Massachusetts Bartending License Requirements

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: March 3, 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.

While it is a fairly low-paying job, many states restrict who can be a bartender. Most states require prospective bartenders to undergo alcohol server training, but what about Massachusetts? Do you need Mass TIPS certification?

On a state level, the Massachusetts bartending requirements are minimal. There is no need to undergo alcohol training. Ideally, you would be at least 21 to serve alcohol, but anybody under 21 can serve with supervision.

Do You Need Mass TIPS Certification?

You do not need to be TIPS certified to work as a bartender in Massachusetts, at least in most counties and towns.

This means you could waltz into a job without alcohol training. Although, it is unlikely. Most reputable establishments demand a Massachusetts TIPS certification. You may struggle to get a job if you don’t have it.

We will discuss why becoming a certified TIPS server may be worth shortly. However, we know many of you may be unaware of what TIPS alcohol training is.

What Is a TIPS Certification?

TIPS certification is essentially responsible alcohol training. It is a skills-based training program that teaches the responsible service of alcohol. The whole aim is to help prevent alcohol-related tragedies.

TIPS course material will cover the following:

  • Underage drinking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Spotting potential alcohol-related problems.

Those that complete TIPS training are qualified to offer a responsible alcohol service. For example, certificate holders will know how to deal with drunk patrons, tell somebody they cannot drink at that establishment, and inform the police of any issues.

Why You May Benefit From Alcohol Training and Getting TIPS Certified

As we mentioned earlier, Massachusetts has no overall requirement to become TIPS-certified. However, there are several reasons why you may want to become one of the countless TIPS-trained servers in the state.

Many Bars and Clubs Require It

Most bars and clubs will require that any employee serving alcohol has a TIPS bartender license. It provides the business with legal protection should their employee accidentally serve alcohol to a minor or somebody well over the limit.

Many insurance providers will require every alcohol-serving employee to hold a TIPS certification card. Many insurance companies will void the policy if an employee does not hold a TIPS certification card. This means that if a business does have any issues, the insurance company won’t be there to protect them. Most bars and clubs aren’t fans of paying out thousands of dollars to settle legal disputes.

Insurance companies provide discounts when every alcohol server is TIPS certified.

It is also worth noting that TIPS training can lead to increased customer satisfaction results. This is because properly-trained employees can keep bars and clubs relatively issue-free.

If you have an existing TIPS alcohol certification, you may find it far easier to gain a job.

It May Be Required In Some Counties and Towns

While an alcohol certification is not required at a state level, you may find that to work in some counties and towns in Massachusetts; you need to have completed TIPS alcohol training. This means that those that have completed the TIPS skills training will find they have more opportunities to work throughout the state.

TIPS Training Gives You Confidence When Serving

If you have never worked in a bar, you are in for a shock. It is an incredibly tough environment to work in. It is fast-paced, and you are dealing with people who could potentially be drunk/angry/underage.

While people skills are important for working in a bar (and all areas of hospitality), you need so much more than that to thrive. You need to know how to deal with tough situations without worsening them. Imagine working in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day! Could you deal with all of the drunk revellers?

TIPS training enhances people’s knowledge of how to deal with issues that may occur in a bar. For example, dealing with drunk patrons, preventing drunk driving, etc. When a person knows how to deal with these situations properly, then not only do they have more confidence, but the bar is safer.

This is one of the main reasons why we recommend Massachusetts TIPS certification. Even if you don’t legally require it, you will likely find that you are a much more confident bartender after completing your training.

How To Find TIPS Alcohol Online Training

While bartending schools will offer a certified TIPS trainer, attending an in-person course can be expensive. This is why many people opt to complete TIPS online.

TIPS alcohol online training will teach you the same things you would learn in an in-person course, but you can complete it in your own time. You will probably be paying less for the certificate, too (anywhere from $10 to $40).

You will find the training conducted through web-based tools. In most cases, it will be a series of videos, documents, and some questions. You won’t be interacting with an actual instructor, although most companies offer online support if you run into issues or need guidance.

There is certainly no shortage of places that offer TIPS alcohol training online. Just make sure that any courses you find are suitable for use in Massachusetts and the county/town in which you plan on working.

Remember, you will need a valid passport or valid Massachusetts driver’s license as an ID during registration. This way, the online course provider can ensure they provide a certificate to the right person.

How Long Does a TIPS Online Course Take?

This will depend on the course provider and whether you are doing online or in-person training.

However, working through any video and printed materials should take between 4 and 5 hours.

Does TIPS Certification Expire?

Does TIPS Certification Expire? The certificate received from TIPS alcohol training will last three years. At that point, it needs to be renewed. Once again, you can get your certification online. It will only take about 3-4 hours every few years.

Can You Fail The TIPS Final Exam?

Before you get your TIPS certification online, you must complete a quick test. It will be a multiple-choice test, so it isn’t too difficult if you have paid attention to the course material.

While you can fail the test online, you can normally retake it. You may need to go through your TIPS sessions again, though.

We promise you that gaining TIPS certification isn’t tough. As long as you make reasonable efforts to learn, passing the test is easy, and you will immediately get your Mass tips certification online.

How Much Do Bartenders Make in Massachusetts?

According to websites like Indeed and Intuit, the average base salary for a bartender in Massachusetts is $24.41 or $35,000 per year as of 2023, according to Intuit Mint’s data based on tax returns. This will depend on where you work, though. Many bartenders in Massachusetts have reported earning as little as $13 an hour with tips included.


While Massachusetts has minimal requirements for bartending, most establishments prefer to hire individuals with TIPS certification. What Is a TIPS Certification? The TIPS certification teaches responsible alcohol service, including spotting alcohol-related problems and handling drunk patrons. Besides, it may be a requirement in some counties and towns, and many bars and clubs require it to protect their business legally. Additionally, it may lead to increased customer satisfaction, and insurance providers provide discounts when every alcohol server is TIPS certified. Completing a TIPS online course is an excellent way to gain certification at a lower cost, and it can give bartenders confidence and enhance their knowledge of dealing with issues that may occur in a bar.

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