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Bartender Careers

If you're a good listener, you might make an excellent bartender. Unfortunately, that's not a qualifying factor. As long as you're 18, though, you should be good to go. Generally, bartender serve their drinks at restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels. But if you don't like working late evenings, weekends and holidays, then this may not be the job for you.

What Does a Bartender Do

Bartenders mix drinks and serve them directly to customers or through wait staff.

Duties

Bartenders typically do the following:

  • Greet customers, give them menus, and inform them about daily specials
  • Take drink orders from customers
  • Pour and serve wine, beer, and other drinks and beverages
  • Mix drinks according to recipes
  • Check identification of customers to ensure that they are of legal drinking age
  • Clean bars, tables, and work areas
  • Collect payments from customers and return change
  • Manage bar operation and order and maintain liquor and bar supplies

Bartenders fill drink orders either directly from customers at the bar or through waiters and waitresses who place drink orders for dining room customers. Bartenders must know a wide range of drink recipes and be able to mix drinks correctly and quickly. When measuring and pouring beverages they must avoid spillage or over pouring. They also must work well with waiters and waitresses and other kitchen staff to ensure that customers receive prompt service.

Some establishments, especially busy establishments with many customers, use equipment that automatically measures and pours drinks at the push of a button. Bartenders who use this equipment, however, still must become familiar with the ingredients for special drink requests and be able to work quickly to handle numerous drink orders.

Bartenders in some establishments also use carbonated beverage dispensers, cocktail shakers, commercial strainers, trigger sprayers, and ice shaver machines.

In addition to mixing and serving drinks, bartenders stock and prepare garnishes for drinks and maintain an adequate supply of ice, glasses, and other bar supplies. They also wash glassware and utensils and serve food to customers who eat at the bar. Bartenders are usually responsible for ordering and maintaining an inventory of liquor, mixers, and other bar supplies.

Some bartenders run their own bar or catering business. In addition to their standard bartending duties, these owners also are responsible for hiring, training, and supervising their staff; budgeting for and ordering supplies; and setting prices.

How To Become a Bartender

Most bartenders learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training usually lasting a few weeks. No formal education is required.

Many bartenders are promoted from other jobs at the establishments in which they work. Bartenders at upscale establishments usually have attended bartending classes or have previous work experience.

Although most states require workers who serve alcoholic beverages to be at least 18 years old, most bartenders are 25 or older. Bartenders must be familiar with state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Education

No formal education is required to become a bartender. However, some aspiring bartenders acquire their skills by attending a school for bartending or by attending bartending classes at a vocational or technical school. These programs often include instruction on state and local laws and regulations concerning the sale of alcohol, cocktail recipes, proper attire and conduct, and stocking a bar. The length of each program varies, but most courses last a few weeks. Some schools help their graduates find jobs.

Training

Most bartenders receive on-the-job training, usually lasting a few weeks, under the guidance of an experienced bartender. Training focuses on cocktail recipes, bar-setup procedures, and customer service, including how to handle unruly customers and other challenging situations. In food service establishments where bartenders serve food, the training may cover teamwork and proper food-handling procedures.

Some employers teach bartending skills to new workers by providing self-study programs, online programs, videos, and instructional booklets that explain service skills. Such programs communicate the philosophy of the establishment, help new bartenders build rapport with other staff, and instill a desire to work as a team.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some bartenders qualify through related work experience. They may start as bartender helpers and progress into full-fledged bartenders as they learn basic mixing procedures and recipes. Some bartenders also may start as waiters and waitresses.

Advancement

Advancement for bartenders is usually limited to finding a job in a busier or more upscale restaurant or bar where prospects for earning tips are better. Some bartenders advance to supervisory jobs, such as dining room supervisor, maitre d', assistant manager, and restaurant general manager. A few bartenders open their own bars.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Bartenders must listen carefully to their customers’ orders, explain drink and food items, and make menu recommendations. They also should be able to converse with customers on a variety of subjects and create a friendly and welcoming environment.

Customer-service skills. Bartenders must have good customer-service skills to ensure repeat business.

Decisionmaking skills. Bartenders must be able to make good decisions. For example, they should be able to detect intoxicated and underage customers and deny service to those individuals.

Interpersonal skills. Bartenders should be friendly, tactful, and attentive when dealing with customers. For example, they should be able to tell a joke and laugh with a customer to build rapport.

Physical stamina. Bartenders spend hours on their feet preparing drinks and serving customers.

Physical strength. Bartenders should be able to lift and carry heavy cases of liquor, beer, and other bar supplies, which often weigh up to 50 pounds.

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Average Salary
$22,414
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
8,773
Job Openings

Bartender Career Paths

Top Careers Before Bartender

Server
19.8 %
Cashier
9.6 %

Top Careers After Bartender

Server
20.2 %
Cashier
6.6 %

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Bartender

Bartenders in America make an average salary of $22,414 per year or $11 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $29,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $16,000 per year.
Average Salary
$22,414

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Los Angeles, CA
Salary Range24k - 33k$28k$28,362
Jersey City, NJ
Salary Range22k - 32k$27k$27,387
Bangor, ME
Salary Range20k - 28k$24k$23,841
Plymouth, MA
Salary Range19k - 27k$23k$23,261
San Antonio, TX
Salary Range18k - 27k$23k$22,875
Santa Fe, NM
Salary Range18k - 27k$23k$22,754
$14k
$33k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Bartenders Needed-Great PAY, Great Tips
Bartenders Needed-Great PAY, Great Tips
South Atlantic League
South Atlantic League
01/29/2021
01/29/2021
$15,13101/29/2021
$15,131
Bartenders Needed-Great PAY, Great Tips
Bartenders Needed-Great PAY, Great Tips
Minor League Baseball
Minor League Baseball
01/29/2021
01/29/2021
$15,13101/29/2021
$15,131
Sodexo
DEN Airline Club Bartender-United Club
DEN Airline Club Bartender-United Club
Sodexo
Sodexo
01/29/2021
01/29/2021
$29,53101/29/2021
$29,531
Bartender
Bartender
Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis Arnold
Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis Arnold
01/28/2021
01/28/2021
$22,95701/28/2021
$22,957
*Bartender-and-Holiday INN @ The Pavilion
*Bartender-and-Holiday INN @ The Pavilion
Beach Holidays, LLC
Beach Holidays, LLC
01/28/2021
01/28/2021
$16,69601/28/2021
$16,696
See More Recent Salaries

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Bartender Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Bartender. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Bartender Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Bartender resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Bartender Demographics

Gender

female

58.7 %

male

38.2 %

unknown

3.1 %

Ethnicity

White

69.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

16.2 %

Black or African American

6.0 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.9 %

French

9.8 %

German

4.4 %
See More Demographics

Bartender Education

Majors

Business
21.1 %

Degrees

Bachelors

38.4 %

High School Diploma

26.9 %

Associate

18.7 %
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Bartender

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 20.9% of bartenders listed beverage orders on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and customer-service skills are important as well.

  • Beverage Orders, 20.9%
  • Company Standards, 9.1%
  • Menu Items, 8.2%
  • Guest Service, 6.0%
  • POS, 5.9%
  • Other Skills, 49.9%
  • See All Bartender Skills

Best States For a Bartender

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a bartender. The best states for people in this position are New York, California, Nevada, and New Jersey. Bartenders make the most in New York with an average salary of $29,142. Whereas in California and Nevada, they would average $28,973 and $27,738, respectively. While bartenders would only make an average of $27,293 in New Jersey, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Nevada

Total Bartender Jobs:
155
Highest 10% Earn:
$38,000
Location Quotient:
2.1
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Bartender Jobs:
280
Highest 10% Earn:
$38,000
Location Quotient:
1
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. California

Total Bartender Jobs:
919
Highest 10% Earn:
$39,000
Location Quotient:
0.89
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Bartender Employers

1. Buffalo Wild Wings
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$18,307
Bartenders Hired: 
1,231+
2. American Legion
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$18,876
Bartenders Hired: 
1,043+
3. TGI Friday's
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$18,297
Bartenders Hired: 
957+
4. Darden Restaurants
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$17,716
Bartenders Hired: 
720+
5. Red Lobster
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$17,692
Bartenders Hired: 
640+
6. Ruby Tuesday
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$18,066
Bartenders Hired: 
539+

Bartender Videos