To become a bartender in Wisconsin, you’ll need a little more than just some drink-making skills. To get a job as a bartender, you will need to obtain your “operator’s license” (also called a “bartender’s license”) to serve alcohol. This license is easy to get, but it’s the golden ticket to bartending in Wisconsin.
Keep reading to learn more about this bartending license and how to get one. We will cover everything you need to know to become a bartender in Wisconsin.
Do You Need a License To Be a Bartender in Wisconsin?
Yes, Wisconsin is one of the U.S. states requiring all bartenders to have a license. You will need to get an operator’s license.
You will often hear this license referred to interchangeably as either an “operator’s license” or a “bartender’s license”. Both of these terms refer to the exact same thing, so don’t worry about needing to get multiple licenses to become a bartender in the state of Wisconsin!
Requirements To Serve Alcoholic Beverages in Wisconsin
The requirements to serve alcoholic beverages in Wisconsin are pretty straightforward. You must be 18 years old or older and have a clean criminal history.
The most important requirement in obtaining the all-important operator’s license in Wisconsin must be met. You must apply for the operator’s license in the municipality where you intend to work as a bartender (not necessarily your home municipality if they differ). Still, you are not required to be a Wisconsin resident.
Depending on what kind of establishment you are planning on working in, you may be required to take additional training courses independently or as part of the onboarding process. These requirements will vary, but the main requirements for the state of Wisconsin are always the same.
Responsible Beverage Server Training Courses for Wisconsin
The state of Wisconsin takes the serving of alcoholic beverages seriously. This is why they have made it a requirement for all bartenders seeking an operator’s license to take a responsible beverage server training course.
You can take one of these training courses in person or online at any approved locations listed on revenue.wi.gov. Several vendors offer an approved course, so it should be easy to find one that fits into your life and takes the next step toward your operator’s license.
Qualifications To Get A WI Bartender License
To get your Wisconsin bartender’s (or operator’s license), you need to meet the following requirements:
- Be over the age of 18
- Never convicted of a felony or have a documented history of breaking the law.
- Complete an approved responsible beverage server training program
- Pay any applicable fees required for the operator’s license
Wisconsin’s DRAM Shop Law
A DRAM shop is identified as any establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold. This includes bars, taverns, restaurants, and nightclubs.
The DRAM shop law in Wisconsin states that a dram shop is liable for the acts committed by an intoxicated customer if they are found to have overserved the customer who went on to cause harm.
This is an important law to be aware of when serving alcohol in Wisconsin because you are responsible for deciding whether customers are intoxicated.
How Long Does It Take To Get Your Bartending License in Wisconsin?
When starting as a bartender in Wisconsin, plan for the process to take some time. The best thing to do is to obtain your operator’s license well before you hope to start interviewing for bartending jobs to ensure you have everything in place.
You can usually complete your responsible beverage server course in a few days or weeks, depending on when it’s scheduled. Then you need to apply for the license in person. You can probably complete the process in a few weeks or a month.
How Much Do Bartenders Make in Wisconsin Hourly?
According to Indeed.com, bartenders in Wisconsin make an average of $13.89 an hour as of 2023, nearly double the hourly minimum wage ($7.25).
Depending on the bar you work at, you may make significantly more than that per hour with tips. Indeed.com suggest an average of $130 per day with tips, for an average salary of $24,500, according to intuit.com.
Do Bartenders Make a Lot of Money in Tips in Wisconsin?
The tips you make as a bartender vary quite a bit from establishment to establishment and even from shift to shift at the same bar.
For example, bartenders on weekend nights usually make more than those on weekday day shifts. This is just because the weekend nights are usually busier at most establishments that serve alcohol.
Bartenders make an average of $150 per shift in tips. This is a national average, so you may have shifts where you make much more or much less than this, but you can expect approximately $150 in tips per shift on top of your hourly wage.
If you’re interested in bartending in other American states, we’ve written an article about bartending requirements across America here.