8 Steps to Become a Bartender

Bartenders mix and serve alcoholic beverages and other drinks to bar and restaurant patrons. Bartenders must know about different varieties and brands of beer, wine, and spirits and how to serve each. They must also learn and master cocktail-making techniques like shaking, stirring, pouring, and muddling.
An important part of being a bartender is providing good customer service. Bartenders take orders, collect payment and make change, recommend drinks, and make conversation with their customers. They also maintain a clean working area and may be responsible for keeping their bar well-stocked.
1. What kind of training is required to become a bartender?
Most bartenders don’t complete formal training for their jobs. Bartenders may teach themselves or learn on the job by working as a bartender helper or assistant.
Some bartenders go to bartending schools to receive their initial training. Bartending schools exist across the United States, and experts recommend choosing one that is licensed by your state’s department of education and offers programs that take at least 40 hours to complete.
Students in bartending courses learn how to use bar equipment, mix a wide variety of cocktails, pour different types of beverages, and provide good customer service. They may also learn about health and safety issues, working with cash registers, and interviewing for bartender positions.
2. Are there any certification or licensure requirements?
Very few states require bartenders to meet any licensing or certification requirements. Washington state, for example, requires bartenders to complete an alcohol server training course and apply for a permit. Wisconsin has similar requirements. Check with your state’s liquor control board to see what, if anything, bartenders must do before they can start working.
3. How long does it take to become a bartender?
There is no one strict path to becoming a bartender, and you could begin working as a bartender as soon as you meet your state’s age requirements. Some states set the minimum age for bartenders at 18, while others require bartenders to be at least 21 years old.
4. What does a bartender earn?
Most bartenders rely heavily upon tips to supplement their hourly wage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012, bartenders in the United States earned a median of $9.09 per hour, including tips. The top ten percent of bartenders made more than $15 per hour that year.
5. What are the job prospects?
The BLS expects that employment of bartenders in the United States will grow by 12 percent between 2012 and 2020, about as fast as the average growth for all occupations. While employment will grow, competition for bartending jobs may be strong. Bartenders can enhance their job prospects by gaining experience and training.
6. What are the long term career prospects for bartenders?
Bartenders who gain working experience will be more likely to land lucrative jobs with busy, successful bars and restaurants. Some bartenders may advance into restaurant management or even open their own bars.
7. How can I find a job as a bartender?
Search for job openings in your area and apply and interview in a professional manner. Search for openings that might be a good fit for your interests; if you are interested in sports, for example, then a sports bar may be a good place for you. Network with other bartenders to find out about job openings in your area.
8. How can I learn more about becoming a bartender?
If you want to learn more about bartending, you can learn a lot by talking to a bartender. Build a rapport with bartenders in various bars and restaurants to learn more about the profession and the job scene in your area.

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