Bartending Career Path

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Bartending Career Path

If you’re looking for a career that’s always in demand, consider bartending. Bartenders are essential to the hospitality industry and can work in hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs. But what is it like to be a bartender? And what skills do you need to become one? This post will explore these questions and provide an overview of the bartending career path.

1. What Is Bartending?

Bartending involves serving drinks to customers in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other drinking establishments. Some bartenders serve cocktails, and others offer beer or wine. Either way, they share two critical tasks: mixing ingredients and serving the finished product to patrons of the establishment. Bartenders will sometimes oversee food service operations, depending on the size of the place and what is offered.

Bartending can be an exciting way to meet new people, enjoy fast-paced work, and earn good money. Some bartenders often develop personal relationships with regulars or familiar faces who come through their doors night after night. This leads to becoming unofficial brand ambassadors for some bartenders, while others enjoy the atmosphere.

The bartender profession used to be dominated by men, but that’s changing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are now entering this field in growing numbers. The BLS states that over half of all bartenders are women these days. Women have long been part of this industry because they tend to be cocktail aficionados.

2. What’s the Job Like?

Depending on where you work, duties will vary. But in general, bartenders spend a good part of their day standing and walking around while carrying heavy trays or cases of liquor. They also bend down frequently to access glassware and other supplies stored under the bar or in lower cabinets. Bartending is hectic work that requires a quick pace, so bartenders must have great agility and move throughout the bar with ease.

Some jobs require bartenders to participate in “side work,” such as washing glassware, filling ice bins, and cleaning up spilled drinks or vomit from intoxicated patrons. Bartenders might also need to order and restock supplies like food, liquor, or mixers. They might also need to fill out paperwork related to inventory, sales, and other business matters. Alcohol sales typically stop by 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., so bartenders must be on their feet all night to handle customer service, payments, and interactions with employees from other departments such as food service and security.

3. What Kind of Qualifications Do You Need?

There’s no official education requirement for becoming a bartender, but employers typically prefer applicants with a high school diploma or GED. Employers typically seek applicants with interpersonal skills, good communication skills, and the ability to work well under pressure. Many employers also look for friendly and outgoing people since bartenders must interact with customers all night.

Bartenders don’t need any prior experience in this industry, but they should understand bar fundamentals. This includes knowledge about different liquors, wines, and beers, the proper way to prepare mixed drinks, handling common problems in a bar environment (like intoxicated or difficult people), and what steps are necessary for serving alcoholic beverages.

4. What Skills Do You Need?

For most employers, strong communication skills are an absolute necessity. Bartenders shouldn’t be shy about talking to customers and interacting with bar patrons. Aside from socializing, bartenders must also show excellent customer service by maintaining a positive attitude, remembering regular orders, and keeping up-to-date on drink specials or other promotions that might attract business.

Bartenders also need good judgment and decision-making skills. They handle a lot of money, make recommendations for drinks to patrons, and should be able to figure out when someone has had too much to drink or is simply trying to get a free drink by pretending they’ve already been served.

While bartending doesn’t require advanced math knowledge, bartenders must also keep track of and make calculations related to money, especially when it comes time to ring up tabs or give back change.

5. How Much Can You Earn?

Given the physical nature of this job, bartenders don’t need college degrees (although many employers prefer at least a high school diploma), and entry-level salaries tend to be around $30,000 to $40,000 a year. This is usually the case for bartenders who work in certain bars or restaurants that don’t require extensive experience or skills.

Bartenders with more training and experience can earn upwards of $90,000 per year, while others might earn far less on average due to working in less-popular establishments.

6. How Do You Advance Your Career?

Bartenders can advance to higher-paying positions in several ways, but the most common path is gaining more experience and establishing initial credibility with employers. This might entail taking on more responsibility, learning about different liquors and wines, or training to prepare mixed drinks.

Other possible career advancement opportunities include:

  • Becoming a bartender instructor.
  • Opening your bar or nightclub.
  • Working as a consultant for hiring companies.

7. What Does the Future Hold?

Bartenders should expect to see stable job growth in their field due to rising customer demand for alcoholic drinks and overall spending on entertainment. In addition, many consumers are trading up to more expensive cocktails and drinks, such as premium wines and specialty craft beers. This is an up-and-coming trend for bartenders looking to move up in the industry.

Of course, employment growth also depends on future economic conditions, so those who work as bartenders should expect to face increased competition from job-seekers with higher education or other relevant experience.

Bartending is an excellent choice for people who need flexibility in their career, but it’s still a demanding job with long hours and little time off. Bartenders should be comfortable standing on their feet all night while working in a fast-paced environment.

8. What Jobs Can You Get After Bartending?

Cocktail Waitress- Bartenders can also work as full-time waiters or waitresses. They would generally become servers for an entire restaurant, which means they’re responsible for waiting on more than one table of guests at a time.

Bartender- A bartender is just a type of server that serves drinks and the food that the guests order. A bartender usually works in a restaurant or bar where they’re responsible for mixing drinks, serving food, making recommendations to patrons, and providing entertainment while customers are dining.

Bartender Supervisor- If you have gained enough bartender experience, you can move up the career ladder to become a supervisor or manager of other staff members under your supervision.

Franchise owner- Often, a person who has earned enough bartending can use that cash to buy their own business or franchisee for other bars and restaurants.

Full-Service Restaurant Manager- A full-service restaurant manager is responsible for hiring, training, scheduling, and directing various staff members in the establishment. They are also in charge of achieving or exceeding a restaurant’s sales and profit goals.

Nightclub Promoter- A person who works as a promoter is also sometimes known as a “party planner.” This job involves setting up social gatherings to promote an event, artist, brand, or organization. They might work for large corporations or smaller businesses, depending on their expertise.

9. How Do You Put Bartending on a Resume?

Do not include your bartending experience in your resume’s Objective Statement. Your previous job experience should always be started first, with the most recent or relevant position listed first.

Objective Statement- Career break into the hospitality industry after obtaining 6+ years of professional work experience and seeking a full-time paid position with upward mobility within an established company.

Since a resume is a professional document, you should never write about the amount of money you made while bartending. It’s also best to avoid mentioning your monthly bar tab or spending habits since this can be considered bragging during an interview.

Instead, use relevant descriptions from your previous job description to describe any accomplishments you achieved while bartending. Also, list any relevant skills you acquired when working behind the bar, such as communication, customer service, and teamwork.

Professional Experience- Bartender at Twist Nightclub in NYC (2014-Current) Responsible for promoting an upscale environment while providing excellent customer service to nightclub guests. The dominant role in creating a positive atmosphere by leading staff members in daily tasks—assisted management with hiring, training, scheduling, and coaching dedicated employees.

Career Skills- Excellent communication skills to interact effectively with customers while maintaining a positive attitude. Proficient in operating an array of bar equipment, including blender machines, beer taps, refrigerators, cash registers, and cocktail shakers.

10. What Is the Work Environment for a Bartender?

Bartenders typically work in clean and well-lit bars, lounges, casinos, hotels, restaurants, event venues, concert halls, etc., while they’re serving food and drinks to guests of the establishment. They might also spend some time cleaning or doing other light work, such as loading ice into beverage machines.

Bartenders’ working hours can vary from being open late night hours or early morning during the weekends. Bartenders need to be present, especially when they’re scheduled to work since this is their primary source of income.

11. What Is a Typical Day Look Like for a Bartender?

The workweek of a bartender typically starts on either Mondays or Tuesdays since they must restock the bar’s supplies with fresh ingredients and accessories. Bartenders might also spend some time preparing for their shift by setting up bartending equipment like liquor bottles, shakers, ice buckets, etc.

When guests begin to arrive during opening hours, bartenders must greet and seat them while answering any questions that they might have. When customers arrive at the bar, bartenders listen to their drink orders and prepare high-quality cocktails with accuracy and attention to detail.

After closing hours, bartenders are usually expected to ensure that all work areas are clean and tidy before leaving for the night. In some establishments, bartenders are responsible for resetting their equipment and restocking their supplies.

12. How to Apply for Bartending?

Once you have a resume with relevant work experience, you can begin searching online for job postings in your area. Most bartenders receive their first bartending jobs by connecting with a hiring manager or owner through references from friends and previous employers.

If you don’t have any professional work experience yet, look for local businesses near you that are always hiring. Some examples include restaurants, bars, cafes, pubs, etc., since they typically hire new employees for their busy shifts.

When applying for a job as a bartender, you must bring your resume and headshot to the interview while being professional and friendly. To ace, your job interview, review the most common bartending questions with suggested answers.


The bartending career path can be a great way to get started in the hospitality industry. It can be a fun and rewarding job, and there are many opportunities for advancement. Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been bartending for years, we hope this article has given you some helpful information about the profession. Do you have any questions about bartending that weren’t answered in this post? Let us know in the comments section below!

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