5 Things To Consider Before Becoming a Bartender in California

Whether you’re living in California now or looking to move, what your job availability looks like is one of the biggest things to consider. With over 56,000 establishments in California, bartending is a lucrative, flexible career that is constantly in demand, but you might be wondering how to become a bartender in California.

Bartending is a highly-rewarding career and there are a few things to know before you get started. Obtaining your RBS certification before you apply can make you an excellent prospect for an employer, and if you intend to work in California, it’s required by the new 2022 laws. While bartending is a demanding environment, the more skills you develop and the more training you undergo, you’ll have a clear path to this lucrative career.

Do You Need A Bartending License?

The State of California now requires a valid alcohol server certification for bartenders. Alcohol server certification from a Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) program is required to be a waiter, barback, manager, or bartender in California. You must maintain all records of these certifications for inspection, so you must have the certificate on hand. While bartending courses like mixology aren’t required, they can add an edge to your resume. The legal age to serve alcohol in California is 18 years or older at establishments serving food. If the establishment only serves cocktails, you must be at least 21. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that bartending will grow 32% over the next few years, so having this training can significantly help in finding a job as a bartender. Stand out in the crowd both in and outside of California.

Do You Need RBS Certification?

Yes. RBS certification is now required if you want to work as a bartender in California. Bartenders, waitpersons, and managers involved with alcohol in California must take Responsible Beverage Service training and be certified within 60 days of employment. Under the RBS Training Program Act, employees who qualify as alcohol servers or managers in California must participate in an RBS training program and obtain a valid alcohol server certification. Uncertified bartenders cannot legally serve alcohol in California. Many people miss this new regulation when looking into how to become a bartender in California, as it went into effect on July 1st, 2022.

What is an RBS Training Program?

Obtaining your RBS certification is mandatory for being a bartender in California. Since licensure is good for three years once you pass the exam, taking the program before pursuing your career is a good idea. Industry professionals know it is the first step when looking into how to become a bartender in California, as all premises licensed to serve alcohol must now require an employee to take an RBS training program by law. 

Our RBS Training Program covers all topics on the rigorous state-mandated exam and prepares you to work in the industry as a bartender. It covers the complex nature of serving alcohol in bars, restaurants, stadiums, and other businesses. Bartending is not just about learning mixology but also understanding alcohol-related issues, such as the rate of alcohol absorption and when to taper patrons off. The training takes three to four hours and is self-paced. The California Department approves our course on Alcoholic Beverage Control to meet the training requirements necessary to take the state exam.

Are You Starting With No Experience?

If you are interested in bartending in California but have no prior experience, then it can be helpful to build expertise by starting as a server or a barback. Beginning as a barback or server allows you to learn the behind-the-scenes of a bar’s POS system and many of its regular customers. Also, you’ll already have your ABC certification, will have completed RBS training, and have time to know the ins and outs of alcoholic beverages. Barbacks are often hired without prior experience as long as they have a great attitude and a willingness to learn.

Almost all bartenders start as barbacks at first. It allows you to learn skills from bartenders who are already at the top of their game. Once you undergo bartender training, you will already have your ABC certification and an understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding alcoholic beverages.

Learn What Makes A Good Bartender

A good bartender has several essential skills that they need to showcase when they’re behind the bar. Getting your RBS certification will help you be a good bartender by giving you a framework to learn skills such as:

  • Identifying minors and checking ID properly
  • Setting boundaries with patrons to avoid over-serving
  • Identifying inebriated patrons
  • What terms like ‘BAC’ mean
  • What the T.R.A.C.E. program is
  • The maximum penalty for serving alcohol after hours

Knowing the legal aspects of how to become a bartender in California will put you on the path to employment. Employers require this certification for hiring anyone who works in an establishment that serves alcohol on the premises. Even if you don’t plan on starting in a bar, everything from charity events to sports stadiums will require you to have RBS training and pass the certification exam. The more marketable skills you have and certifications you possess on your resume, the better.

Know What You’ll Have To Do

Becoming a bartender is worth it for this flexible, exciting career. Those wondering how to become a bartender in California now know the first step. Get your RBS certification from us in order to understand the legalities that will come with serving alcohol. Once you’re compliant, getting in from the bottom as a barback and learning the industry from the professionals who work there will be easier.

Starting as a barback or waiter will help you develop the skills needed to be a good bartender and give you experience in monitoring intoxication levels so that you’re prepared when managing a busy bar at the height of service. Ingraining checking IDs and alcohol knowledge before serving alcohol to patrons will ensure that you always comply with state regulations and laws. Being a bartender isn’t just about serving the best drinks–it’s also about keeping the community safe.