How To Get a Bartending License in Texas

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: April 14, 2024
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Texas is one of the fastest-growing States in America, so you figure there must be a lot of jobs for bartenders in the Lone Star State.

If you’re living in Texas already or are planning to move there soon, bartending might be a good job to land. Licencing requirements differ for states in the Union, and you probably have some questions, like what are the requirements to work as a bartender or server in Texas?

In this article, we’ll cover the requirements to sell alcohol in the State of Texas, what the TABC is and why you should get one.

Do You Need a Bartending License in Texas?

The simple answer is no; you don’t need a licence to bartend in Texas. You do need to be 18 years old to work as a bartender, but you can still sell alcohol at a younger age, say, at a convenience or grocery store.

You must prove you are legally allowed to work in Texas, including some government ID. Texas accepts valid driver’s licenses from not only Texas but other states in the Union and even Canada. Voter registration cards, military ID cards and school ID cards for those under 18 years old are also acceptable.

Depending on your employer, though, they may require that you have certification from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). As expected, TABC handles licenses and permits and offers the TABC Certification, called the Texas Responsible Alcohol Delivery Training program.

How Do I Get My TABC License in Texas?

The TABC certificate (Texas Responsible Alcohol Delivery Training) is issued by schools and training centers authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

TABC regulates the Texas alcoholic beverage industry and certifies seller/server training courses.

The TABC recommends (but doesn’t require) that all servers of alcohol have a Responsible Serving of Alcohol Certificate. However, many retailers will require certification before employment. Besides being trained to handle potentially difficult situations with intoxicated guests, hiring only TABC-certified employees protects employers from some liabilities under the Alcoholic Beverage Code. For more information, see the TABC FAQ on the agency’s website.

Taking the course will take about two hours. Topics covered include checking IDs and drunk driving intervention techniques.

We’ve written a full article answering common questions about TABC certification here.

What is TABC?

TABC is the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, a government agency that oversees the sales of alcohol as well as licencing establishments and combatting public safety threats, including drunk driving and human trafficking.

TABC requires all retailers of alcohol to have a permit or license.

Essentially, if you are selling, serving, or hosting events where alcohol will be served in Texas, you will usually be dealing with TABC.

There are two kinds of certificates, one for Seller/Servers and another for Delivery people (like Uber Eats and similar services). You’ll want to take the Seller/Servers certification as a bartender or waitstaff.

The Servers certifications will cover topics like:

  • Laws and rules related to alcohol sales.
  • Intervention techniques to prevent sales to minors and intoxicated customers.

TABC offers services like the Alcohol Industry Management System (AIMS) and guidance for alcohol retailers on how to comply with legal requirements for advertisements, promotions, on-premise signage, discounts, coupons and loyalty programs.

Understanding the Responsibilities of a Bartender in Texas

When becoming a bartender in Texas, it is important to understand and fulfil your responsibilities to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for your customers.

Some of your primary responsibilities will include serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to customers, checking IDs to ensure that customers are of legal drinking age, and accurately recording and processing transactions.

You will also be responsible for maintaining a clean and organized workspace and adhering to all relevant laws and regulations related to alcohol sales and service.

In addition, it is important to possess strong communication and customer service skills and to be able to handle potentially difficult situations, such as dealing with intoxicated or disruptive customers, professionally and responsibly.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your TABC Certification?

Not including the study time, It takes about two hours to complete the test for the TABC bartender certificate. There are no penalties for retaking the exam, so don’t worry if you don’t get it the first time.

How To Choose a Bartending Training Program in Texas?

Choosing the right bartending training program in Texas can be an important step in your career as a bartender. There are a few key factors to consider when selecting a training program.

First, ensure the program is approved by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). This ensures that the program meets the state’s seller/server training standards and will qualify you to obtain a TABC certification.

Next, consider the duration and cost of the program, as well as the convenience of the location and scheduling options. It may also be helpful to research the reputation and experience of the instructors and the overall quality of the training materials and resources.

Finally, consider whether the program offers additional resources or support, such as job placement assistance or continuing education opportunities.

What Is the Job Market Like for Bartenders in Texas?

The economic outlook for the bartending industry in Texas is generally positive, with employment opportunities expected to be plentiful in the coming years. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of bartenders in Texas is projected to grow by 8% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

This growth is expected to be driven by increased tourism and the continued expansion of the food and beverage industry.

According to the job website, the average salary for bartenders in Texas in 2023 is $15.71 and $150 in tips per day.

There are many great places to work as a bartender in Texas, with a wide range of options depending on your interests and career goals.

What Cities Are Good Places for Bartending Work?

Some popular cities for bartenders in Texas include Houston, Dallas, and Austin, which have vibrant food and beverage scenes and high demand for skilled bartenders.

Other cities with a strong bartending industry include San Antonio, Fort Worth, and El Paso. Some popular schools in Texas for students seeking a vibrant campus life include the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston.

In addition to working at traditional bars and restaurants, you may also consider working at hotels, casinos, event venues, or other establishments serving alcohol.

Other factors to consider when looking for a bartending job in Texas include the type of establishment (such as a high-end restaurant or a casual bar), the size and location of the establishment, and the benefits and compensation offered by the employer.

Some Common Questions on Bartending Certification in Texas

Do I need a bartending license to work as a bartender in Texas?

No, a bartending license is not required to work as a bartender in Texas. However, many employers may require certification from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) as a condition of employment.

What are the requirements to work as a bartender in Texas?

A: To work as a bartender in Texas, you must be at least 18 years old and able to prove that you are legally allowed to work in the state. This may include a valid driver’s license, voter registration card, military ID, or school ID for those under 18.

How do I get my TABC certification in Texas?

To get your TABC certification in Texas, you must complete a TABC-approved seller/server training program. These programs are offered by schools and training centres authorized by the TABC and cover topics such as checking IDs, preventing sales to minors and intoxicated customers, and intervention techniques. The program typically takes about two hours to complete, and the certification is valid for five years.

Is the TABC certification required to work as a bartender in Texas?

No, the law does not require the TABC certification to work as a bartender in Texas. However, many employers may require it as a condition of employment. Additionally, obtaining a TABC certification can benefit your job prospects and provide you with important knowledge and skills related to alcohol safety and responsible service.

How long is a TABC certification valid?

Your seller training certification is valid for two years from its date.

What if I lose my TABC card?

You should contact the school you took training from. If you can’t reach them, go to the Certificate Inquiry page on the TABC website, and you can email them to request a new one. On the same page, employers can also check if you have a valid TABC certificate.

See the TABC FAQ on the agency’s website for the address to email them and the information they require.

Are there any alternatives to obtaining a TABC certification?

Yes, there are alternatives to obtaining a TABC certification. One option is to obtain a national bartending certification, such as the Certified Professional Bartender (CPB) or the Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS) certification. These certifications are recognized by employers nationwide and can demonstrate your knowledge and skills in the bartending industry. However, it is important to note that these certifications may not be recognized by the TABC or specific employers in Texas and may not meet their requirements for employment.

Are there any other certifications or licenses that I should consider obtaining as a bartender in Texas?

While not required, it may be beneficial for you to consider obtaining a bartending certification, such as taking the Spirits Professional Exam or the Advanced Bartender Certification offered by the United States Bartenders’ Guild. These certifications can help to demonstrate your knowledge and skills as a bartender and may improve your employment prospects.

You might also want to look into taking the Cicerone Beer Server Exam, as this is recognized internationally.

Are any professional development or continuing education opportunities available for bartenders in Texas?

Yes, many professional development and continuing education opportunities are available for bartenders in Texas. These may include workshops, seminars, and online courses covering drink preparation techniques, customer service skills, and responsible alcohol service. Some of these opportunities may be offered by the TABC or professional associations, such as the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG).


To summarize, while you don’t require any licence to bartend in Texas, many employers want their employees to have a valid TABC card. The good news is the training for these can be completed online or in person, and the test itself only takes about two hours to complete.

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