Can You Be a Bartender at 18? Exploring Age Restrictions and Opportunities

Can You Be a Bartender at 18? Exploring Age Restrictions and Opportunities

Starting on the career ladder by bartending at 18 is a great way to get your foot in the door. You can gain valuable experience in customer service, running a hospitality business, and much more. In addition, being a bartender can be a lot of fun.

For many, it’s the ideal starting point, but knowing as much as possible about this role is important before you start searching. If you’re considering becoming a bartender when you turn eighteen, here’s everything you need to know.

Age Requirements: Can You Bartend At 18?

Fortunately, eighteen-year-olds can bartend in most states. However, you must check what the regulations are for the state you live in. Some states, like Chicago, require bartenders to be at least 21.

In Alabama, you need to be nineteen, while in Kentucky, you need to be 20. Generally, the age lies somewhere between 18 and 21 for all states, with the majority of states allowing 18 year old’s to serve alcohol.

To find out what age you need to be, visit your local government website, and the information should be available. Contact your local government office if you can’t find the information you need.

Exploring Job Opportunities: Bartending at 18

Taking on a bartender opportunity means you’re always on the right side of the bar. It’s an excellent way to improve your communication skills by correctly taking orders and fulfilling them. You’ll also learn to handle money well, work as a team member, and keep your space tidy and organized.

The skills you learn as a bartender are easily transferred to other roles. So, if you plan on having a different career, the skills you learn while bartending will still look attractive to any employer on your resume. Bartending is an opportunity to step into the adult world and make as much money as you can.

For many people, bartending is the perfect opportunity that acts as a stepping stone to something else. For instance, bartending can help pay for studies while at university.

The Legalities: Working At Bars At 18

In addition to being a certain age, there are also times when bartending requires you to have a license. You may need to complete a bartending course if you’re at the legal age or under it. Again, this will depend on your state and local government so it’s worth contacting local officials to find out.

If you need to take a bartending course before applying for a job, you can search for alcohol training courses online. Even if you don’t require this training before applying for a job, it can help your chances to enroll in this course so you have valued knowledge and stand out amongst other candidates.

Breaking Stereotypes: Bartending As A Teenager

Unfortunately, there are many negative stereotypes about bartenders, especially teenage bartenders. These stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. For instance, one such stereotype is that bartenders are often uneducated. The truth is that many bartenders are working to become far more educated than the people they serve. Here are some more common stereotypes that aren’t true.

  • All Bartenders like to party– This common stereotype is very misleading. Not all bartenders have the same character. A bartender’s job is to serve the party, not be part of it.
  • Bartending is a side job– The truth is, bartending is whatever you want to make of it. It can turn into a lifelong career if it’s something you enjoy. Many bartenders have gone on to own their bars and, in turn, train their bartenders.
  • You will get hit on- Another stereotype is that getting hit on is in the job description. Of course, it’s likely to happen. However, learning how to avoid personal questions and develop a rapport with customers doesn’t take long. You learn their boundaries, and they learn yours.
  • Bartenders are alcoholics- This is a downright lie. In fact, bartenders see so many intoxicated people that many choose not to drink. In addition, if a bartender were to drink alcohol while working, they’d be fired.
  • Bartending is just for men- Historically, many bartenders have been male; however, in recent years, that has entirely changed. Up to 60% of bartenders are now female. Like many other careers today, the bartending platform is equal where gender is concerned.

As a teenager, you may face many stereotypes that can apply to all ages. Whatever career path you choose, entering as a teenager allows you to show what you’re made of and learn from those who have gone before you.

Stepping Into The Adult World: Bartending At 18

You may be surprised by what you learn as a bartender. It’s a very social job; for the most part, you’ll be around others older than you. You’ll meet people from all different backgrounds, many of whom will relish the chance to talk to you.

There may be times when you feel like part bartender, part therapist. This presents an excellent chance for you to grow mature and learn about life as an adult. Being a bartender is also an active job so you’ll be on your feet a lot.

This aspect of the job can help you to understand what it takes to hold an adult job and manage your life well. It will be important for you to set aside time to rest so you have enough energy to work the hours that are set out for you. Bartending can be a gentle introduction to working life as an adult because, along with the work you have to do, it can also be very enjoyable.

The Pros and Cons: Starting a Bartending Career At 18

Like any other job, bartending has pros and cons as an eighteen-year-old. Before you decide to apply for a bartending job, it can help you get the full picture. Knowing what to expect will help you to decide whether you’re cut out for the role and give you some insight on how to apply.

The Pros

One of the major pros for teenagers working as bartenders is the tips. It’s fairly easy to make money as a bartender because customers are generous with their tips. If you’re lucky enough to find a bartending role in a high-class establishment, you may even find that your tips exceed your wage.

Bartending isn’t going anywhere fast. This is likely your first job as a teenager so you won’t have any prior working experience. Unlike many other jobs that are currently unsafe or being taken over by the unprecedented speed of AI, bartending is a safe job. People will always need bartenders, not just to serve drinks but for personal interaction.

In addition to these, you’ll also have free days. Most often, bartending roles are undertaken during the evenings and weekends. Therefore, your days are free to do as you please. This may mean being free to go on adventures, care for family members, study, or do other things.


As a bartender, you may find that you can’t climb too far up the career ladder. Although management opportunities can exist for those who want to continue bartending, the wage increase isn’t significant. If you want a job you can grow with, bartending may not be for you. You may also find that you don’t get the same level of insurance as a bartender as you would with other jobs.

Bartending can be tiring work. Not only are you on your feet throughout your shift, but it’s usually in the evenings and weekends. If you’ve had a busy day, it can be difficult to muster up the energy you need to work during the evening. You must manage your time well and avoid pushing yourself to your physical limits.

Being a bartender can also be a struggle for some. Those who are prone to addictive behaviors may find being around alcohol all the time difficult. As a bartender, you may also find that people divulge their issues to you.

Some of these issues may be hard to hear and will inevitably take a toll. If you find it hard to disassociate yourself from what you hear, you may find that bartending has a poor effect on your mental health.

Gaining Experience Early: Working At A Bar At 18

Early experience in any career can give you the boost you need for the future. It shows employers that you’re willing to work towards your goals and have a good work ethic. These are invaluable qualities that are important in any job role.

Working at a bar at 18 shows your determination to learn new skills and earn money through a respectful job. Even better if you have to do a training course for your bartending role; this shows your willingness to do what it takes to reach your desired end.

Arguably, there’s no better first job than one that allows you to work with people. No matter what type of career you end up in, you will always need to deal with all kinds of people in years to come. The people skills you learn, the better they will serve you in reaching your future goals.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to bartend at 18, there’s no denying the advantages when it comes to gaining experience.

Shattering Age Limits: Becoming a Bartender

At 18, you may be placed under any age limit. You may find that many people underestimate you and still treat you like a child. Becoming a bartender is a great first step to taking the bull by the horns.

As an 18-year-old, you are legally an adult, and it’s the perfect time to gain the experience you need to enter the adult world. If bartending is what you want to do, the only limitations against you are the regulations placed by your local government. If you’re allowed to work in a bar in your state as an 18-year-old, nothing else can stop you.

As an adult in your own right, bartending has tons of advantages. If you have a financial goal, like paying for school or buying a new car, bartending could help you get there as soon as possible. You’ll need to be willing to learn new skills and mature in your new role.

Is Bartending For Eighteen-Year-Olds?

A resounding yes! There are way too many pros to bartending for teenagers to ignore. Along with learning new skills, the job is often open to the youngest candidates. Older adults have often moved on to other career opportunities, making bartending the perfect opening job for anyone turning eighteen.

Do you have other responsibilities? No problem. Bartending shifts often allow you to do other things and explore other avenues while making money. It often means you can still socialize with your friends, too.

If you’re in school during the day and need to work for money during the evenings, your friends can come and hang out with you- as long as they’re not too distracting. Working as a bartender couldn’t be a perfect fit for most teenagers if they tried.