Everything You Need to Know About California RBS Training

Bartending is a lot more than pouring drinks. It may seem simple, but it is labor intensive and requires attention to detail that most may not realize. Drinking responsibly is just that–responsible. Irresponsible consumption of alcohol is dangerous and often costs lives. If done improperly, the mixing of different drinks can cause the consumer to lose track of the amount of alcohol consumed. While mixing drinks is generally unlikely to make you seriously ill, it’s always best to allow certified, trained personnel to take care of your drink mixing and making–especially if you’re looking to try something new! 


The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control exists to provide service and safety to the people of California. The process of certifying employees who serve alcoholic beverages contributes to the necessary safety of alcohol providers and consumers. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is an agency of the California State Government. Its origins trace back to 1955, following an amendment to the California State Constitution after the repeal of the 18th amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of alcohol in the United States of America. 

The regulation of alcohol sales and consumption, while necessary, is not sufficient. Providing accurate, comprehensive education is crucial to ensure a safe, informed public, especially in the realm of alcohol service and consumption. California RBS training aims to educate potential servers and handlers of alcoholic beverages to ensure that those who work in the field do so safely. 

What Is RBS Training?

RBS Training (Responsible Beverage Service) focuses on teaching restaurant servers how to safely serve alcoholic beverages to maintain a safe drinking environment in their communities. RBS training in California is now a requirement in the state, according to Assembly Bill No. 1221, passed in 2017. The process of becoming certified to serve and handle alcoholic beverages is designed to be informative, educational, and time-efficient. Becoming certified through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control allows for safe, legal employment as a beverage server in California. 

Purpose of RBS Training

The purpose of California RBS training and certification is to increase safety in communities. The safe serving of alcohol is crucial to the protection of any community. Underage drinking is extremely hazardous and detrimental to young people’s and others’ safety. 

Trained and proficient alcohol servers can mitigate the risks posed by these problems and contribute to a safer community overall. Although California RBS training may only partially eliminate all these problems, responsible service of alcohol helps to solve them by addressing potential inadequacies among alcohol servers. If the training course and exam are taken properly and seriously, anyone looking to gain or retain employment as a beverage server will become more equipped to perform their job functions in a safer manner. But who needs to be RBS certified, and how do you get that?

Local Availability

Fortunately, RBS certification is ready and available in the state of California. Because this training is mandatory to serve alcohol in California, it is widely available for those who wish to pursue employment as a server of alcohol. Anyone who needs to be RBS certified may complete the training through the training portal on the Alcoholic Beverage Control website. 

The fee for the course and exam is $3. The program is available to anyone with an internet connection. If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, you can take the course at a public library with access to computers and the internet.

Cultural Accessibility

Naturally, not all who wish to work in environments that serve alcohol are native English speakers. Fortunately, RBS training in California is available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Hindi, Punjabi, and Hindi. Toggling through languages is simple, with the drop-down menu next to your name in the training portal. This way, employment as a server is accessible to a more diverse demographic, and safer job environments are available to a broader range of people. 

If a participant cannot find the course in their native language, completion of the course is still a possibility. The course is open book and can be accessed and completed in the amount of time that works best for the participant. Additionally, translators can help you understand the course content and can assist with the exam. This way, the course is truly accessible to anyone who wishes to become certified. 

Who Needs to be RBS Certified?

Certification is a requirement for anyone who wishes to be employed as an alcohol server in California. This includes personnel who do any one of the following four things:

  • Oversee the admission of people into an establishment that sells alcohol by checking ID
  • Takes orders from customers intending to purchase alcoholic beverages
  • Pours, mixes, or otherwise assemble alcoholic beverages for customers
  • Serves alcoholic beverages to customers

RBS certification in California is not only for those who intend to do all of these things; it is required for those who intend to do any one of these things. So, if you want to work as a server, host, or cashier in a facility that serves alcoholic beverages, you will need to complete RBS certification in California. 

Those who work for temporary catering events must be RBS certified, even if their employment is temporary. 

Certification Requirement Exemptions

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control recommends that any individual who participates in the service of alcoholic beverages for consumption become RBS certified. However, there are a few situations where this is optional under Assembly Bill No. 1221. Some of these exemptions include:

  • Professors/instructors who are employed at a university/college institution and teach a course where alcoholic beverages are tasted according to the learning objectives of the course
  • Employees or crew of a boat or plane with a proper license(eligible license types are types 54, 55, and 56)
  • Owners and stylists who serve complimentary alcoholic drinks at their barbershops and salons

Organizations That Require Certification

Unsure whether your organization requires you to be certified or not? Any establishment with an ABC on Premise License requires all its employees to complete an RBS certification process to maintain employment. An on Premise License means that alcoholic beverages are purchased and also consumed on-site. In contrast, some stores may only provide alcoholic beverages to be sold, such as grocery stores or other liquor stores. Establishments that carry an on Premise License can sell alcohol to be consumed at the establishment. These institutions can include a bar or a restaurant with a bar. 

Why Become RBS Certified?

The alcohol service market in California offers various employment options that may appeal to a dynamic group of people.

Certification through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is the most comprehensive, thorough way to become legally licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. As mentioned before, these courses are available in a variety of languages. Additionally, it’s completely understandable to feel hesitant to sit through an online course certification, so fortunately, it’s not required that you do the entire course in a single sitting. This way, anyone who wishes to be certified can do so at the rate that works best for them. 

Furthermore, once you earn the certification, you do not need to worry about keeping track of a certificate to display to your employer. An ID code is provided for you to give to your employer, who can quickly check its validity and current status. This code is valid for three years. 

Additionally, earning RBS certification before applying for employment shows initiative, concern, and preparedness. 

Becoming Certified

The process of becoming a certified beverage service provider involves the following steps:

Registration as an Alcohol Server

To begin the RBS certification process, each potential server must register with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control as an alcohol server. This includes those who may not directly serve alcohol but manage employees who do. 

Take the Certification Course

The course will give instructions and training that pertains to effective and safe service of alcohol to increase proficiency in the working field. As mentioned before, the course is available to a wide range of people and is designed to be flexible. It can be taken in smaller pieces, as long as each participant can protect their personal security by logging out of their account after each session. The course is available to anyone with an internet connection. 

Take the Exam to Become a Certified Alcohol Server in California

The exam must be taken within 30 days after the course is completed. If the exam is not taken within 30 days of course completion, the program must be retaken. The cost of the exam is $3.00 and is non-refundable. This can be paid online through the RBS portal with most major credit or debit cards. 

The minimum score required to pass the exam is 70%. Each participant has three attempts to meet this score. If not passed all three times, the course and the exam will need to be retaken to ensure that the candidate is qualified to handle and sell alcoholic beverages competently and safely. 

All participants may rest assured that the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will not distribute or sell any personal information to anyone outside of the department unless it becomes a legal requirement or a necessary part of processing the application and course certification. 

After the Exam

Be especially vigilant when fielding and responding to any outreach attempts by ABC regarding certification. Participants will only receive an email if they have provided their email addresses in the RBS portal. If a participant is contacted, the best course of action is to always reach out to the training provider directly, as opposed to writing a response through the email that was delivered. To increase security, it is best to be sure that the provider who reaches out is on the list of approved training providers provided by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. By doing this, participants increase their personal security and are more informed about the application process. 

After certification has been verified, your validation code will be mailed to you shortly afterward. 

Employment After Certification

Those who have been accepted for a position as an alcoholic beverage server have 60 days from their first day employed at their new place of work to complete RBS certification in California. Employers may also extend employment offers to potential employees who still need certification. Although employers are advised and obligated to become certified, they cannot register their staff to be certified. Each employee (or potential employee) must register individually to become certified.

Renewing Certification

Once the training has been completed and the exam passed, RBS certificates are valid for three years. An RBS certification can be renewed, but you must renew it before it expires. The renewal process consists of the same course and exam, retaken and passed for renewal. 

Ultimately, the most critical part of pursuing employment in beverage service is learning how to do so safely, proficiently, and legally. California RBS training provides a complete certification process at an affordable cost to anyone with an internet connection. The courses are available in various languages and can be taken at the chosen pace of the participant. Visit our website for more information.