How to Become a Bartender

How to Become a Bartender


So you want to become a bartender? Maybe you’ve heard about the solid money you can make or maybe you’re just passionate about liquor, but either way you’re next step is landing that first job. Breaking into the industry isn’t always easy, but it’s absolutely doable with a little knowledge and patience. Here’s a run-down of the things you’ll need to do to become a bartender.

  1. Know what it takes. If you like making cocktails at home, bartending may seem like an easy way to make serious money—but working in a bar takes a lot more than just cocktail mixing skills. Learn what a bartender actually does. You’ll need to be ready and able to put on the charm even when you don’t feel like it, deal calmly with drunk and disorderly customers, work odd hours, and multi-task like a beast, just to name a few.
  2. Learn the trade. Top bartending jobs are competitive, and you’ll need to know your stuff backwards and forwards. Bartending classes can be a great way to learn about both the world of liquor—from how to mix cocktails to the difference between an IPA and an APA—and about the less happy parts of bartending, like ID laws, how to tell if someone is intoxicated, and legal liabilities.
  3. Keep up to date. Don’t let your education stop with classes, though. Follow cocktail blogs, read books, talk to other bartenders, and generally keep your finger on the pulse of drink culture. It will help set you apart from the competition at those desirable bars, and help you move up from other positions faster.
  4. Get certified. Your employer, state, or city may require you to get a certification (different from a bartending course) before you can serve alcohol—the most commonly required ones are TIPS and ServeSafe. Do some research about what you need in your area. There’s usually a grace period to get the certification after you start working, but at least knowing what you need will help you seem professional and prepared in interviews.
  5. Job interview skills! Just like with any other job, practice good job interview skills as you apply places. From your employer’s perspective, your ultimate job as a bartender is to increase sales—so be professional, charming, and get a sense of the customers, specialties, and overall vibe of each place you apply. All those things will help convince them you’ll be able to get customers buying.
  6. Work your connections. It’s much, much easier to get your first job in any industry if you know someone. Don’t be afraid to let anyone you know in the restaurant or bar industry know you’re looking to get your foot in the door—even a mild personal recommendation may be the thing that sets you apart from the stack of resumes.
  7. Be willing to start small. Most bars hire from within, and that means that bartending course or not, you’re probably going to have to start small. That could mean taking a job as a bar back or server, working at a less-than-ideal place, or taking the less lucrative daytime or event gigs—whatever it is, think of it as a stepping stone as you work your way up. With some patience, hard work, and knowledge, you’ll soon move up the ladder to the bartending job of your dreams.stacked glasses

Minimum ages to bartend


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