What Does A Bartender Do? How To Become A Bartender

Bartending is an exciting and dynamic profession that offers opportunities to meet new people, create unique cocktails, and work in various settings. This guide will walk you through what a bartender does, how to become a bartender, and answer some frequently asked questions about the profession. 

What Does A Bartender Do?

Bartenders are responsible for preparing and serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to customers. Their duties include:

  • Mixing Drinks: Following recipes or creating custom cocktails.
  • Customer Service: Interacting with patrons, taking orders, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
  • Inventory Management: Keeping track of stock levels, ordering supplies, and restocking the bar.
  • Maintaining Cleanliness: Cleaning the bar area, washing glassware, and ensuring the workspace is tidy.
  • Handling Payments: Processing transactions, handling cash, and using point-of-sale systems.
What Does A Bartender Do?

How To Become A Bartender 

Get A Bartending License

Some regions require bartenders to have a license or permit, which usually involves completing a short course on responsible alcohol service and passing an exam.

Get Hired As A Barback

Starting as a barback is a common entry point into bartending. Barbacks support bartenders by restocking supplies, cleaning, and performing other essential tasks.

Start At A Restaurant Bar

Gaining experience in a restaurant bar can be a great way to learn the basics of bartending in a less high-pressure environment compared to busy nightclubs or cocktail bars.

How To Become A Bartender

Find A Bartending Mentor 

Learning from an experienced bartender can provide valuable insights and tips that you won’t get from formal training alone.

Learn How To Pour Drinks

Mastering the art of pouring drinks accurately and efficiently is a fundamental skill. Practice pouring standard shots and free-pouring techniques.

Practice Mixology

Experiment with different ingredients and techniques to develop your mixology skills. Understanding flavor profiles and how to balance them is key to creating great cocktails.

Be Patient And Available

Building a career in bartending takes time. Be prepared to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Show dedication and a willingness to learn.

Don’t Rely On Bartending School Alone

While bartending school can provide a good foundation, real-world experience is invaluable. Combine formal training with on-the-job learning for the best results.

What Skills Should A Bartender Have?

  • Customer Service: Friendly and attentive service is crucial for repeat business.
  • Communication: Clear and effective communication with customers and staff.
  • Multitasking: Handling multiple orders and tasks simultaneously.
  • Attention to Detail: Ensuring drinks are made correctly and orders are accurate.
  • Physical Stamina: Long hours on your feet and lifting heavy items.
What Skills Should A Bartender Have?

Frequently Asked Question

What Is The Average Salary For A Bartender?

In the US, a bartender makes, on average, $16.14 per hour; however, depending on location and experience, this amount can vary from $8.29 to $31.40 per hour. But since tips play a big part in bartender earnings, the starting pay is much less than what they make. An additional $150 in revenue is generated by tips on average each day.

Where Do Bartenders Usually Work?

Bartenders work in various settings, including bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs, and event venues. 

What Are the Typical Hours for a Bartender?

Bartenders typically work in shifts, much like the rest of the food service industry. The day shift works from around 9 AM to between 4 and 6 PM. 

Then, night bartenders take over and work until sometime between 10 PM and 2 AM. If you bartend at a club or similar establishment, you might work as late as 4 AM.

What Is The Long-Term Career Outlook For A Bartender?

The career outlook for bartenders is positive, with opportunities for advancement into roles such as head bartender, bar manager, or even opening your own bar. Bartending can also be a stepping stone to other hospitality careers.

Which Laws Guide The Bartender Profession?

Laws vary by location but generally include regulations on the legal drinking age, responsible alcohol service, and health and safety standards.

What Age Can You Be A Bartender?

While each state has its own legal minimum age to work as a bartender, the lowest age is 18. Younger bartenders are prohibited in some states. 

What Are Some Important Bartending Skills?

  • Mixology: Creating and mixing drinks.
  • Customer Interaction: Engaging with patrons.
  • Inventory Management: Keeping track of supplies.
  • Sanitation: Maintaining a clean and safe work environment.


Becoming a bartender involves a combination of training, experience, and skill development. By starting in entry-level positions, learning from mentors, and continually practicing your craft, you can build a successful and rewarding career in bartending. Whether you aspire to work in a high-end cocktail bar or a bustling nightclub, dedication and passion for the job are key to your success.

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