requirements, and minimum legal serving age, among other things.

Step 2: Enroll in an Accredited Online School

Once you understand what is required of you by your state in terms of bartending licensing, the next step is to find an accredited online bartending school and enroll. Getting your bartending certification is faster, more convenient, and more affordable. However, it can become a waste of time if you enroll in an accredited school whose certification does not apply in your state. Find a school that offers all the prerequisite courses and is permitted by the state to issue state certification. An accredited bartending course is a state-approved program that meets all the requirements of the exam you will need to sit for to get your permit. In addition to this, look for a program that includes hands-on training in a mock bar on how to handle product bottles and glassware. Also, check that the coursework is in line with the time requirements set by the state.

Step 3: Complete the Course

Once you get a suitable online bartending course, pay the required fees and begin attending the classes. You can usually set your own hours but try to complete the course as soon as possible so that you can prepare for your exams. Typically, these courses cover the following topics:

  • Mixing popular drinks
  • Preventing disturbances
  • Alcohol’s effect on the body
  • Laws on minors and drinking
  • Refusing sale
  • Products and receipts used in serving alcohol
  • Common recipes
  • Customer service
  • Responsible serving
  • State laws on liquor

Passing the final exam

If possible, take regular notes during the course and tests to gauge your understanding. The duration of these programs will usually vary from school to school, so check the recommended timeline and align it to your schedule so that you are able to attend all your classes.

Step 4: Apply for a Certification Exam

When you complete the program, apply for the state-regulated bartending exam. Some states do not require you to apply to take this exam, but you may need to schedule it with your school. Additionally, each state has a different passing score that you must get to be certified, so check and aim for this.

Step 5: Complete The Exam

Depending on the mixology program you are taking, you might be required to complete a two-part exam consisting of a practical portion and a written portion. Some states only have the written portion, so this is something to confirm before the exam day. Generally, expect to be tested on topical coursework and other areas, such as:

  • Responsible serving principles
  • Safety procedures
  • State and federal liquor laws

If you end up taking a practical portion, you will likely be tested on proper product usage and recipe knowledge. The examiner may also test your customer service skills.

Step 6: Apply for State Certification

When you complete and pass the final exam, you can fill out the required paperwork and apply for bartender certification. You may also be required to pay a fee and submit a reference letter from your program instructor. Generally, it should take a few days or weeks to receive your certification.

Step 7: Get Bartender Certification

Once you submit your application for a state bartender license, all you can do is wait. When the process is complete, you will receive the certification that you can then print and include in your resume. You can use this document to apply for a job in any establishment where alcohol is served. Since you are just starting out, consider starting with a part-time job to hone your skills and build your experience.


The average bartender makes between $24,000 and $29,000 in the United States. This is thanks to the booming hospitality industry and the fact that the US has some of the most lucrative cities for bartending in the world. If you are planning to get your Bartender Certification Online, these general guidelines should prepare you for what to expect. Remember that the exact requirements will vary from state to state and, according to Indeed, the training will be very extensive.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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