Posted on: July 29, 2022

How to Become a Bartender in California

become bartender california

If you're looking to become a bartender in California, this article has all the information you need to get started.

Do I Need to Get an Alcohol Server License in California?

Starting July 1, 2022, the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) requires all bartenders to earn their license before serving alcohol.

According to the CA Assembly Bill 1221, bartenders, managers, and servers must all have valid Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training from an ABC accredited provider within 60 days from their date of hire.

What is Included in the CA ABC RBS Training?

The CA ABC RBS training helps servers develop alcohol server techniques that show how to identify and intervene when necessary.

Topics include state laws and regulations, the societal impact of alcohol, and intervention skills training. This course helps servers improve customer service and situational management skills.

How Do I Get My California RBS Certification?

  • Create an account and register through the California RBS Portal.
  • Complete the online application for the California RBS certification and pay the application fee of $3.00.
  • Write down the ID number in the Server Certificate Details section. You will need this ID number to register for any RBS course.
  • Verify the spelling of you name as it is required that this match IDENTICALLY to your training registration.
  • Visit an approved RBS provider, such as TIPS, and select the TIPS California Responsible Beverage Server training course (LINK).
  • Purchase the TIPS California Responsible Beverage Server course using your ID number provided during your California RBS registration.
  • Complete the TIPS California RBS training course and pass the TIPS exam. The course takes 2-4 hours.
  • TIPS will notify the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) of your completion of the course within 24 hours.
  • Within 48 hours, California RBS will send an email indicating that you may begin your exam. The California ABC administered exam must be completed within 30 days of the course completion date. You must score at least 70% to receive your certification.
  • Your license is valid for three (3) years.

What Are the California Alcohol Laws?

Do you want to know how old you must be to bartend in California? The following chart shows California bartending laws and describes the California bartending license rules.

State Agency

California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Alcohol Server Training Law

Mandatory as of 2022*

Approved TIPS Programs

California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control


Mandatory starting in 2022

Length of Certification

TIPS Certification is valid for 3 years.

State Laws & Regulations to be Aware of:


Age to Consume


Age to Pour


Age to Sell

18. An off-sale licensee may employ a person under the age of 18 if that person is under the continuous supervision of a person 21 years of age or older.
Gasoline/petroleum stations with convenience stores that sell beer and wine for off-premise consumption may only employ persons over the age of 21 between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.

Age to Serve

The minimum age for serving alcoholic beverages is 21, except any person between 18 and 21 years of age employed in any bona fide public eating place, which is licensed for the on-sale of alcoholic beverages, may serve alcoholic beverages to consumers only if such service occurs in an area primarily designed and used for the sale and service of food for consumption on the premises, and the primary duties of the employee shall be the service of meals to guests, with the service of alcoholic beverages being incidental to such duties.
All hotel/motel/etc. employees handling the alcoholic beverages to be placed in the controlled access alcoholic beverage cabinet in any guestroom, including, but not limited to, any employee who inventories or restocks and replenishes the alcoholic beverages in the controlled access alcoholic beverage cabinet, must be at least 21 years of age.

Dram Shop Liability Laws

There is no Dram Shop liability in California, except when alcohol is served, sold, or otherwise provided to an obviously intoxicated minor. In such a case the server, seller, or provider may be held liable for damages.

Acceptable Forms of ID

Documentary Evidence of Age and Identity:
To be suitable as evidence for defense, the identification card must be issued by a governmental agency and have a current description and a picture of the person presenting it that reasonably describes the person as to date of birth weight, height, sex, and color of eyes and hair. No defense will exist if the card has obviously been altered or has expired.
In the event an Armed Forces identification card, Passport or Passport Card is provided as proof of identity and lacks a physical description, but does include date of birth and a photo, further proof of identity shall not be required.
A registration certificate issued under the Federal Selective Service Act is no longer considered documentary evidence of age, identity and date of birth.
Green cards and International Driver's Licenses are NOT acceptable forms of ID.


The sale of alcoholic beverages at self-service checkout stands in all format retail stores is prohibited.

Notes on Selling or Serving Alcohol

The sale of alcoholic beverages at self-service checkout stands in all format retail stores is prohibited.

Why Get Alcohol Training in California?

Due to changes in the California laws, as of July 1, 2022, all employees engaged in serving alcohol must earn and maintain certification.

Because server training is proven to reduce alcohol violations, California is now prioritizing and mandating all their servers be licensed with RBS training.

Even when server training is not required by law, employers may require that employees take a training course to understand the penalties and risks of severing alcohol to minors or intoxicated patrons.

Getting certified as a liquor-serving employee means that you receive protection in the event of an alcohol-involved incident and become more hirable by quality employers.

According to this data from the University of Berkeley SafeTREK, there were 1,059 people killed in alcohol-impaired collisions in 2016 in California.  Anyone who sells alcohol is in a position to make a positive change by making decisions that help reduce those numbers.

How Do I Get My Alcohol Server Training?

TIPS is a certified vendor of CA ABS training.

Click here to enroll in the TIPS CA RBS Alcohol Server Training.