How to Become a Sommelier

A Sommelier is someone who’s made their mark for having a vast knowledge of wine. If this sounds like you, you may want to consider becoming a sommelier.

A sommelier’s work may include developing wine lists, menus, and books, offering recommendations and information, or delivering and serving wine to others. Sommelier is a prestigious title that can bring you great pride in carrying.

To succeed as a wine professional, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of wine, wine regions, and the wine industry.

A deep understanding of the best wine pairings and a wine’s origins will help you gain credibility as a master sommelier. You may come across various names for yourself and different positions you end up taking as you continue in your career.

Other Names For A Sommelier

  • Wine steward
  • Wine waiter
  • Sommelier des vins
  • Oeonophile

How do you gain one of these credible names? You can always self-proclaim yourself as a wine connoisseur and oenophile, or you can take the path of earning certification.

Do You Need Certification to Become a Sommelier?

One of the significant aspects of choosing a career as a wine sommelier is that it doesn’t require proper schooling or certification. With passion and self-taught knowledge on what makes a wine enjoyable and suitable for a particular occasion, you can begin your career.

The job of being a sommelier heavily depends on a knowledge of wine, but more importantly, is an ability to be a hospitable server.

Although passion will get your foot in the door as an introductory sommelier, certification can give you more credibility and grant you more opportunities. There are a variety of courses you can take to become a certified sommelier.

Sommelier Certifications

Here are six different associations and companies that offer courses and exams that can get you started or let you move up in the sommelier levels:

#1 Court of Master Sommeliers

Courses and Certification Levels Offered: Introductory Sommelier Course, Deductive Tasting Method workshop, Certified Sommelier exam, Advanced Sommelier course and exam, Master Sommelier diploma exam.

Length: It takes approximately three years to complete all introductory courses and certifications, and it's recommended that you simultaneously get industry service under your belt. Five years of mandatory industry service is required before you can take the master sommelier exam.

Location(s) of Availability: US and Europe (exams are offered internationally)

#2 Society of Wine Educators

Courses and Certification Levels Offered: Hospitality/Beverage Specialist certificate, CSW, CWE, CSS, CSE.

Length: Varies based on the certification you decide to pursue.

Location(s) of Availability: US

#3 The Sommelier Society of America

Courses and Certification Levels Offered: Sommelier Society of America certificate course, advanced tasting workshops, SSA deductive tasting guide.

Length: The certification course runs for 21 weeks.

Location(s) of Availability: New York City, US

#4 International Sommelier Guild

Courses and Certification Levels Offered: Teacher Education Program, Fundamentals of Wine, Intermediate Wine Certificate, Advanced Wine Certificate, ISGM

Length: Varies based on the certification you decide to pursue. Three hundred clock hours in total are required for the ISGM course.

Location(s) of Availability: US, China, and Canada

#5 Wine & Spirit Education Trust

Courses and Certification Levels Offered: 10+ awards and diplomas in wine, spirits, and sake.

Length: Varies based on the certification you decide to pursue.

Location(s) of Availability: 700 third-party teaching and examination centers can be found in over 70 countries.

#6 American Sommelier Association

Courses and Certification Levels Offered: Foundation, Viticulture and Vinification, Blind Tasting, Viti3 (region-focused classes), and Sales, Service, and Buying.

Length: Varies based on the certification you decide to pursue

Location(s) of Availability: New York City, US

Where Can You Work as a Sommelier?

Having vast knowledge of wine and experience in the industry can unlock many different opportunities for you. Here’s a collection of different careers you can pursue with or without a sommelier certification:


Hotels are recognized as a place where individuals, couples, and business personnel relax. Relaxation, hotels, and wine are the ultimate go-to combination. Seek out a position in a hotel that has a restaurant or minimalistic room service that includes wine on the menu.

You may be an advisor to the hotel and propose wines they should offer their guests or serve the various wines they already have on their menu.

Owning a Wine Shop

If you’re an entrepreneur and love surrounding yourself with wine as a whole, your ultimate aspiration can be to open a wine store. Owning your own shop can let you partake in your passion every day.

Enjoy trying new wines, sharing knowledge with others, and crafting a community of those who love wine just as much as you.

Wine Tours

Many vineyards worldwide use tours and wine tastings as an additional source of income. Vineyards will hire sommeliers to serve and educate their guests on the land, grapes, and vinification of the wine they produce.


If you have a strong wine vocabulary and love to share information, writing about wine could be a great career move. You can start a blog where you discuss new wine trends, innovative sommelier techniques, and reviews on different wines.

You might also want to consider approaching a particular brand or webpage and offering your services in writing wine descriptions. Having a writing portfolio can help you build credibility and a community of other wine enthusiasts.


The restaurant industry is the traditional path to take as a sommelier. You’ll gain experience with wine tastings, serving, and overall hospitality in a restaurant. Restaurants will let you flex your knowledge of the perfect pairings for any occasion.

The greater certification you have, the more restaurants you’ll be a candidate for. The classier the restaurant, the more experience they’ll be expecting from you. Work your way up through the ranks as you gain more experience with different customers and wine variations.

Work as a Sommelier

A job as a sommelier is an excellent career to have. The position and career path can let you indulge in your hobby and passion as a wine connoisseur.

If you take pride in your knowledge and hospitality skills, you can have great success while doing something you adore. Continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things; you may learn something you didn’t even know you wanted to learn.

To get a head start on cultivating your wine knowledge there’s a vast array of pertinent information just waiting to be checked out on Wine Insider’s Wine 101.