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How Much Do Bartenders Make?

How Much Do Bartenders Make?

Lots of people get into bartending because they hear a lot about star bartenders making some serious bank—you may have even heard stories about bartenders pulling six-figure incomes. Some people do make that kind of money, but if you feel a little skeptical about that figure, you’re partly right. Most people don’t make that much bartending–but you can make some very solid money, and more importantly, you can take action yourself to make more. So how much do bartenders usually make?

Median hourly income:  $8.30/hour

Median hourly tips: $15/hour

Source: https://money.cnn.com/gallery/pf/2012/12/04/jobs-tips/4.html

First of all, it’s hard to say exactly. There isn’t much data out there about exactly how much bartenders make because most of their income is in tips—which should be reported to the government but sometimes, ahem, aren’t. The internet makes it pretty easy to gather informal information from bartenders on the ground, though.

And based on that, the answer is, it varies a lot. Most of your income will be in tips, and how much you make each night depends on three main factors: how many drinks you serve, how expensive they are, and how much your customers can or want to give. All those things are higher in places with a higher cost of living—so if you’re in the south or the middle of the country.

According to a study by TippingResearch.com which interviewed 1,000 service workers.ay men and couples are the best tippers! The worst? Foreigners and teenagers. This data was collected through the responses of over 1,000 service workers!   Here are the best and worst tippers:

Expect $30,000-$70,000 Per Year Including Tips

A typical salary at a decent bar will be in the neighborhood of $30,000 per year working full-time, the coasts will take you up the $45,000 or so, and cities will usually be higher than towns.

The highest salaries are around $70,000, but yes, some folks make $100,000.

No matter where in the country you are, where you fall in that $30,000-$70,000 range is going to depend a lot on the kind of bar you’re at.

Sports bars, for instance, will usually have pretty low prices, but get tons of traffic when there’s a big game on. Upscale restaurants will make you lots of tips per drink but get less traffic, and campus bars will get high traffic on Friday and Saturday night but the customers will tend to tip less. Hotels and country clubs make up for low traffic by offering their bartenders better hourly wages and benefits for their specialized attention to each customer. Basically, start out wherever you can get a job, and then look for somewhere that’s either high-volume or high-cost as you get better at your job and move up.


Those people making six figures are working in very particular kinds of places. High-end resorts, cocktail bars in places like Manhattan and San Francisco, exclusive nightclubs, and so on, are where you can pull in $1,000 in tips per night—places where the ultra-rich congregate. Of course, competition for those jobs is stiff, but you can work your way up to them.

What do you do to get those jobs? The same things you do to make more tips anywhere you work: upselling where you can (“You like bourbon, don’t you? Want to try our new bourbon cocktail?”), serving promptly, being friendly and personable, and making your customers feel special and valued. Remember their names, their favorite drinks, ask about their lives, tell them a joke: all customers are going to tip you better, and push your salary up, when they feel like you’re providing them the valuable service of a friendly face and attentive ear.

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