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Can You Become A Bartender At 18? Answered (2024 Updated)

Can You Become a Bartender at 18

Being a bartender can be a fun and lucrative career option- from a decent salary and generous tips to control mixing and socializing. 

However, bartending is not only about making and serving drinks, so you need to reach a certain age to get the job. 

Can you become a bartender at 18? Read on to find out. 

Can You Become A Bartender At 18: Is It Legal?

A Bartender Mixing An Alcoholic Drink

It is legal to become a bartender at 18. However, the minimum age requirement to become a bartender varies. 

Depending on the state, the minimum age requirement varies from 18 to 21 years old. While you can earn good money with bartending, you are at the mercy of tips. 

Also, some states may require you to pass a test, get a license, secure a certificate, or have an Alcohol Service Permit.  

Since the age for serving alcohol differs from state to state, it would be best to know the laws of your state and city before applying for any bartending position. 

Bartending At 18 Pros & Cons 


When you become a bartender at 18, you can make good money because aside from your employer’s hourly wage, you can enjoy customer tips. 

You can be very social as you meet different people throughout your shift. You will learn more as you interact with people and can learn new skills with the job. 

Also, since you take evening and weekend shifts, you’re usually free during the day; you can attend class or learn a new hobby. But are you allowed to buy alcohol on your 21st birthday?


One is the limited growth and limited upward mobility. Also, the workplace can be unhealthy. 

Experience and hard work can qualify for raises, but unlike traditional careers, you don’t have that assurance or professional development opportunities. 

While it benefits you to be free during the day, you must work on nights and weekends.

Worst, you have to work on holidays which may affect your social and personal time. 

Similar to how you get in at bartending at 18, there are local regulations that you have to be aware of.

You have to check the ID of your customers, as you should not serve alcohol to minors [1]. 

Legal Age To Bartend In The US 

bartender holding a glass of whisky cocktail drink

Based on National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), the minimum ages for bartenders and on-premises servers ranges from 18 to 21 years old, depending on the state [2]. 

Not all bars and restaurants allow an 18-year-old to be a bartender in compliance with state laws.

For instance, the minimum age for bartenders in Maine is 17 years old, with a supervisor present. 

Each state in the US defines the legal age required to be a bartender within its borders.

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States That Accept 18-Year-Olds To Bartend 

There are 50 states and 1 district in the US. Only 27 states accept 18-year-olds to bartend. 

The states are as follows:

Maine, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland (but not spirits), Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Montana. 

We also have New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina (but not spirits), Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

Minimum Bartending Age In The US 

bartender squeezing lime on a jigger

18 years old is the minimum bartending age in the majority of the states in the US.

While you must be 21 years old to consume alcoholic drinks, state laws permit 18-year-olds to bartend.

It can be different in Idaho, Nebraska, and Ohio (beer only) because the minimum bartending age in these states is 19.

In Kentucky, you have to be at least 20 years old. 

In Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, you have to be 21.

Also, in South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming, you must be at least 21 to be a bartender. 

“Never stop learning, develop your palate, and build your network” – Chris Tunstall, Professional Bartender.

How Do You Become A Bartender At 18? 

To become a bartender at 18, you must first check the state laws regarding the minimum age requirement. 

Some states require licenses or certificates, while other places require certification courses.

It is a requirement in some states for responsible alcohol service and consumption. 

For Instance, in Washington, you must complete an alcohol-serving course and obtain a permit.

In Canada and Ontario, bartenders must pass a short online course.

New Mexico requires an Alcohol Server Permit, while you should obtain an Alcohol Education Card in Nevada. 

Can You Serve Alcohol When You’re 18?

a bartender pouring vodka on a jigger

Yes, you can serve alcohol when you are 18. However, like bartending, there’s a legal minimum age requirement to serve alcohol.

In 50 states and 1 district of the US, there are only seven that do not allow an 18-year-old to serve alcohol. The rest of the states allow 18-year-olds to serve alcohol. 

Can You Bartend Without A License? 

Yes, you can bartend without a license as long as the state does not require you to obtain one.  

While there is no formal or nationally recognized license or required certificate to bartend, local laws require certificates, permits, or completed courses to be a bartender. 

Can You Get Bartending Licenses At 18? 

Yes, you can get bartending licenses at 18 if the state permits 18-year-olds to be bartenders. 

Some bartending licenses are called alcohol certifications, alcohol training, or bartending certifications. 

Bartending license comes with training, examination, or a seminar where you will learn how to become a bartender and a responsible alcohol server. 


Is it easy to become a bartender at 18?

No, it is not easy to become a bartender at 18, especially in states where it is required to obtain a bartending certificate.
Apart from the requirements, you should learn bartending skills.  

Can you serve any alcohol when you’re a bartender at 18?

Yes, you can serve any alcohol when you’re a bartender at 18, given that state laws permit it. In Maryland and Ohio, you have to be 21 to serve spirits and wines. 

Are there any exceptions to the minimum age requirement for bartenders?

In some regions, there may be exceptions or allowances for individuals under the legal drinking age to work in a bar under certain conditions, such as serving non-alcoholic beverages only.

Can I gain experience in bartending before turning 21?

Yes, you can gain experience in the hospitality industry by working in roles like server or barback, which can help prepare you for a future career as a bartender.

What should I do if I’m interested in bartending but not yet 21?

If you’re interested in bartending but not yet 21, consider gaining experience in related roles, seeking out training opportunities, and familiarizing yourself with cocktail recipes and mixology techniques.

Key Takeaways 

You can become a bartender at 18, but you must ensure that the state where you plan to become one permits 18-year-olds to work as a bartender.

There are 24 states where you have to be over 18 to be a bartender. 

Also, getting a bartending certificate to improve your knowledge and be a responsible alcohol server would be better. 

Bartending is more than just mixing alcohol – it is a career. 


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