How To Become a Bartender in Florida

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: November 12, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

A license is not required to become a bartender in Florida. However, specific training is mandatory if the restaurant/bar/employer you work for wishes to sell alcohol as a “responsible vendor” under the Florida Responsible Vendor Act. 

Florida is the southeasternmost state in the U.S. On one side of it sits the Gulf of Mexico and on the other, the Atlantic Ocean. Often referred to as the “Sunshine State”, with its many hundreds of miles of coastline and beaches, Florida has a vibrant outdoor bar and patio culture. 

So, what does it take to become a bartender in this tourist-packed state? The remainder of this article explores the question, “how to become a bartender in Florida” so that you know all there is to know about Florida bartending.

How to become a bartender in Florida

Becoming a bartender in the sunshine state is fairly simple. However, there are just a few key items to remember when embarking on a bartending career in Florida. 

You must be of legal age to serve alcohol. You may need to complete a certain training session though it is not mandated (it depends on the bar/restaurant/employer you are working for). And, of course, you will need a valid right to work in Florida whether that is in the form of citizenship or one of the various working Visas. 

The section below takes a deep dive into these few points on bartending in Florida as well as touches upon some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to serving alcohol in Florida.

Does Florida require a bartending license?

The bartending license requirement varies from state to state, and even city to city across the US. While some places will require training or a license, others will not, and Florida is one of those latter states. 

There is no legal requirement for a bartending license to be able to serve alcohol in Florida currently. 

However, many Florida bars, restaurants, hotels, and the like are part of the Responsible Vendor Program which came about from the Florida Responsible Vendor Act. For an alcohol-serving institution to obtain its “responsible vendor” designation, each server needs to undergo the required training specified under the Act which takes just about two to three hours to complete.

What is the Florida Responsible Vendor Act?

The Florida Responsible Vendor Act is a best practice guidance mechanism for any companies wishing to sell alcohol under the designation of “responsible vendor”. 

What does the Florida Responsible Vendor Act mean?

All the Act and resulting designation mean is that the given alcohol vendor and their employees have undergone necessary training on the following topics (amongst others):

  • How to eliminate the sale of alcohol to underaged persons
  • How to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related accidents
  • How to prevent drug activity in combination with alcoholic beverages
  • How to be prudent when serving; with the aim of restricting the sanctions that would be imposed on said vendors in the event of an alcohol-related incident
  • Best practices for serving, marketing, and promoting alcohol; including preventing the over-consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises in which that alcohol is being served
  • Ensure alcohol is dealt with in a professional and responsible manner under all circumstances; understanding that a commitment to responsible service is vital when it comes to operating a successful and safe alcohol-serving company

Why do so many alcohol vendors require this certification if it is not state-mandated?

The Florida Responsible Vendor designation is an attractive label for employers as it allows them to apply for insurance cost reductions. If their staff is certified as trained professionals who have undergone appropriate bartending training, then accidents and mistakes are less likely according to insurers. 

Think of it as you would with certain driving schools that are not always mandated to get one’s driver’s license but by completing them, your insurance costs are reduced once you start driving. 

Having the Florida Responsible Vendor designation is also a great marketing tool for restaurants and bars as it means customers can be assured that they are being served by trained professionals.

How much does a bartending certification cost?

The training required to be able to be hired by an employer operating under the Florida Responsible Vendor Act costs anywhere from $7.50 to $14.95 depending on which course you take. 

If the course that you are looking at costs more than this, then we advise you to proceed with caution as there exist many scammers who wish to capitalize on training like this. 

Oftentimes, employers will get a discount on the courses by signing up as a company so be sure to check with your potential employer regarding this before paying for it yourself. 

How much do bartenders make hourly in Florida?

According to Indeed.com, bartenders make roughly $15.55 an hour in Florida. Now, this number will vary significantly from bar to bar. For instance, if you are bartending at the hottest beachfront bar in Miami then you will likely be making much more money in tips than at a local eatery in Lakeland.

How old do I have to be to serve alcohol?

In Florida, you have to be 18 years old to serve alcohol. However, many employers won’t consider you until you are 21 for simple liability purposes.

Do I need a clean criminal history to be a bartender in Florida?

You will need a clean criminal history for at least five years prior to the year you are applying to work as a bartender. 

This is simply because it is considered unlawful for an alcohol vendor to employ an individual as a bartender if they have been convicted in the past five years. This includes criminal offenses in Florida as well as in any other state across the country.  

Final remarks

Now that you are well-versed on the topic of how to become a bartender in Florida, you’re one step closer to understanding the fascinating world of the global hospitality industry.

Remember, you don’t need a bartending license but you may need to undergo some quick training depending on your employer.