How to Get Your Kentucky Bartender’s License

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

If you want to become a bartender in Kentucky, the good news is there is no required license. However, most employers will require responsible alcohol server training to help you and your employer.

Whether you’re a seasoned bartender or just starting, our complete step-by-step guide will help you achieve your goal of becoming a licensed bartender in Kentucky.

Do You Need a Bartending License in Kentucky?

No, no bartender certification training is required by state law in Kentucky. However, many employers in the state require alcohol training as a precaution to limit their liability in case an employee serves alcohol to someone they shouldn’t.

Bartending License Requirements for Kentucky

To become a bartender in Kentucky, you need only to be of age to serve alcohol, and your employer will likely require you to complete responsible alcohol sales training. Kentucky offers a training program specifically for servers called STAR.

Minimum Age To Serve Alcoholic Beverages In Kentucky:

The minimum age to serve alcoholic beverages in Kentucky is 20; a supervisor must be present on your shift, according to the APIS. This also includes the right to sell alcoholic beverages, such as at convenience or liquor stores, or other businesses that do on premises liquor licenses.

To buy a drink, you must be 21 to buy, consume, or possess alcoholic beverages.

Server Training in Alcoholic Regulations (STAR)

The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control provides courses through the Server Training in Alcohol Laws and Regulations (STAR) course, which includes the following subjects:

  • Familiarizing participants with Kentucky’s alcohol laws and regulations
  • Instructing participants on proper age identification documentation
  • Preventing sales of alcohol to minors
  • Preventing sales of alcohol to intoxicated individuals
  • Encouraging responsible consumption practices
  • Educating students about Kentucky’s liquor laws

Currently, the STAR course costs $41.46. The training lasts about two hours, including a test. On completion, you will receive a Certification valid for three years from the issue date.

You can learn more about STAR on the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control website.

What Is the Job Market Like for Bartenders in Kentucky?

The job market for bartenders in Kentucky is generally favourable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 5,800 bartenders employed in Kentucky as of May 2020. Additionally, the state’s hospitality industry has experienced steady growth in recent years, contributing to increased demand for bartenders.

However, competition for bartending jobs in popular tourist areas or larger cities can be more intense. Bartenders with prior experience, exceptional customer service skills, and a wide knowledge of cocktails and spirits are often more competitive in the job market.

How Much Do Bartenders Make Hourly in Kentucky?

According to websites like Indeed and Intuit, the average base salary for a bartender in Kentucky is $13.10 or $27,000 per year as of 2023, according to Intuit Mint’s data based on tax returns. This will depend on where you work, though.

What Cities Are Good Places for Bartending Work?

Kentucky has several cities that offer good opportunities for bartending work. Some of the best cities for bartending jobs in Kentucky include:

  • Louisville – Louisville has a thriving bar and restaurant scene, with various establishments ranging from upscale cocktail lounges to sports bars. The city is also home to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which attracts tourists worldwide and creates a high demand for knowledgeable bartenders.
  • Lexington – Lexington is another city with a growing food and beverage scene, with many new bars and restaurants opening in recent years. The city also hosts several events and festivals throughout the year, providing additional opportunities for bartenders to showcase their skills.
  • Covington – Covington is located just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, and offers a range of bars and restaurants catering to locals and tourists. The city has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs open late into the night.
  • Bowling Green – Bowling Green is home to Western Kentucky University and has a thriving college bar scene. The city also hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the annual Bourbon and Brewfest.
  • Paducah – Paducah is located in western Kentucky and is known for its art and cultural scene. The city has a variety of bars and restaurants catering to both locals and tourists, with many establishments featuring live music and entertainment.

Overall, these cities offer a range of opportunities for bartenders with different skill levels and interests and are great places to start your bartending career in Kentucky.


In conclusion, while there is no requirement for a bartender license in Kentucky, most employers require their bartenders to have a Responsible Vendor Program (RVP) and alcohol training, or Server Training in Alcohol Regulations (STAR).

The job market for bartenders in Kentucky is generally favourable, with Louisville, Lexington, Covington, Bowling Green, and Paducah offering great opportunities for bartenders of varying skill levels. The average base salary for a bartender in Kentucky is $13.10 or $27,000 per year, and competition for bartending jobs in popular tourist areas or larger cities can be more intense.

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