How to Become a Bartender in Tennessee

Potential bartenders must obtain a permit to serve alcohol in Tennessee. In order to obtain a Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission server permit, bartenders must complete a five-hour alcohol awareness training course approved by the Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission. Program content includes a blood alcohol content review, rates of alcohol absorption and effects of alcohol consumption. Future bartenders also learn how to determine which situations require server intervention, non-confrontational manners of communication and how to respond to intoxicated and underage drinkers. Bartenders have 61 days from the date of hire to complete the course, and the permit remains valid for five years.


Step 1

Be at least 18 years old with no felony convictions in the previous four years, and no felony convictions involving the sale of alcohol, beer, schedule I or II controlled substances, sex-related crimes or embezzlement within the previous eight years. Permit applicants can have no revoked server permits in other jurisdictions within the last five years. The commission will not issue a permit to any individual with ownership interest in a wholesale or retail liquor-by-the-drink establishment, or anyone with a revoked beer license or permit within the last eight years. "Liquor-by-the-drink" refers to restaurants, hotels, or private clubs that sell and dispense alcohol with a content greater than five percent, such as liquor and wine.


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Step 2

Complete a program at a professional bartender school prior to taking the alcohol awareness course. Attending a bartender school provides complete instruction on bartending and aids in finding a desirable position.

Step 3

Visit the Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission website to obtain a list of approved alcohol awareness programs with corresponding trainers (see "Resources"). Contact or visit local restaurants that serve alcohol to inquire about the course. Look for a Commission certification license posting. Ask to view the printed materials used for the course. All commission-certified programs will have "This program has been certified by the Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission as currently satisfying the requirements of the Alcohol Server Responsibility and Training Act of 1995" on all printed material used in the program.


Step 4

Attend the course in publicly accessible location. Do not register for an online course; completing online courses will not satisfy Tennessee's permit requirements. Contact the trainer listed under the desired program to register. First-time servers have 61 days to take the course after accepting a position as a server. Pay the fee. As of September 2011, class prices range from $60 to $75.


Step 5

Complete the course and pass the written examination. Prospective servers must pass the written test with a grade of 70 percent or better to receive a server permit. If the program requires a higher passing grade, the server must adhere to that program's guideline. A student has 30 days to retake failed examinations. Students who fail to retake the test in 30 days must complete the training course a second time.


Step 6

Obtain the application and certificate after completing the program. The trainer provides the application and certificate. Submit the certificate and notarized application to the commission along with a $20 application fee, as of September 2011. Applicants may submit by mail with a money order to the commission address on the application. In some cases, the trainer submits the application and fee on behalf of the student. Applicants may also submit the application in person to the Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis or Nashville offices between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Fees must be in the form of a money order or cashier's check. Applicants must submit permit applications within one year of completing the course.


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