barista
How to Become a

Barista

The complete career guide to be a Barista: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $20,590
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Baristas prepare and serve coffee drinks, pastries, and other common café foods. They are customer service representatives that interact with coffee shop patrons, educate customers on different drink types, and work to create a hospitable and relaxed atmosphere that promotes customer loyalty.


What is a Barista?

The following job responsibilities are common for baristas:

  • Welcome customers, take food and drink orders, and operate cash registers and credit card machines to complete sales transactions
  • Prepare a variety of coffee, expresso, cappuccino, latte, and tea drinks, and serve drinks and pastries to customers
  • Assist customers in decision making by offering descriptions of different drink types and making recommendations based on customer preferences

A Day in the Life

Baristas begin their days by preparing for customers. This may include brewing coffee, setting up equipment, ensuring service areas are stocked with supplies, and setting out pastries and other food items for purchase. Once the coffee shop opens for business, the barista serves patrons, preparing ordered drinks, taking orders and payments and providing change, and warming or toasting pastries as requested. They also clean and restock materials throughout the day as needed.

Baristas are responsible for maintaining a cash drawer, and at the end of the day may be responsible for resolving their register funds with the day’s sales. Additionally, cleaning responsibilities are often executed at the end of a shift—baristas may be responsible for cleaning store areas and equipment at the end of the day. Baristas may also have to restock items and dispose of or store unsold food items.

Baristas earn both a salary and tips, so it is in their best interests to provide exceptional customer service. For this reason, the best baristas are those that enjoy working with people and educating others on the basics of coffee. Patrons that feel welcomed and have enjoyable experiences are more likely to leave a tip for the barista at the end of the transaction.

Typical Work Schedule

Baristas may be required to work any shift—first, second, or third—and will likely work both weekdays and weekends. First shift is the most common as many coffee shops close in the afternoon, but some stores will have evening or late-night hours where beer and wine are served in addition to coffee.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Barista
  • Mid-Career: Store Manager, Regional Manager
  • Late Career: Franchise Operator, Small Business Owner

Typical Employers

Baristas can be employed by any coffee shop in their area, but common employers include the biggest coffee franchises like Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, the Coffee Beanery, and Peet’s Tea and Coffee.


How To Become a Barista

A decade ago, becoming a barista was a simple matter of asking for the job. However, as coffee has grown in popularity, demand for experienced, educated baristas has grown, and more employers now are looking for people with education and experience in the field. For this reason, earning a barista certification is a good way to learn important concepts, learn how to brew and make coffee drinks, and become more competitive when applying for local barista positions.

Without a barista certification, employers will look for individuals with previous experience working as a barista. Some individuals are able to secure jobs working in coffee shops operating cash registers or washing dishes and work their way up to a barista position where they can get on-the-job training. However, many coffee shops expect their baristas to fulfill all responsibilities—cleaning, running the cash register, and preparing drinks—so it may be difficult to find a place that separates these positions.

After working for several years as a barista, you may qualify for promotions to assistant manager, general manager, or even regional manager. Additionally, many career baristas go on to operate a franchise or open their own coffee shop later in life.


Barista Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$18,040

Average

$20,590

High Range

$26,780

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$9/hr

Average

$10/hr

High Range

$13/hr

How do Barista salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Barista's can make an average annual salary of $20,590, or $10 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $18,040 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #809 Nationally for All Careers


Highest Education Among Baristas

  • 0.3%   Doctorate
  • 1.2%   Masters
  • 8.8%   Bachelors
  • 5.6%   Associates
  • 20.6%   College
  • 43.7%   High School
  • 19.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

481,200

2024 Est. Jobs

510,000

Job Growth Rate

6%

Est. New Jobs

28,800

How does Barista job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 28,800 jobs for a total of 510,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #375 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Baristas

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Special food services 34,400 -900 -1%
Motion picture and video exhibition 32,100 -100 0%
Full-service restaurants 29,100 800 1%

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