How To Become a Bartender in Hawaii

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Bartending in Hawaii sounds like a fun and exotic job—no shortage of resorts, restaurants, and bars. There are always in need of bartenders to serve both locals and tourists alike. 

So what does it take to become a bartender in Hawaii? Are there any special classes you have to take or licenses to get before you can start applying for bartending jobs at your dream location? 

Hawaii has slightly more complicated requirements for bartenders to navigate than many mainland US states. The rules and other requirements vary depending on the county or city you are looking to bartend in rather than statewide.

In the rest of this article, we will break down the essential things for bartenders hoping to work in Hawaii to know before starting a job search. 

Who Can Serve Alcohol in Hawaii?

Anyone who is over the age of 18 is eligible to serve alcohol in the state of Hawaii, except for Maui. In Maui, the current laws require anyone serving alcoholic beverages to be over 21. 

Depending on which city or county you wish to bartend in, you may need to obtain a bartending license or take specific training to be employed as a bartender. 

It’s important to know the specific rules for bartending in your county or city, especially if you are new to Hawaii or have recently moved from another region within Hawaii.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Serve Alcohol in Hawaii?

Most counties in Hawaii require anyone who is going to be serving or handling alcohol to be at least 18 years old to serve alcoholic beverages.

The county of Maui has its own set of rules that requires bartenders to be a minimum age of 21 years old.

Does Hawaii Require a Bartender License?

Hawaii has no statewide requirements for bartenders because the individual cities and counties outline the rules. All these regions are responsible for creating and enforcing their own rules regarding bartending regulations. 

The only region in Hawaii that currently requires a bartender license is the county of Honolulu. If you hope to work as a bartender in a bar, restaurant, or club anywhere in the city of Honolulu, you will need to take the required training and obtain a Liquor Card.

If you want to attend a bartending school, Hawaii has several national chains, including ABC Bartending School and National Bartending School operating in the state.

What Is Liquor Card Certification?

The Liquor Card (officially called a Certificate of Registration) is the golden ticket to getting a bartending job anywhere in Honolulu County. 

Bartenders are required to successfully complete server training to get their Liquor Cards employed at any establishment serving alcohol. Most establishments only require this training from bartenders, so servers and other food service staff are exempt from this requirement. 

How Do You Get a Liquor Card Certification?

Getting your Liquor Card requires some legwork, so it’s important to be prepared to complete all the necessary steps. 

Here is a brief overview of how to go about getting your Liquor Card Certification: 

  1. Complete a Server Training course (dates and times available on the Honolulu Liquor Commission website)
  2. Take and Pass the Server Training test upon course completion
  3. Bring the completed registration form to Honolulu Liquor Commission Office along with the following:
    1. Valid Government-issued Photo ID (Driver’s License, Military ID, State ID Card, US Passport)
    2. Original Social Security Card (can get this from the Social Security Office or their website)
    3. Printed Wage and Tax Statement (W-2) from the most recent tax year (not photo)
    4. $10 processing fee
    5. Copy of your Server Training Certificate of Completion 

The above steps outline everything you need to get a preliminary Liquor Card certification so you can start bartending in Honolulu ASAP. The process may differ slightly if you are applying for a manager-level position or are recertifying. 

It’s important to check the Honolulu Liquor Commission website often for any changes to regulations or forms so you can make sure you have the proper paperwork completed to obtain your card. 

How Long Is a Liquor Card Certification Good For?

A Liquor Card certification is good for four years. Once you have completed the initial process and received your card, you are ready. 

Once you have the certification, you must retake the Server Training every four years to remain current. If you let your card lapse, you will need to take the training and pass the test again to get a new card issued. 

Can You Take the Server Training Online?

The Server Training required to obtain a Liquor Card certification is only held in person. Currently, there is no plan to make virtual Server Training classes available. 

Server Training classes are offered multiple times each week from 8:30 am -11 am with the hope that it will be easy to find time to attend. You don’t need to sign up beforehand, so you can attend whenever best fits your schedule. 

Do You Need a Liquor Card Certification if You Work Outside of Honolulu?

The Liquor Card certification is only for Honolulu County. If you aren’t planning on working in Honolulu, you do not need to obtain a card. Check the requirements of the county where you work to find out what steps you need to complete to become a bartender there. 

How Much Do Bartenders Make Hourly in Hawaii?

Bartender wages in Hawaii fall under the tipped minimum wage employee category. The tipped minimum wage in Hawaii is $10.10 per hour. 

However, there is some additional regulation depending on how much the bartender makes in tips that can impact the overall wage due to a tip credit system. 

Bartenders (and all other tipped employees in Hawaii) must earn $19 per hour when hourly wage, tips, and state tip credit are applied. If not, the employer is responsible for paying the employee a flat $12 per hour wage and cannot take the tip credit. 

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