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Bartender Jobs: Mix Drinks And Make Big Bucks

By Edited May 13, 2016 2 3

Bartender Jobs

How To Find Work Tending Bar In Your Area.

Bartender jobs are some of the most stressful, intense and demanding methods of earning a living you'll ever find. But they're also one of the most rewarding, in terms of fun and income. Regardless of if you're looking for your first bartender gig or are a seasoned barkeeper, follow these tips for landing the next big adventure behind the bar.

Let's start with the question that's on most people's minds who visit this page:

Where To Find Bartender Jobs

I'm going to break this section down into two parts: Entry Level Bartending Jobs and Experienced Bartender Jobs. This is to save you time. Feel free to skip over whatever part doesn't apply to you.

Entry Level Bartender Jobs

So you've decided to try your hand at bartending, huh? Well, congratulations, you're about to embark on a career that will prove both fun and exciting, and hopefully lucrative. While it's true that there is quite a bit of money to be made in this industry, you'll probably need to spend some time honing your chops and building some experience. Real experience, from a real bar. Mixing drinks for your friends doesn't count, no matter how amazing they say your triple vodka sour martinis taste.

The only way to get that experience is to squeeze your way into an entry-level bartender job. I say "squeeze" only because of the competitiveness within this industry, in most cities even the least desirable gigs behind the counter are tough to get into. That's the bad news. The good news is that the turnover rate amongst entry-level bartender jobs is insanely high; some folks move on to greener pastures, others quit the industry all together. The point is that finding an entry-level bartending job to build your resume credibility is easy than it may seem.

Start by asking the managers at your favorite bars or pubs if they could use an extra hand. Explain that you're wanting to dive into the industry, are willing to work hard and just need someone to take a chance on you. Surprisingly, this is how most bartender jobs are filled, simple word of mouth and a little extra effort on the bartender's part. Even if they don't have any positions available, they might spread the word to throughout their "bartender's circle."

If that doesn't work, you'll need to hit the streets. Put together a great resume that highlights all the bartender training you've had (you have had some, right?), including any bartender schools, courses or workshops you've taken. Because your practical experience is low, you'll need to overemphasize your work ethic, willingness to learn and last but not least, your bartending skills themselves.

How To Find Entry Level Bartender Jobs? Bars and pubs aren't like "normal" businesses in the recruiting department. Many of them do nothing more than hang a sign on their door, which means it's up to you to go to as many as you can (in the name of getting a job, of course!) and see if they're hiring. The next course of action would be to check out free classifieds, notably Craigslist; bar owners are notorious for not spending money on this kind of stuff, and ads in newspapers or other classified magazines cost money, so does posting jobs on those big job-hunter websites like Monster.com. That's not to say you won't find any this way, so you should keep your eyes open here, just don't expect to find very many.

Experienced Bartender Jobs

If you've got some decent bartending experience under your belt and are looking to expand your horizons to more lucrative places, here are a few tried-and-true suggestions to land that dream job. Or at the very least, one ladder rung closer to it.

Network, network, network. Bartenders and bar owners are an awful tight-knit group, and often hire new people based off recommendations from their own. A bar owner or manager often hires new bartenders from the recommendations of their own staff. Or they may hear from one of their buddies in the business that "this kid is a really great bartender, we dont' have a sport for him, but he'd work out great in your pub." The more friends you make in this industry, the better your chances of landing one of those lucrative bartending jobs that pay outrageous tips.

Perhaps more than any other industry, your reputation as a great bartender will preceded you, so never stop building credibility. Develop a rock solid reputation as a good bartender and you'll be surprised at how many doors eventually open themselves up for you. I'm not suggesting that managers will come knocking on your door (it does happen, though), because you'll still need to get the word out that you're looking for work. But having that iron clad reputation is one of the defining criteria that managers and owners will discuss behind closed doors.

The nicest bars and night clubs rarely advertise open positions. That's because they're never at a shortage of people lining up for the opportunity to work there. This is true of bartenders, waiters, waitresses, DJs and bouncers, too. The only way to get your name in the hat is to visit these places firsthand. Let them know you're looking for work, provide your resume, assure them you've got a solid reputation and explain how you'd make a better fit for their establishment than the dozens of other losers who are competing for the same job. (*Note: Don't call them "losers" in the interview, no matter how appropriate).

Bartender FAQs

After hearing the same questions over and over again, I decided it would make sense to address them in their own section. Don't see what you're looking for? Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this article; I (or other readers) will gladly address them.

Bartender Salary

We all want to make as much money as possible, right? I wish I could say all bartenders make triple digits every year, but that's simply not the case. The most lucrative bartender jobs will certainly eclipse that mark, but if you're not wearing a tuxedo to work every day, chances are you'll be working for much more modest wages. And almost without exception, the bulk of your take-home money will come as tips from satisfied customers.

While not a scientific metric, I've noticed that the money you're likely to make is related to the type of alcohol your bar serves. If you serve beer only, you'll probably need another job (or several) just to pay your rent. If you serve wine and fancy beer, you'll probably make a comfortable, but modest, salary. If your bar specializes in cocktails, you'll be out earning 80 percent of the bartenders in your area. If those cocktails are martinis, you'll probably earn more than most engineers. If you mix those martinis while wearing a tuxedo, and serve them to patrons who are also wearing tuxedos or formal dresses, you'll likely need your own accountant.

How To Become A Bartender

Unless you are one of the .001 percent of all successful bartenders who "fall into" the industry, you'll need some specialised bartender training. Most cities offer bartender schools and classes for a very reasonable price. If you can't find any in your area, check for online bartender training; while I can't vouch for all of them, the one's I've seen look very thorough.

Other Bar Careers

Mixing drinks and serving beer isn't the only way to make a handsome living in the bar, pub and nightclub industry. Waiters and waitresses do very well for themselves at the right places, so do bouncers, security, DJs, musicians and bussers. The take home salary typically follows the same sliding pay scale I outlined earlier in "Bartender Salary."

In Conclusion

Hopefully this article has helped your bar career. Whether you're looking to land that first bartender job, or are lusting after that high-paid lounge where patrons frequently leave $100 cash tips, you've now got a leg up on your competition.

But remember: All the bartending skills in the world won't make up for personality. Successful bartenders know that all the mixed drink recipes in the world won't make up for a friendly, professional personality. Treat your customers with respect, and treat them the way you'd want to be treated. A genuinely nice person will not only land the best bartending jobs, they'll also make more tips at every step of their careers.

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Comments

Feb 5, 2012 10:53pm
Goldenpig
Good article I loved the bit on bartender salary. Several years ago I was a line cook in a few pubs and, was always amazed (dismayed compared to cooks) at how much bartenders make in tips.
Feb 6, 2012 4:24am
Jerky
Thanks for reading! I know what you mean about bartenders making great tips. I remember a friend of mine bringing home several hundred dollars per night from his nightclub bartending gig. Not bad for 5 hours of work...
Feb 7, 2012 10:36am
Lynsuz
Good article. I owned a sports bar for 15 years, a good barkeep can earn well. That is if as you point out in your last paragraph they have good person to person skills.
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