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You can bartend in Florida if you are 18 or older. A license is not required, but a safe alcohol serving course is recommended. Florida is home to popular beaches, amusement parks and many bars and nightclubs, which draw vacationers from across the globe. Skilled bartenders are always in demand and many positions offer lucrative earnings and flexible schedules. Tending bar in Florida can be an exciting and profitable job, but you must meet requirements to secure a job in Florida’s booming hospitality industry.
Florida laws require that you be 18 years of age or older to serve alcohol. Applicants who are 16-17 years old can fill positions that do not require serving or handling alcohol, such as hosts and cooks. All establishments that serve alcoholic beverages to the public must possess a state liquor license. The legal drinking age in Florida is 21 years of age and the state’s liquor licenses are only issued to applicants who are 21 or older.
The state of Florida does not require you to have a permit or license to work as a bartender. Nor does Florida require mandatory alcohol service training for employees who serve alcohol to the public. Mitigation benefits are offered to alcohol-serving establishments that take part in Florida’s “Responsible Vendor Program.” Establishments cited for improper alcohol serving practices may not face penalties or may receive lighter sentencing if they can prove that their employees had successfully completed a safe alcohol serving course approved by the State of Florida.
While Florida only requires an employee to be 18 years old or over to serve alcohol, many bars and restaurants prefer to hire employees who are at least 21 years old. Many hospitality industry managers believe that hiring an employee of legal drinking age might prevent bartenders from serving underage friends or illegally drinking alcohol themselves. Although not required, job seekers might find it beneficial to take a safe alcohol training class prior to applying for work. However, many establishments gladly hire younger applicants or those without safe service training, so individuals who fall in these categories should not be deterred from applying.
The 2009 Florida statute 562.13 restricts the following persons from employment as bartenders or managers in an establishment that serves alcohol: individuals who have been convicted of a felony or convicted of breaking any alcohol law set forth by the state of Florida, any other state, or the federal government in the five years prior to seeking employment. Furthermore, you may not work for these establishments if you have been convicted by the state of Florida, any other state or the federal government for soliciting for prostitution, pandering, letting premises for prostitution, keeping a disorderly place, or any felony violation of chapter 893 or the controlled substance act of any other state or the federal government in the five years prior to seeking employment.
River Hebda, a freelancer born and raised in Western Massachusetts, began her writing career in 2001 as a business writer. She has worked with clients in many fields, including food and beverage, music and sports. Hebda earned her Bachelor of Arts in business management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.