bartender
How to Become a

Bartender

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

Why We Love It

  • $24,110
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 10.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Bartenders prepare and serve both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Bartenders may be responsible for preparing a list of traditional drinks as ordered by customers, or they may serve as mixologists—individuals trained in inventing new drinks based on customer preferences and personal recipes.


What is a Bartender?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in bartending roles:

  • Collect drink orders and prepare alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Serve as mixologists, developing new drink recipes based on customer preferences or personal recipes
  • Stock bars: ensure all liquors, mixers, beers, wines, and garnishes needed for a shift are available
  • Converse with and entertain clientele to make customers feel welcomed and delighted
  • Clean up after shifts: wipe down bars, secure liquors, and wash glassware

A Day in the Life

A bartender’s shift usually begins with preparing a bar and facility for customers. They’re responsible for setting up their areas: ensuring needed liquors and bottles of beer and wine are stocked, cocktail garnishes are cut and available, mixers are restocked and nearby, and pour mats, glassware, and shakers are clean and available. They’re also responsible for setting up their registers and ensuring that opening banks are counted correctly.

During their shifts, bartenders take orders from customers and servers and prepare ordered drinks. In busy venues, bartending is an active and fast-paced job that requires quick movements, good memorization skills, and people skills that allow making a good impression with just a brief interaction. Bartenders accept payments for drink orders and are responsible for accepting payments, making change, and keeping open tabs for ordered drinks when customers pay with credit or debit cards.

After a shift, bartenders must reconcile their registers with the sales made that evening. In venues that require bartenders to share tips, they may also be responsible for counting and splitting tips earned for the evening, and they may have to tip out bar backs and other help staff for a percentage of tips earned that evening. Bartenders also often have cleaning responsibilities after shifts and need to wipe down bars, clean dishware and bar mats, and secure alcohol so that it’s locked up while the venue is closed.

Typical Work Schedule

Bartenders may be required to work day, afternoon, and evening shifts, depending on the type of venue they’re employed by. Shifts may or may not be consistent—bartenders may be required to close the bar one evening and then turn around and open it back up the next afternoon.

Projected Job Growth

Like all food service industry jobs, bartending positions experience high turnover, so there is almost always an open position available for bartenders. Additionally, it’s expected that the position will see higher than average growth in the coming decade.

Typical Employers

Bartenders are hired to work in a variety of venues. Some work in bars and nightclubs, some work in restaurants, and some work in casinos. Additionally, bartenders may work for catering companies where they travel to different venues to serve drinks at events.


How To Become a Bartender

While no formal education is required to become a bartender, many individuals get their foot in to door at popular establishments by studying bartending at vocational or technical schools. These schools teach individuals how to prepare drinks using a set of standard recipes and cocktails, and students also learn about alcohol sales laws and proper food service storage and preparation techniques. This education can take the place of on-the-job training and allow individuals to secure bartender jobs more quickly.

The alternative is to accept an entry-level position at a bar or restaurant and work your way up to being trained as a bartender. Some bartenders start as hosting, janitorial, or security staff and work their way through positions to qualify to be trained as bartenders. Individuals with success in entry-level positions may move on to become servers or bar backs and ultimately qualify for bartender training from an experienced staff bartender or bar manager.

Additionally, each state has its own laws regarding age requirements for bartenders. Some states require individuals to be 18, some require you to be 20, and some require you to be 21. It’s important to understand state laws for serving drinks to make sure you qualify to work as a bartender.


Bartender 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

$18,190

Average

$24,110

High Range

$37,980

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$9/hr

Average

$12/hr

High Range

$18/hr

How do Bartender salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Bartender's can make an average annual salary of $24,110, or $12 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $18,190 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #780 Nationally for All Careers


Highest Education Among Bartenders

  • 0.4%   Doctorate
  • 1.9%   Masters
  • 16.9%   Bachelors
  • 10%   Associates
  • 35.6%   College
  • 27.8%   High School
  • 7.5%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

580,900

2024 Est. Jobs

640,900

Job Growth Rate

10.3%

Est. New Jobs

60,000

How does Bartender job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 60,000 jobs for a total of 640,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #183 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Bartenders

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Full-service restaurants 253,200 39,100 39%
Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) 165,800 11,700 12%
Civic and social organizations 44,900 2,400 2%

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