Do You Need a License to be a Bartender in CA | Certifications and Requirements

Do you need a license to be a bartender in California? What about own a bar? The answer to both is yes. Bartenders in California now require RBS certification to bartend in the state. Starting July 1st, 2022, alcohol servers, by law, must attend Responsible Beverage Service training. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control mandates this training and the final exam. RBS training is required at any premise where alcohol is sold and consumed, so if this affects you, your business, or your employees, don’t delay!

Do You Need a License To Be a Bartender In CA?

Does the law only ask bar owners to get this license, or do you need a license to become a bartender even if you’re a part-time employee? The State of California now requires Responsible Beverage training in California for all employees and managers designed as alcohol servers. California Bartenders and bar backs are asked to obtain RBS training for everyone’s health and safety. This training covers more than the ways to open and pour a wine bottle–it also encompasses the importance of recognizing when a patron has had too much to drink and how to react accordingly.

Training is provided through our State-approved RBS course. Since the exam is 50 questions chosen from a pool, taking notes and taking the program at your own pace is essential. This course is required for every employee and manager that the law deems as an alcohol server, so read it carefully. This includes bouncers and security staff that check IDs in an alcohol-serving establishment.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control guidelines aim to mitigate alcohol-related harm at licensed establishments. The exam required for certification is only accessible after completing an ABC-approved RBS training program. Our RBS training is $12.50 and is available for mobile devices on our app. This way, you can learn at your own pace in a way that fits your busy schedule–not to mention at an affordable price.

What is the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control?

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is the state agency that regulates the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. All alcoholic beverage licenses are approved, denied, revoked, or suspended based on ABC’s findings and regulations. The California Department has approved our RBS training course of Alcoholic Beverage Control to meet the training requirements of Assembly Bill 1221. This training must be complete before bartenders can access the final exam.

Why is RBS Training Required?

Bartenders and servers are not just there to make and serve drinks. Multiple patrons will be in and out of the bar throughout a long shift. It is the establishment’s duty to make sure that all of their employees that serve alcoholic beverages are trained in identifying when a patron has come from another bar, is already inebriated, and when a patron has had too much to drink.

Drunk-Driving Fatalities

In 2019 alone, California had 949 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. It is vital for all employees at an ABC-licensed on-premise facility to understand what a .08 BAC level looks like and how many drinks it takes to get to that level. It is important for bartenders to understand the law and how individual BAC levels can be influenced by gender, age, weight, and whether they have had a meal with their drinks.

Curb Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is illegal, and it is essential to know what an official California license looks like, what legal drinking age is in California, and what forms of ID are acceptable. When discussing alcohol, a minor is anyone under the age of 21. When looking at how to become a bartender in California, one of the most critical points to understand is how to identify a minor, check for fraudulent IDs, and appropriately refuse service. Alcohol affects the central nervous system and protecting minors in your community is imperative.

Understand Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

The rate at which alcohol is consumed determines how well the liver can process it and is affected by a myriad of factors. Weight and body composition affect how alcohol is processed. This makes every patron unique in their alcohol tolerance. Our RBS training covers these differences for real-life situations to ensure all patrons drink safely and bartenders are watching out for them.

Bartenders Need to be Responsible

The key to those critical questions like ‘How to become a bartender in California’ starts with training and experience and being a responsible alcohol server. Even if you are starting as a barback to gain experience, you are still an alcohol server. A server should make a good-faith effort and should take steps to remove over-inebriated customers from the establishment and set up or promote safe transportation.

How To Become A Bartender in California

The legal age to consume alcohol is 21, but the legal age to sell and serve alcohol is 18 with restrictions. A person 18 or older may sell alcoholic beverages at an off-sale establishment or serve an alcoholic beverage in an area designed for the sale and service of food for consumption on the premises (on-sale). If you want to become a bartender in California, you must be 21.

If you have no experience as a bartender, consider applying to be a cocktail waiter or a barback to gain experience. As these positions are also considered alcohol servers under California law, they require RBS training and certification the same as a bartender does. They can be a great step towards a future as a bartender if that’s something that interests you.

Here are the steps you need to know for how to become a bartender in California:

  • Register with our RBS training program. The fee is $12.50 to access the course and our on-the-go mobile app that allows you to access the course from anywhere.
  • Register with the ABC here to receive your Student ID. Make sure that the email address, name, and other info that you provide the ABC matches what you provided with us. It is a $3 fee to register with the ABC.
  • Provide us with your Student ID number and complete the course at your own pace.
  • Upon completion of the course, RBS training will submit your completion to the ABC. You must take the exam within 30 days and pass with a minimum score of 70%.

We hope this informative guide has answered your questions about becoming a bartender in California and what to do if you need a license to be a bartender. RBS training is now required to be a bartender in California and helps you become better prepared for your exciting career in bartending.