Interested in becoming a bartender? Before taking a leap of faith and switching up your career path, make sure that you are fully aware of the responsibilities and jobs of a bartender. Bartenders are employees of bars and restaurants who mix, pour, and serve drinks either directly to their customers or through waiters and waitresses. Bartenders must be quick on their feet and fast thinking as well. Popular bars or evenings often mean a need to be moving and working constantly with any sort of break to relax or gather their thoughts. They need to be able to mix and create a wide range of drinks while being quick, accurate, and without creating any waste. In most bars and restaurants, bartenders are responsible for checking the IDs of patrons to be sure they are of legal drinking age. It is crucial that those that serve alcohol are aware of their patrons age so that the restaurant of bar doesn’t accidentally break any local, state, or federal laws. Bartenders also often have a level of managerial responsibility. Bartenders must keep the bar area clean, collect payment and work cash registers, maintain bar supplies and upkeep of important machines, and greet customers and alert them to any specials for the day or evening.
Is bartending a good option for you? In order to be a good bartender, one needs to be quick on their feet and able to work constantly. During busy shifts, bartenders often work constantly pouring and mixing drinks, helping customers pay for their food and beverages, cleaning up the bar area, and more. If you have trouble staying on your feet for long stretches of time then bartending is probably not the best occupation for you. Bartenders also need to keep their cool and keep their stress to a minimum. During crazy shifts like those on the prime nights on Friday and Saturday, work can become extremely stressful. If the need to constantly move and work without stop weren’t already enough to stress you out, you also have to be able to calmly deal with customers. Many problems can arise with customers from the usual complaints of orders taking too long or orders not being correct to the extreme of a bar fight. Bartenders need to be able to handle and diffuse all possible situations that can arise while working a shift.
If you still think you would like to be a bartender, the next step is to decide how it is best to attain the education needed to become one. Many people are under the impression that it is a legal necessity in the United States to attend and pass a bartending school program. This is not true. Currently, there are no states which require bartenders to attend an official bartending school. This doesn’t mean that bartending school doesn’t offer some great pros. It can be incredibly beneficial for many wannabe bartenders. Bartending schools are privately run and are generally geared toward people who would like to get a leg up on getting into the industry. The programs usually run a couple of weeks and cost around five hundred dollars. In school students learn bartending basics like what certain tools are and how to use them, important drink recipes, well arrangement, and more. A big benefit of some of these programs is that they sometimes offer job placement programs for their graduates.
The most common path to becoming a bartender is by working your way up through the restaurant business. Most bartenders in practice today began in other areas of the restaurant business. Frequently, people start out working in the kitchen or as a waiter or waitress. From there, they are promoted to bartender after expressing interest and showing good work ethic. Another common way people become bartenders is by first searching for a job as a bar-back. Bar-backs are essentially assistants to the bartender on shift and are to do everything and anything to help the bartender and make their life easier. Bar-backs are responsible for getting ice, restocking, replacing the keg, preparing simple syrup, prepping drink garnishes, running food, cleaning, and more. By being a bar-back, you can gain incredibly useful insight into the profession. You learn how to service the important machines like the dishwasher, keg pressure system, and sound equipment. You also learn how to deal with the stress of working as a bartender and, of course, how to prepare the various drinks and cocktails.
Which way is better? There really isn’t one route that is whole-heartedly better than the other. Many already working in the industry would say that working you way up through a restaurant is the better way to go but it is all relative to each person. It all depends on how you feel you best learn and how you want to go about gaining you bartending education. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of both options. Often how you gained your bartending education doesn’t matter to bars and restaurants but there are a few exceptions. Certain casinos, hotels, and big national chain restaurants prefer their bartending staff to have a bartending diploma.
While you do not need to attend bartending school to become a bartender, you do often need to gain a license or certification to serve article. Alcohol licensing varies by state, county, and city so be sure to research the requirements for you area well. Typically, it is required for bartenders to become certified within either thirty, sixty, or ninety days following employment. The certification costs between twenty-five and fifty dollars and typically takes between one and six hours. Certification courses are taught by an experienced bartender and they teach local serving laws, pricing, and other vital things like how to spot a fake ID and how to deal with someone who is drunk.
You may be wondering what kind of salary you can expect as a bartender. Like most restaurant occupations, bartending is not a get rich quick scheme. Yes, there are bartenders who make up to six figures per year simply by bartending. This is far from the norm, however. The national average earnings for bartenders is $22,000 a year. In some areas of the country, such as the West Coast, North East, and Hawaii, can expect to make closer to $30,000 a year. Those estimated average earnings are before tips. In order to be a good bartender, you have learn the tactics necessary to rake in the tips. With tips, it is estimated that most bartenders actually earn between $45,000 and $75,000 a year. How much bartenders make in tips is highly dependent on the clientele that establishment tends to attract and how well the bartender is at making conversation and getting to know regulars.