One of the most frequently asked questions aspiring bartenders have is, “how old do I have to be to become a bartender?”
In other words, what’s the minimum age to work behind the bar.
This is clearly important to know because along with (potentially) having to get your liquor-serving/bartending license, meeting the minimum age is the only other requirement to be a bartender.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer here because age requirements vary from country to country, state to state, and province to province. So to answer the majority of people’s questions, I’ve put together a simple table so you can quickly look up what the minimum age is to be a bartender in your geographical area.
In the table below, you’ll be able to find the minimum age requirements for the following countries, states, and provinces: Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.
If you work as a bartender in other parts of the world and you know what the minimum age requirement is, please reach out so I can also add that country to the list :-).
Finally, before we get to the list, I’d like to point out that in the United States, despite some state’s lower legal minimum age requirements, some bars will still require you to be of legal drinking age (i.e. 21) to hire you as a bartender.
Because bartenders are constantly surrounded by alcohol, it’s common for them to drink (illegally) on the job. If you get caught drinking illegally AND you’re underage, the venue will face the consequences. So it’s more risky hiring bartenders who are underage and some venues aren’t willing to take that risk.
Age Requirements to be a Bartender
|Country||State or Province||Legal Minimum Age|
|Canada||Newfoundland & Labrador||19|
|Canada||Prince Edward Island||19|
|New Zealand||Entire Country||18|
|United Kingdom||Entire Country||18|
|United States||Indiana||21 (19 with restrictions)|
|United States||Maryland||21 (18 with restrictions)|
|United States||Mississippi||21 (18 with restrictions)|
|United States||New Hampshire||18|
|United States||New Jersey||18|
|United States||New Mexico||21|
|United States||New York||18|
|United States||North Carolina||21 (18 with restrictions)|
|United States||North Dakota||21|
|United States||Ohio||21 (18 with restrictions)|
|United States||Rhode Island||18|
|United States||South Carolina||21|
|United States||South Dakota||21 (18 with restrictions)|
|United States||West Virginia||21 (18 with restrictions)|
Note: Be aware that minimum age requirements do sometimes change. These cases are rare but they exist. To be sure, contact your local municipality for the most up to date legal information.
Are you Too Old to Start a Career in Bartending?
Another common question that aspiring bartenders have is ‘am I too old to become a bartender?’ This is a loaded question because it depends on how old you are and what kind of job you’re looking for.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume ‘being old’ means you’re over the age of 30.
To start, no – you’re definitely not too old to be a bartender. I’ve seen bartenders of all ages masterfully handle themselves behind the stick. However, the majority of bartending jobs out there are for younger people and for that reason, employers will only hire younger bartenders for these roles.
By young, I mean people from the ages of 18 to 30.
There are plenty of bartending gigs that will happily hire older bartenders. But the bartenders they usually hire have been in the industry their whole lives so they know what they’re doing.
If you’re over the age of 30, you’re asking this questions and you’ve never tended the bar, if I were I, I’d think very seriously about whether or not it’s a good idea to jump into a bartending career now. For it to work, you have to REALLY want to do it.
Getting good at bartending and getting to the point where you’re making decent coin will take time (1-3 years). And to get your first job, you may have to start out as a barback or server first. If you want to be a bartender, you’ve got be ok with this because that’s what most of us have to do. The reason why I’m pointing this out is because it’s usually harder for older people to accept the shit you have to put up with in these positions.
There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s just what happens when you get older… So before you make any decisions, ask yourself, how badly do I want to do this? Do I know what I’m getting myself in for? Is it worth it?
For some of you, it won’t be. For others, it will be the best decision of your life.
For more information on bartending license requirements for becoming a bartender, check out this post here.