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How Do I Become a Bartender in Ontario, Canada?

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Bartending is a portable skill that can be applied in a variety of locations, including nightclubs, lounges, restaurants, resorts and convention centers. In addition to mixing drinks, bartenders may be required to keep the bar area tidy, handle transactions with customers and manage and control inventory of supplies. The skills needed to become a bartender in Ontario, Canada, aren't that different than anywhere else, though there are some steps you need to take to qualify.

Certification and Education

To work as a bartender in Ontario, you must be at least 18 years of age and earn Smart Serve certification, which is approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Smart Serve training is available online or in-class with the certification test included in the session. Topics include the effects of alcohol consumption, how to serve alcohol responsibly and legal issues related to serving alcohol. The program, test included, takes around four hours to complete. Certification requires a score of 80 percent or higher, with two attempts at the test permitted. As of publication there is no expiry date for Smart Serve certification.

Advanced Education

While it is possible to get a bartending job with a high school degree, postsecondary training is an asset. Both Algonquin College and Conestoga College offer 15-week bartending programs, which include topics such as mixing drinks, inventory control, cost management and customer service. Exams and practical tests are included in the sessions. Participants must be at least 19 years old before the start of classes. An Ontario College Certificate in bartending is awarded upon completion of the program.


Based in Mulmur, Ontario, Lisa Timpf has worked in human resources and communications since 1989. Timpf's corporate roles have included organizational development, internal and external communications, employee relations, employee surveys, and corporate governance. She holds a Bachelor of physical education from McMaster University.

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