What Certifications you Need to Work as a Bartender in Canada

Bartending is one of those skills that have universal applications – from Moscow to Montreal, Toronto to Tokyo, the skills of being a bartender translate well across borders.  If you are thinking of a working holiday, Canada makes a good destination and there are visas for students and travellers that allow them to work for a certain length of time.

It’s a fact that Bartending in Canada is a good job with potentially great income. You can get an average of almost $60,000 in one year. A bartender may possibly be endorsed or take other contracts in a restaurant with a larger salary.

Normally a bartender makes between $9.00 to $11.00 (all prices in Canadian dollars ) for each hour depending on the province they’re working in – server wages are lower than minimum wages as tips are supposed to make up for the difference; for instance in Ontario minimum wage for servers is $9.80 versus the general minimum wage of $11.25. However with tips they can usually make 2-4 times their hourly wages. In some cases, depending on where you work, tips alone can cover your rent.


The way to creating a handsome amount of money is to work in a busy location and ideally evening or weekend shifts that has good regular customers and serves a lot of drinks. Always aim to get the busy shifts and be specialized, accountable and honest.

These days practical experience is of more value than four year degrees. Bartending as a job is also including one of those lines where somebody can just jump in and earn a lot of money on condition that they are good at making drinks and have a great personality.

Canada’s provinces are all moving towards requiring bartenders, servers and other people who work with alcohol to have some kind of training. In Canada’s largest province, Ontario, servers, supervision and even bar vendors or their licensees now need to get Smart Serve certification (also accepted in British Columbia and Alberta); other provinces have similar requirements that cover the same fundamentals around serving drinks and your legal responsibilities and create a safe, pleasurable atmosphere for customers.


Licence Requirements for Select Provinces:



The Wild Rose Country’s Gaming and Alcohol Commission created ProServe to guarantee nontoxic and legal sale and service of liquor by everybody in the industry. ProServe is mandatory for all staff, both full and part-time.


The Ontario province has a required program called Smart Serve that is taught to individuals and groups, either online or in-class teaching. There is no age limit for this course however you must be 18 years to serve alcohol (one year younger than the age you can consume) in Ontario.


New Brunswick:

The Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick has It’s Good Business: Responsible Beverage Service. The program is available in two options for either servers or management, and is designed to ensure staff and patrons enjoy a safe, responsible time while drinking

Saskatchewan’s program is SIRS or Serve It Right Saskatchewan. At present it is only recommended that servers have it, however the Government of Saskatchewan are moving towards it being required.

This gives a bit of an introduction to working in Canada, for visa requirements see the Government of Canada website under visas.