What qualifications do you need to be a bartender?

Updated February 21, 2017

While there are legal and educational requirements for becoming a bartender, there are also personality requirements. The definition of a bartender is a person who prepares and serves drinks to patrons, whether it be in a restaurant or a tavern. It is universally accepted that a bartender's job encompasses much more. A bartender should have an outgoing personality, enjoy people and like to listen.

Legal requirements

The legal drinking age in every state in America is 21. To be able to prepare and serve drinks a bartender must be at least 18 years of age in some states. There are other states that require the bartender to be 21 years of age. Additionally, bartenders must not only be aware of the laws in regard to the drinking age but also regarding intoxication levels of patrons. Many times it is the bartender's duty to make sure that a person does not become intoxicated before driving a car. This is probably one of the most difficult duties that a bartender has to be able to deal with.


Educational requirements can vary by the establishment, with some upscale restaurants requiring a degree or certification in bartending, but typically there is no formal education required to become a bartender. Many bartenders learn how to prepare drinks, interact with patrons and other bartending duties through experience. The type of establishment the bartender is working in will depend on how extensive his knowledge of drinks needs to be. For example, a bartender in a simple tavern might not need to know how to make a Brandy Alexander.


A career in bartending means that there will be extensive interaction with the public. This type of vocation requires an outgoing personality in order to be successful. Someone who is withdrawn and shy would not only have trouble performing bartending duties, they would also find such a job unbearable. People like the idea of being able to sit, relax, drink and talk to their bartender about problems that they might not share with anyone else. A good bartender has excellent listening skills.

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About the Author

Paul Parsons is a freelance writer, living in Houston, Texas. Parsons writes from an array of different topics, but specializes in medical, personal finance, computers and business.