How To Become a Bartender in Washington State

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Washington State’s thriving food and beverage industry allow aspiring bartenders to turn their passion into a career.

Whether you’re just starting or looking to take your bartending skills to the next level, you need to take a few key steps to become a bartender in the state.

From meeting the minimum age requirements to obtaining necessary certifications, this guide will walk you through becoming a bartender in Washington State.

How To Become a Bartender in Washington State?

To become a bartender in Washington State, the following steps should be followed:

  • Age requirement: You must be at least 21 to serve alcohol in Washington State.
  • Obtain a Food Worker Card: All food and beverage workers in Washington State must obtain a Food Worker Card within 14 days of starting work.
  • Get your MAST permit: You can obtain a Bartender’s License from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB).

On a side note, if you work at a liquor store, instead of a MAST permit, you’ll need to take the Responsible Vendor Program (RVP) training.

Do You Need a License to Bartend in Washington State?

Yes, In Washington state, you must have a bartending license if you work in an establishment like a restaurant or bar. This includes bartenders, servers, and supervisors or managers.

To obtain this license, you must complete a MAST class from a Washington-certified training provider within 60 days of starting your job. You should always carry your MAST permit and a valid form of identification while serving alcohol, as they may be subject to inspection at any time. Some employers may also ask for a copy of your permit, but keeping the original with you is important.

For employees working in off-premise beer, wine, or spirit retail establishments, participation in the Responsible Vendor Program (RVP) is optional. The WSLCB provides standards and sample programs for the training, typically done in-house.

How Old Do You Have To Be to Bartend in Washington

In Washington state, you must be at least 21 years old to bartend and serve alcohol legally. This is in accordance with the state’s minimum age for purchasing and consuming alcohol.

Getting a Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) Permit

To work as a bartender or serve alcohol in Washington state, you must obtain a Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) Permit. This is required by law for those involved in serving, mixing, selling, or supervising the sale of alcohol for on-premise consumption at liquor-licensed establishments. The MAST course must be completed within the first 60 days of employment.

There are two types of MAST permits, depending on your age:

The Class 13 Permit (Ages 18 to 20)

The Class 13 permit allows you to check customer IDs, take alcohol orders, and carry and pour alcohol for customers.

The Class 12 Permit (Ages 21 and up)

The Class 12 permit allows you to draw alcohol from taps, mix drinks, manage the establishment, and conduct tastings with a tasting endorsement.

You can upgrade from a Class 13 to a Class 12 permit once you turn 21.

How Long Does MAST Permit Last?

The MAST permit is valid for five years. Training is offered by state-approved third-party providers or trainers certified by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB).

Classes can be taken online or in a classroom setting and typically last for 3 hours, including an exam. The cost of the training varies but can range from $10 to $45, with online classes typically being cheaper.

Upon successfully completing the course and exam, your provider will issue you a MAST permit and report the completion to the WSLCB within 30 days.

Can You Renew a Washington Permit?

The renewal process for your MAST Server Training permit is straightforward: simply retake the MAST Server Training course. However, there is no leniency period, and it is important to have your renewed permit in hand before your current one expires. To ensure ample time for the renewal process, starting the renewal course at least 30 to 45 days before your permit’s expiration date is recommended.

How Many Questions Are on the MAST Exam?

To pass the MAST exam, you must answer 20 questions correctly, including multiple choice and true or false. The passing score is 100%, and you have three attempts to achieve it. If you fail to pass after three tries, you’ll have to retake the course before taking the exam again.

Checking The Status of Your Permit

To check the status of your Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) permit in Washington State, you can contact the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) by email at or check the MAST permit checker on the website.

You may also contact the training provider or instructor who issued your permit for information on its status. You should have your permit number ready when you reach out to the WSLCB or the training provider for quicker and more accurate assistance.

How Much Money Do Bartenders Make in Washington?

According to websites like Indeed and Intuit, the average base salary is $17.85 or $31,500 per year as of 2023, according to Intuit Mint’s data based on tax returns. Keep in mind that bartenders tend to make a lot of their income from tips, which can vary depending on where and when you’re working in Washington.


In conclusion, obtaining a bartending license in Washington State requires completing the Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) program and obtaining a MAST permit. This permit must be renewed every five years by taking the MAST course again.

The type of permit you receive, either Class 12 or Class 13, will depend on your age. It is important to have your MAST permit and a valid form of ID with you at all times while working, as law enforcement inspections can occur.

If you’re interested in bartending in other American states, we’ve written an article about bartending requirements across America here.