Bartending can be one of the most exciting, rewarding, and lucrative careers in the food service industry. If you are personable, charismatic, and quick on your feet, you can make hundreds of dollars per night and meet a lot of interesting people. Unfortunately, bartending is an extremely competitive industry and the career path can be shrouded in mystery. If you want to set yourself apart as a bartender, this article will prepare you to start your journey.
Many people choose to go the route of partaking in formal training when starting their career. Many schools exist that offer realistic training in mixology and prove to be a useful asset when trying to break into the business. Ranging from $200-$2500+, this path can be expensive, but having one of these schools on your resume will most certainly set you apart from other job candidates.
Bartending schools typically have mock bars set up to teach you in the same environment you'll be working in. They'll help you learn the most popular drink recipes, the local laws and regulations, and address common workplace pitfalls that new bartenders face.
Because of the realistic training, you'll become a master at pouring correct amounts of liquor. This is extremely important as bars frequently monitor their liquor usage and overpouring can be severely punished. This is arguably the most important skill that bartenders can have.
Other people choose to forego formal training and choose to learn while working a current food service job. This provides it's own benefits, as your time spent working up to a bartending position can be used to learn the in and outs of the bar business.
If you choose to start at a restaurant, you'll unfortunately have to move through the ranks to get a shot at bartending. Restaurants typically go by seniority and dues must be paid to get the coveted position. Although waiters and waitresses make decent money, this is also the least lucrative of the two types of workplace training you can do. The other option allows you to make bartender-like wages while finding mentors to help you along in your career.
This other position is called a "Barback" and they're responsible for keeping bars stocked and cleaned during peak hours. This is a very physically demanding job -- you're responsible for carrying bottles of liquor, kegs, buckets of ice, and other supplies. However, barbacks are typically paid a percentage of the bartender's tips at the end of the night. Because of this, you can still make great money while learning from experienced bartenders.
Unfortunately because of the physical demands, bars rarely hire women to be barbacks. If you're a female, you'll more than likely have to pursue the restaurant option if you choose to do workplace training.
In addition to bartending training, obtaining certifications will definitely help you set yourself apart from other candidates. Many businesses don't hire people without certifications and having one will expand your options by quite a bit.
Many local governments require further certification, but the most widely accepted is the ServSafe.
Using this information, I'm sure that all aspiring bartenders out there can be successful and find lucrative and rewarding careers in one of the most exciting fields in the food service industry. There are many avenues to go down and no one can tell you which is the right one for you, but hopefully I've shed some light on your options and helped you further along in your aspiration to become a fully qualified bartender.