What does a Bartender do?

Median Pay $21,690
Growth Rate 2%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A bartender works to prepare specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to customers. They may serve customers directly or provide the waitstaff the drinks to bring to clients. The job is harder than it may look as there are many types of recipes to memorize and a variety of different alcohols and garnishes to learn about.

Watch a Video:

How to Become a Bartender

To become a bartender, you must be at least 18 years old in order to serve alcoholic beverages. Formal education is often not required as most may learn on-the-job. There are also many books and recipe sheets on bartending to help people learn the basics. There are also bartending schools you can attend. Along with learning the recipes needed to make drinks and how to stock a bar appropriately, you would also learn about state laws as well. These programs may help place their students into jobs as well.

To get their foot in the door at a restaurant, some bartenders may start as a waitress or waiter and then start working as a bartender’s helper to learn the craft. At nice establishments, experience may be necessary to gain employment or you may need to show you took bartending classes.

Job Description of a Bartender

become a bartender

Bartenders may work directly with customers, waitstaff, or both providing alcoholic or non-alcoholic specialty drinks to patrons. If working with customers, they serve their drinks and also collect payment for those drinks. They must also know and abide by state laws and verify a customer’s age when they request to purchase alcohol.

Along with serving clients or providing drinks to waitstaff to bring to customers, they must also keep their area clean. This means bartenders may also clean table tops, the bar area, and behind the counter where they work. At the end of their shift, they may also be requested to inventory their stock and replace or fill any low or empty ingredients. If a bartender works directly with customers, it’s important that they have good people skills as a good bartender can help drive revenue for an establishment. They may also need to politely request a patron to stop drinking or discontinue serving a patron if they become intoxicated or unruly.

Free Resources

The Mixology Podcast (link opens in a new tab) is a free podcast provided by abarabove.com that you may find interesting when researching a career in bartending.

Bartender Career Video Transcript

While many an amateur mixologist knows how to make an appealing drink, it requires a lot more knowledge and skill to become a professional bartender. Bartenders must know how to prepare a wide range of drink recipes and the appropriate equipment to make them and mix drinks quickly without waste. They serve drinks directly to customers, and work with wait staff and kitchen crews, often in busy conditions, to ensure that customers receive prompt, accurate service.

Bartenders prepare garnishes for drinks, keep the bar stocked with supplies, and serve food to customers who sit at the bar. In addition to ensuring that customers are of legal drinking age, they converse with customers, and when necessary, they manage patrons’ unruly behavior. Bartenders also process payments from customers. Most bartenders work at restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels.

Full and part-time schedules are both common, as is working late evenings, weekends, and holidays. Most bartenders learn their skills on-the-job, often starting as bartender helpers or wait staff. No formal education is required, although upscale establishments may prefer candidates with bartending experience or classes. Most states require workers who serve alcoholic beverages to be at least 18 years old.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bartenders.

National Center for O*NET Development. 35-3011.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.