How to Become a Bartender

Bars, restaurants, and other establishments that serve a variety of beverages rely on specially trained workers to fulfill drink orders and demonstrate excellent customer service. This is the job of bartenders.

What does a bartender do?

Bartenders prepare and serve a variety of beverage orders from soft drinks to alcoholic beverages. They fill the orders either from customers directly at the bar or for serving staff for customers in dining areas. They make sure customers meet the minimum age requirements. Bartenders prepare garnishes for drinks, keep the bar area clean, and stock ice, glasses, and other bar supplies. They often operate cash registers and collect a variety of forms of payment from customers. Some bartenders place food orders for customers dining at the bar. Bartenders are responsible for taking inventory and ordering the needed amount of supplies. They must also make sure the establishment is safe by stopping serving a patron that shows signs of impaired judgment.

What kind of training does a bartender need?

Bartenders typically need at least a high school diploma, but many employers prefer applicants with sufficient experience or completion of bartending school. Bartending classes usually involve 10 hours a week for a month. Prospective bartenders learn how to make a variety of drinks and handle many different types of customers. They also learn the proper storing procedures and how to handle and care for glassware. Most employers provide on the job training where new bartenders shadow experienced bartenders until they gain the necessary skills and experience to manage the bar independently. Bartenders are typically required to complete regular alcohol awareness and safety training.

What are the prospects for a career as a bartender?

Employment of bartenders is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 8% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increase in construction of new bars will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be excellent especially for bartenders with extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace bartenders that leave the occupation.

How much do bartenders make?

As of February 2010, bartenders with less than 1 year experience earn average hourly rates between $7.11 and $10.13. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $6.31 and $8.79 (2).

A career as a bartender is a great choice for people with a strong interest in preparing many different types of beverages for a variety of customers. Bartenders must have a solid understanding of a variety of drink recipes and the ability to make drinks in a quick and accurate manner. They must also be familiar with the local and state laws regarding alcoholic beverages. Bartenders must have excellent communication and customer service skills and the ability to work with a variety of other workers. They must also be self-confident and patient to be able to interact with customers that have drank a large amount of alcohol.

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