How to Become a

Bar Back

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

Why We Love It

  • $21,400
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Flexible Hours
    Career Attribute

A bar back is another name for a bartender’s assistant. Their chief responsibility is to support the bartender in functioning smoothly and efficiently. The bar back essentially works long hours and does everything other taking drink orders from the customers. Whether it is peeling orange rinds or washing the bartender’s mixing glasses, bar backs have to be ready to take on a steep learning curve.

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What is a Bar Back?

As bar back, you are responsible for a range of duties, including the following:

  • Keep the bar well-stocked and make sure there is enough back-up liquor.
  • Ensure that the bar is clean and all the glassware, silverware and dishware is restocked.
  • Correctly follow and implement the health and safety procedures laid out by management, city, state and federal requirements.
  • Clearly communicate with a wide range of people such as managers, guests, servers, bartenders and other house management during shifts.
  • Reset tables at the bar to the management’s specifications and have good knowledge of table numbers and layouts.

Day in the life

A bar back works mostly indoors and follows a set schedule based on the type of bar and management rules. To enjoy this work, a bar back should be comfortable in fast-paced environments that could be subject to varying levels of noise, crowds and smoke. Physical strength is also a bonus as work might require you to lift up to 40 pounds in order to open and close bar, obtain all supplies necessary for mixing cocktails, and clean and maintain areas for which responsible.

Before the bar opens from 3-5 pm, the bar back would be responsible for making sure that the bar is set up well, all liquor bottles are restocked, syrups are bottled and lemons or limes are juiced. From 1.30 am onwards, the bar back would be expected to start cleaning up – break down the bar, take care of some remaining dishes and wipe down every surface. His role may involve having friendly interactions with guests and other staff, monitor guest consumption of alcohol and entering any comp transactions into the system for departmental charges as necessary.

Work schedule and typical hours

Bar backs can expect flexible work schedules based on the type of employer and working hours at the establishment. Since most of a bar back’s duties revolve around anticipating the needs of the bartender, one has to be prepared for odd hours like late evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Growth of the job

As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of bartenders is expected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, more than the average for all occupations. In 2014, around 580,900 individuals worked as a bartender, some of whom might have started out as a bar back.

An increase in population and income will lead to greater demand for bars, taverns, clubs and restaurants. In addition, the job opportunities are very optimistic, since there is a high turnover rate in terms of bar backs.

A bar back’s earnings could vary greatly, depending on the type of establishment. For example, in more upscale and busy restaurants, bars, and casinos, bar backs will make more in tips than in wages. Bar backs typically enjoy a fixed minimum hourly wage and a 5 to 20 percent cut of the bartender’s tips, according to a veteran bar service professional Reese Richards.

Typical employers

As a bar back, you will usually work at restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and other food service and drinking establishments. Although they usually work indoors, some also work outdoors at pool or beach bars.

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How To Become a Bar Back

Bar backs do not need any formal education. Instead, they learn by doing and applying their skills on the job over varying periods of time, lasting a few weeks to some months. Bar backs are often promoted to bartender after they attain a certain level of expertise or can showcase their previous work experience. In most US states, bar backs should be at least 18 years of age and well-acquainted with state and local laws regarding the sale alcoholic beverages.

Some aspiring bar backs can improve their skills by attending a school for bartending and familiarising themselves with regulations concerning the sale of alcohol, proper conduct and stocking a bar right. Bar backs have a greater chance of being promoted to a bartender or even a dining room supervisor, if they display superior communication and customer service skills, as well as physical stamina.

Bar Back 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




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Bar Back salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Bar Back's can make an average annual salary of $21,400, or $10 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $18,140 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #805 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Bar Backs

  • 0.3%   Doctorate
  • 0.4%   Masters
  • 6.4%   Bachelors
  • 4.2%   Associates
  • 17.5%   College
  • 42.4%   High School
  • 28.8%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Bar Back job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 25,400 jobs for a total of 440,700 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #365 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Bar Backs

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Full-service restaurants 237,100 11,700 12%
Special food services 23,700 600 1%
Elementary and secondary schools; local 10,900 600 1%

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