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How Old To Be A Bartender: Bartender Age

By
Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

Have you come across a bartender job description that really makes you want the job, but you're under 21? Well, is that the bartender age in your state?

You may still be able to get the job, but it's a bit complicated. The legal age to serve alcohol or work as a bartender vary by state, county, and even town. This means your new bartender cover letter and bartender resume may come in handy.

Read on to learn how old you need to be to serve alcohol, work as a bartender, and a few other tips.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Serve Alcohol?

In most states, you need to be 18 years old to serve alcohol legally. However, some states will let you serve as young as 16 or as old as 21. That's why it's important that both applicants and businesses look up the laws governing that particular bar or restaurant's situation.

Legal Age To Serve Alcohol

The legal age to serve alcohol varies between 18 and 21 depending on the state and city you live in. In general, each state defines the age required within its borders. However, there may be an exception to the rule, so you need to look up your city and county as well if you're interested in bartending. There can also be different requirements based on the type of alcohol being served. For more information, check out this handy chart from the Alcohol Policy Information System.

Legal Age To Serve Alcohol By State

To help clear up any confusion, here's a list of the general legal age to serve alcohol in all 50 states:

State Age
Alabama (AL) 21
Alaska (AK) 21
Arizona (AZ) 19
Arkansas (AR) 18
California (CA) 21
Colorado (CO) 18
Connecticut (CT) 18
Delaware (DE) 21
Florida (FL) 18
Georgia (GA) 18
Hawaii (HI) 18
Idaho (ID) 19
Illinois (IL) 21
Indiana (IN) 21
Iowa (IA) 18
Kansas (KS) 21
Kentucky (KY) 20
Louisiana (LA) 18
Maine (ME) 18
Maryland (MD) 18
Massachusetts (MA) 18
Michigan (MI) 18
Minnesota (MN) 18
Mississippi (MS) 21
Missouri (MO) 18
Montana (MT) 18
Nebraska (NE) 19
Nevada (NV) 21
New Hampshire (NH) 18
New Jersey (NJ) 18
New Mexico (NM) 18
New York (NY) 18
North Carolina (NC) 21
North Dakota (ND) 19
Ohio (OH) 21
Oklahoma (OK) 21
Oregon (OR) 18
Pennsylvania (PA) 18
Rhode Island (RI) 18
South Carolina (SC) 18
South Dakota (SD) 21
Tennessee (TN) 18
Texas (TX) 18
Utah (UT) 21
Vermont (VT) 18
Virginia (VI) 21
Washington (WA) 21
West Virginia (WV) 18
Wisconsin (WI) 18
Wyoming (WY) 21

It's important to note that these rules are established at a state level and can be modified by local governments. Even if the legal age to serve alcohol in your state is 18, your town or city may increase that number. However, they cannot decrease it, so you can't serve alcohol under the age determined by the state.

Can You Serve Alcohol At 18?

Yes, in the majority of states you can serve alcohol at 18! However, city and county ordinances may affect this. For example, in Illinois, you can serve alcohol at 18, but you need to be 21 in the city of Chicago. City websites usually have ordinances listed, so it's a good idea to check that out before wasting your time looking up bartender interview questions.

How Old To Be A Bartender: Legal Age To Bartend

The legal age to bartend is 18 in 26 states, but this can vary greatly based on different local governments and even licensing requirements. Bartending and serving alcohol are also not necessarily synonymous as some states allow you to serve wine under the age of 21, but not actually serve liquor at a bar.

Do You Have To Be 21 To Be A Bartender?

Possibly, but it depends on what state you live in. There are 17 states that require bartenders to be 21 as well as certain municipalities within states with different rules.

Can You Be A Bartender At 18?

If you live in one of 26 states, you can! However, depending on the state and city you live in you may need to wait between 1 and 3 years. You may also be required to get a bartending license or an alcohol server certification. The restaurant or bar needs to know the requirements, or they risk getting their liquor license pulled.

Can You Bartend Under 21?

Yes, if you live in one of 33 states you can be a bartender at the age of 18 or 19. There are caveats to this, but generally, there is likely a state near you where you can bartend under the age of 21.

Bartending Licensing Requirements

One final topic that needs to be covered is that of licensing. Most bartenders don't have their bartending license as it is not a requirement to serve alcohol. However, if you are at or under the stated age, you may be required to take one of these courses depending on your particular state and local government. This information should be listed on their websites, so make sure to check them out before applying for a job.

You can also take these courses on your own in preparation for becoming a bartender or server. It may be worth looking into getting your sommelier certification, cicerone certification, or other pertinent certifications if you plan on building a long-term career in the hospitality industry.

It's Been Ages

Becoming a bartender can be a very fun and lucrative career option. From a decent bartender salary to generous tips to control over menu engineering. But, you need to be a certain age to get the job, so it's important to know this requirement for your area.

Remember, if you're too young to serve the alcohol, there are other bar staff opportunities as well. You can start your career as a barback to learn valuable skills, how to use bartender tools, and earn tips before moving up into the bartending role. You can even create a bartender cheat sheet to help streamline the bar and set yourself up for the bartending job when you are old enough.

If you do get a bartending job, you should look into getting a wine cellar app or inventory scanning app like BinScan to help save the business money and make you look good!