Do You Need a Bartender's License to Work in New York?

If you want to become a bartender in New York City, you may wonder whether you will need a bar tending license to find a job. New York City has bars or restaurants on nearly every corner, so finding a job may seem to present a challenge. If you are serious about becoming a bartender in the city, there are a number of things you should consider first.


According to the state law of New York, a bar tending license is not required to tend bar in the state. The only law that is important to remember is that you must be at least 18 years of age to legally serve drinks on state grounds.

The Licensing Advantage

While a bar tending license is not required by law, it is required by most owners looking to hire bartenders. A bar tending license proves to prospective employers that you have actual training and expertise in the industry and will be able to serve a large variety of drinks if they are requested.

Experience Factor

Most bars and restaurants will seek bartenders who have previous experience in the role, something that is impossible for someone who is just starting out to bring to the table. As a result, getting a bar tending license is the closest thing to real-world experience and shows an employer that you are serious about the profession.

Other Considerations

Because of the experience factor and the fact that some employers may not see a bar tending license without having worked as a bartender as actual experience, you may be asked to work as a bar back before getting promoted to an actual bar tending position. Some employers expect a level of comfort behind a bar before they will trust you as a full-time bartender, so be prepared to spend a few months in a supporting role if you are not offered a bar tending position right away.


  • Professional Bartending: Every Bartender's Guide to the Industry ; Adan Freeth; 2009

About the Author

Mike Vitanza is a professional writer for news agencies and other sources. He has worked for a number of different news outlets and publications, including Brafton News Agency. Vitanza is a graduate of Providence College with a bachelor's degree in business studies and has expertise in finance, money, business and technology.