Ready to shake things up in the Peach State? Here’s everything you need to know to become a certified mixologist and launch your career in the exciting world of bartending.
Georgia (GA) Bartender License
In many states, you need a bartending license to sell alcohol. But is this the case in Georgia?
Georgia does not require any alcohol certification, but it may be advised that you carry out alcohol awareness training anyway. It is certainly useful to have a bartender license in Georgia. Let’s explain why.
Do You Need a License to Bartend in Georgia?
No, The Alcohol and Tobacco Division of the Georgia Department of Revenue does not require anybody in Georgia to hold an alcohol server license if they wish to sell alcohol. This means there is no need to undergo alcohol training in the state. However, it may still be wise to take a course that provides alcohol certification.
Also, depending on the city or county you’re working in, a certification may be required. For instance, here are some cities with requirements for RASS (Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service) training.
- City of Decatur
- City of Kennesaw
- City of Lilburn
- City of Holly Springs
- City of Powder Springs
- City of Roswell
- City of Smyrna
- City of Hiram
- Cherokee County
- Cobb County
- Douglas County
- Forsyth County
- Oconee County
We recommend you search for “alcohol server permit for (a city in Georgia)” to see if you need one to bartend. From what we saw when researching, most of the permits require taking a short test and possibly a fee. Some may require a background check too.
Some Businesses Require a Certification
While convenience stores are unlikely ever to require you to need a license because state laws do not require it, many major bars and clubs are serious about alcohol server training. This is because they go in heavy on their responsible serving. After all, a company that doesn’t practice responsible serving will likely lose its license. It can also impact their insurance.
If you wish to become a bartender, you may find that you have more job options once you complete a course. Since many people do not wish to follow a training program to become a bartender in Georgia, you would have the advantage.
One of the great things is that most courses about serving alcohol will not be that expensive anyway.
Some Counties Require Certification
While there is no overall state requirement to undergo alcohol server training, it may be required at a county level.
The counties in Georgia that tend to require alcohol server certification will be the dry states, mostly because they are more ‘wary’ of alcohol and want to promote responsible serving. However, some wet states also have requirements to undergo at least basic training before serving alcoholic beverages.
It is worth going through server training, regardless of where you plan on working. Having certification makes you much more mobile as a worker.
It Gives You Confidence
Serving alcohol can be quite scary. When you serve alcohol, you have a huge amount of responsibility. While there is no state-specific responsible serving certification, there are still laws in Georgia that require bartenders to ensure they are serving alcohol to those above the minimum age and those not intoxicated. One slip-up can lead to some rather harsh penalties, both for the server (potential job loss) and the business (fine, loss of license).
So, completing alcohol training, even if it is just a short course, can help give you confidence when serving alcohol. You become better at your job.
How Do You Get a Bartender License, Georgia?
So, by now, you know that training isn’t required in the regulations to serve alcohol on premises in the vast majority of places in Georgia. However, you also know that it is probably worth undergoing anyway. So how do you do it? Well, there are a few options.
Perhaps the quickest way to jump into bartending in Georgia is to complete an online training course. You will have to choose one accredited by the Tobacco & Tax Division, although they aren’t that hard to find.
These courses cost $10 to $40 and don’t take long to complete. They are just there to teach you how to carry out responsible serving, not to be an actual bartender.
These are rarer nowadays, and they may cost you more cash. However, there are still state-accredited in-person courses. You will need to hunt down a bartender school near you. There are plenty throughout Georgia, so this isn’t that much of a problem.
Due to the higher cost, you may want to avoid in-person courses unless you have no choice. Finishing your course online is enough, and it will be fine to work at any premises requiring a license.
We have a list of some bartending schools in the Atlanta area here.
The certification you receive from these courses will be valid for three years. So, after three years, you must complete the course again. Although, since these courses are rarely more than $10-$40, it isn’t going to break the bank.
Finding Accredited Courses
If you wish to meet the certificate regulations, you must complete training that issues a certificate accredited by the Alcohol and Tobacco Division of the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Every bartender school in Georgia will offer a certificate, and they will make sure to highlight that the certificates are 100% valid for working within Georgia.
Online courses should also tell you whether their certificates are valid for use in Georgia. If you are unsure, then make sure that you contact the company.
If you’re doing alcohol delivery, the Department of Revenue has a list of approved training companies.
Bartender License Requirements
Any certification course will require you to be at least 18. You do not need to know about bartending beyond this.
How Much Do Bartenders Make on Average in Georgia?
This will depend on the county where you work, the quality of the establishment, and your experience.
Most bartender jobs in the state will pay between $18,000 and $ 25,000. Expect to be paid closer to the minimum if you are new to the business. Although, you can receive tips, which should bump up the income a little.
Can You Be a Bartender With No Experience?
We have discussed how you can easily become a bartender without being licensed, but can you be one without experience? Well, it depends.
If the bar is pretty basic, i.e. just pulling a few beers, some basic cocktails, and perhaps some wine, then you probably don’t need that much experience. It isn’t the most fun job for those who have set their heart on bartending, but it is a good stepping stone.
Once you start getting into the higher class establishments where mixology and knowledge of alcohol play a role, you will likely need a good amount of experience. Many of these places won’t even bother recruiting somebody who hasn’t gone through bartending school.
Wet/Dry Counties of Georgia – Where To Sell Alcohol
The great news is that no county in Georgia is 100% dry. So, if you have a bartender license in Georgia, the state is your oyster. However, bear in mind that certain counties have some restrictions.
Dry Counties of Georgia
The following counties bar the retail sale of distilled spirits only. This means that you won’t be impacted if you are a bartender:
- Coweta County
- Dodge County
- Effingham County
- Lumpkin County
- Union County
- The city of Helen in White County
If you are a bartender, you cannot legally serve distilled spirits in any of these counties. So, if you have your heart set on proper bartending, then you may want to steer clear:
- Bleckley County
- Butts County
- Decatur County
- Hart County
- Murray County
- Upson County
- White County (excluding Helen)
In conclusion, while Georgia does not require a bartending license, obtaining one before beginning your career as a bartender is highly recommended. Many businesses, especially major bars and clubs, require certification to ensure responsible serving practices, and some counties may also require it. Additionally, obtaining a license can boost your confidence, making you a better bartender overall. You can get certified through in-person or online courses, both valid for three years. Overall, investing in certification and training can expand job options, increase income, and improve your skills as a bartender.
If you’re interested in bartending in other American states, we’ve written an article about bartending requirements across America here.