Can a Felon Become a Bartender? Is It Possible?

Felony convictions can have a significant impact on one’s ability to secure employment. However, there are industries where people with felony convictions can find employment, and the hospitality industry is one of them. Specifically, bartending is a popular profession that many individuals with felony convictions have considered. But can a felon become a bartender? In this article, we will explore the answer to this question and what steps a felon can take to become a bartender.

Can a Felon Become a Bartender?

A felon is someone who has been convicted of a serious crime, typically a felony offense, and has served time in prison or jail. Felony convictions can result in significant social and economic consequences, including difficulty securing employment. This is especially true for jobs that require certification or background checks. However, bartending is an industry that may offer opportunities for felons.

Also Read: How to Report a Felon in Possession of a Firearm?

Can a Felon Become a Bartender
Can a Felon Become a Bartender

Qualifications and Requirements for Becoming a Bartender

To become a bartender, one needs to meet certain qualifications and requirements. While there is no specific degree required to become a bartender, some employers prefer candidates who have completed a bartending course or a hospitality management program. Most states require bartenders to be at least 18 or 21 years old, depending on the state’s minimum legal drinking age. Additionally, bartenders must have good communication and customer service skills, be physically fit, and have a keen eye for detail.

Bartenders are also required to hold certain certifications, such as a food handler’s card and a bartending certification. The latter typically involves completing a training program that covers topics such as alcohol safety, responsible serving practices, and mixology. Bartenders may also need to obtain a permit or license to serve alcohol, depending on state and local laws.

Also Read: Can Felons Join the National Guard? (Check Our Answer)

Legal Considerations for Felons Seeking Employment in the Hospitality Industry

Federal law does not prohibit employers from hiring felons, but it does provide some limitations on certain types of employment, such as jobs in the transportation industry. States and localities may have their own laws regarding the hiring of felons, and some employers may have policies against hiring individuals with certain criminal records.

However, in recent years, many states and employers have adopted “ban the box” policies that remove the requirement for job applicants to disclose their criminal history on initial job applications. This provides an opportunity for felons to be evaluated based on their qualifications and skills rather than their past mistakes.

Strategies for Felons Seeking Employment as Bartenders

Felons seeking employment as bartenders can take several steps to improve their chances of securing a job. The following strategies may be helpful:

  1. Be honest about the felony conviction: Honesty is always the best policy. While it may be tempting to conceal a criminal history, this can lead to legal and employment consequences down the line. Instead, be upfront about the conviction and use it as an opportunity to demonstrate rehabilitation and personal growth.
  2. Demonstrate good behavior and rehabilitation: Employers may be more willing to hire felons who have demonstrated good behavior and rehabilitation since their conviction. This can include completing educational programs, participating in community service, and obtaining certifications.
  3. Acquire relevant skills and certifications: Bartending requires specific skills and knowledge. Felons can improve their chances of being hired by completing bartending courses, obtaining certifications, and gaining relevant experience.
  4. Network and seek referrals: Personal connections can be valuable in the job search process. Networking with industry professionals and seeking referrals from former employers, coworkers, or mentors can help felons secure job opportunities.
  5. Consider entrepreneurship: Starting a business, such as a bar or a restaurant, maybe a viable option for felons seeking employment in the hospitality industry. This requires significant planning and investment but can provide greater control over one’s employment situation.

Also Read: Can a Felon Get an FHA Loan? Explore the Possibilities


In conclusion, felons may be able to become bartenders, but the process requires honesty, rehabilitation, and relevant qualifications. While felony convictions can limit employment opportunities, the hospitality industry offers potential for felons seeking a second chance. By acquiring the necessary skills, certifications, and experience, felons can demonstrate their value as bartenders and gain employment in this field.


What felony convictions disqualify a person from becoming a bartender?

The specific convictions that disqualify someone from becoming a bartender may vary depending on state and local laws. However, convictions related to drug or alcohol offenses or violent crimes may be considered disqualifying factors.

What is the process of getting a bartending certification?

The process of obtaining a bartending certification typically involves completing a training program that covers topics such as alcohol safety, responsible serving practices, and mixology.

Can a bartender with a felony conviction get a liquor license?

This may depend on state and local laws, but a felony conviction can make it more difficult to obtain a liquor license. However, demonstrating rehabilitation and good behavior may increase the chances of obtaining a license.

Can a felon become a bartender in all states?

Each state may have its own laws and regulations regarding the employment of felons, so it is important to research specific requirements in each state.

How can a felon start their own bar or restaurant?

Starting a bar or restaurant as a felon may be challenging, but it is possible with careful planning, investment, and attention to legal requirements. Seeking guidance from professionals and experienced entrepreneurs can be helpful in this process.

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