There are a lot of perks to becoming a bartender.
If you’re someone that enjoys interacting with lots of different people, staying up until the wee hours of the night, and experimenting with new drink recipes, then bartending might be the perfect career path for you. It’s not as simple to become one as you might think, however.
There’s a lot of training involved in becoming a bartender. You also need to have a lot of knowledge about alcohol from around the world and experience. If you’re going to become a high-end bartender, you need to put in the work.
In this post, we’re going to help you land your dream job by outlining all of the steps that you need to take along the way. This is your guide on how to become a bartender.
It might not be rocket science, but there is a fair bit of science involved. Be willing to learn and you’ll be making money doing what you love in no time.
Why Become a Bartender?
Before you start on your career path, it’s good to understand what you’re getting yourself into. The median annual pay for bartenders is around $23,000, but a lot of extra income may come through tips.
As you gain more experience, your annual wage will increase through tips, sometimes by double or triple. Nothing is guaranteed, however, which makes budgeting and doing taxes a bit more complicated as a bartender.
It’s also important to understand what the requirements are. Luckily, in most states, you only have to be 18 to serve alcohol, but check your state’s laws to find out exactly, because the minimum age could be 19 or 21.
Getting Certified or Bartending School
One of the great perks of becoming a bartender is that you don’t have to go through formal education to get a great job. You will, however, want certification.
A bartender’s license isn’t required in every state, but having one will give you a leg up when you’re searching for jobs. For example, to bartend in Texas, you need your TABC certification.
Certification ensures that you understand the laws about serving alcohol to minors, when to stop serving certain patrons, and how to handle unruly customers, among other things.
Getting a bartender’s license is easy to do, but if you’re taking your bartending career very seriously, then you can go to bartending school. Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about mixology and pouring.
As helpful as certification and bartending school can be for young bartenders, the best way to learn is by doing. As much as bartending school helps with preparing you for making great drinks, half of the job is being able to multitask and socialize with customers. If you can’t work in a fast-paced, often stressful, environment, then you won’t be in the upper echelon of bartenders.
When you start looking for jobs with no bartending experience, you’ll be starting out as a barback first. A barback does most of the manual labor behind the bar, like cleaning, changing kegs, restocking bottles, etc.
It’s not fun work, but it’s a great way to get acquainted with the pacing of the establishment and you’ll get to watch how the more experienced bartenders operate under pressure. Nothing beats being able to watch and learn from a great bartender.
Becoming a People Person
The social side of bartending is something a lot of young, wannabe bartenders overlook. You need to be personable with your customers without coming on too strong. As a bartender, you’ll be dealing with many different types of customers and coworkers, which is why social butterflies really thrive in this role.
The hard part comes with straddling the line between being social and multitasking. You may notice that busy bartenders are always running around, so you need to know when to stop the chit-chat and get to work.
Communication skills are going to be important as well. When a bar gets busy, you’ll need to be able to speak loud and clear to both coworkers and customers to be heard over the loud chatter of the bar. If communication breaks down, you might get the wrong drink order to the wrong customer.
Pouring and Mixing
If you don’t go to bartending school to learn how to pour properly and mix delicious drinks, then you’ll need to pay close attention while on the job. Mixology has become a huge phenomenon in the bartending world and taking your career to the next level could depend on your expertise.
When you start out, you’ll be making pretty standard drinks, as well as any specials that your bar has on the menu. As you develop your palette and move forward in your bartending career, however, you could be the one creating the drink recipes.
Getting to the mixologist level means using your spare time to trial and error different things, which means you’ll be taste testing a lot and making lots of drinks for your friends. How far you go into mixology will depend on how much time you want to spend on it.
Waiting For the Right Gig
As you might have guessed by now, your dream bartending job isn’t going to appear out of thin air. You have to put a lot of work in and build your resume before you land at a place that suits your personality and lets you grow into the best bartender you can be.
The key is patience. Use every job you have, whether it’s barbacking or serving at a restaurant bar, to learn new skills and develop good habits. Eventually, you’ll have enough on your resume to get a job at your favorite bar.
Learning How to Become a Bartender, Step By Step
So that’s how to become a bartender. It’s a long road to the top, but with the right dedication to your craft, there’s no reason you can’t get a great job and make serious cash. Take these tips and get started on your new bartending career today.
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