Posted on: June 22, 2023

TABC and Food Handlers: Do Servers Need a Bartender License?

Bartender License

Being a server at a restaurant means you’ll have several responsibilities, such as greeting customers, taking orders, and bringing food and drinks to their table. A lot of times, these drinks may be alcoholic. Even though you’re not the bartender making the drinks, you might be wondering, do I need a bartender license anyway?

In this article, we’ll go over what kind of license is needed to be a bartender or a server in the state of Texas, as well as answer some other frequently asked questions about TABC certification in Texas.

What is TABC?

TABC is an acronym that stands for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. It is the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the production, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages in the state of Texas. The TABC enforces state laws and regulations pertaining to the alcoholic beverage industry to ensure public safety, prevent illegal activities, and promote responsible alcohol consumption.

What is TABC Certification?

TABC Certification is a training program for anyone involved in the sale or service of alcoholic beverages in the state of Texas. It is designed to educate and ensure that alcohol is served responsibly, in compliance with state laws and regulations, and to promote the safety and well-being of both the customers and the community.

Is a TABC Certification Required in Texas?

Contrary to what most people think, TABC certification isn’t required by law to serve alcohol in Texas. This may come as a surprise to you if you’ve ever worked at a bar or restaurant because your employer probably asked you to get certified if you weren’t already.

It's worth noting that while TABC certification is not legally required, employers have the right to establish their own requirements and standards for employment. That means they might require you to be certified before you’re able to start working. Below are just a few reasons why they might ask you to get your certification.


Employers may have internal policies and standards that go beyond legal requirements to ensure responsible alcohol service. By asking employees to obtain TABC certification, employers demonstrate their commitment to upholding high standards of professionalism, safety, and customer service.

Liability and Risk Management

Serving alcohol carries inherent risks, including potential legal liabilities. By requiring TABC certification, employers can mitigate risks and demonstrate their commitment to responsible alcohol service. Certified employees are trained in recognizing signs of intoxication, preventing over-service, and handling difficult situations, which can help minimize incidents and liability.

Customer Confidence

TABC certification provides assurance to customers that the establishment takes responsible alcohol service seriously. Displaying the TABC certification or promoting a TABC-certified staff can enhance the reputation and credibility of the establishment, attracting customers who prioritize safe and responsible environments.

Insurance Requirements

Some insurance providers may require establishments to have TABC-certified employees as part of their coverage. By ensuring that employees are TABC certified, employers can meet insurance policy requirements and maintain coverage for potential alcohol-related incidents.

Operational Consistency

TABC certification provides a standardized training framework for alcohol service practices. By having all employees certified, employers can ensure consistent knowledge and adherence to responsible alcohol service protocols across their establishment.

How Long Is TABC Certification Valid?

TABC certification in Texas is valid for two years after the date it was issued. After those two years, individuals must renew their certification to remain eligible for employment in establishments that serve or sell alcoholic beverages.

Renewal of TABC certification typically involves taking a refresher course or completing any additional requirements set by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The purpose of renewal is to ensure that individuals stay up to date with changes in laws, regulations, and best practices related to responsible alcohol service.

How Old Do You Have To Be to Bartend in Texas?

Even though the legal drinking age is 21, you only have to be 18 to bartend in Texas. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, individuals must be at least 18 years of age to serve or sell alcoholic beverages in establishments such as bars, restaurants, clubs, hotels, and anywhere else alcohol is served.

However, it's important to note that some establishments may have their own policies or preferences regarding the minimum age for bartending positions. While the legal requirement is 18, some employers may set a higher minimum age, such as 21, due to factors such as liability concerns, the nature of their operations, or their specific alcohol service policies.

Who Is Required To Have a Food Handler Card in Texas?

In Texas, workers are required to have a food handler card or certificate if they are involved in activities that involve the preparation, handling, or serving of food in a commercial establishment. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) requires food handler to obtain this certification to ensure proper food safety practices and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

The requirement applies to a wide range of food service establishments, including restaurants, cafeterias, delis, food trucks, caterers, and other businesses involved in food preparation and service. It also extends to employees who handle unpackaged food, work in food preparation areas, or come into direct contact with food, utensils, or equipment.

Food handler cards can typically be obtained by completing an approved food handler training course and passing an examination. The course covers essential topics such as proper food handling, personal hygiene, temperature control, cross-contamination prevention, and cleaning and sanitation practices.

Do Servers Need a Bartender License?

Now to the answer you’ve been waiting for, do servers in Texas need a TABC license? This will depend entirely on the type of establishment where they work. If they’re employed by a food truck or restaurant that does not serve any alcohol, they will not need to be TABC certified. On the other hand, if they work somewhere that sells alcoholic beverages, they are legally required to get their TABC license.

Do you need to get your TABC certification? TIPS seller/server training is TABC approved and online for your convenience. Enroll today!