Bartending is a great job for many types of people. College students, writers, and aspiring singers and actors have the opportunity to work flexible hours such as nights and weekends. Furthermore, the average bartender salary is not bad. However, the work is physically hard; so if you are not in shape, it is probably not the best job for you.
Many people do not get into bartending for the bartender salary. The pay is better than working an entry-level job as a gas station attendant, but it is not what you could make as an external auditor or CPA-holding professional tax specialist either. Overall, it may be a good job if you are still working on your education for a white-collar career or you are looking for a career in bar management or bar ownership. It may take you 10 years to make manager without formal education or 20 years to own a bar; but if you want to own your own business, a bar is an excellent way to go. With that being said, let's get into the job description, bartender salary, qualifications and more.
What is there to bartending besides serving drinks to customers? Let's dive into this.
One reason the starting bartender salary is so low is the low barrier to entry. There are no formal education requirements; although many who want to pursue bartending as a career attend a bartending school. The total length of class time varies, but usually the course lasts a few weeks. You will learn about local and state regulations regarding the sale of alcohol, cocktail recipes, proper dress and etiquette and how to stock a bar. Others may opt to take a class at a local technical or vocational school.
Another way to get a job as a bartender is to train on the job for a few weeks as a bar back. Shadow a seasoned bartender to learn the ropes regarding company policy, how to mix and pour drinks, how to communicate effectively with customers and, if applicable, how to handle and serve food.
There are several traits good bartenders have.
The average bartender salary varies greatly from establishment to establishment. A list based on industry follows.
To learn more about a bartender salary, it is important to note that bartenders are generally classified as tipped employees. By law, if you receive more than $$ per month on a regular basis, you are a tipped employee and your employer is only required to pay you $ per hour. The exception to this rule is if you earn poor tips one day, your employer is legally required to provide you with daily pay that is equal to at least your state's minimum wage requirements.
For example, in Oregon, the state minimum wage is $ per hour. Your employer is required to ensure you make at least $$$ before taxes and insurance for the day. If you only made $$ between your base compensation and tips, your employer will pay you an additional $.
BARTENDER SALARY: CAREER PATH
If you are industrious, you may not care as much about a bartender salary, because you have a bigger goal in mind than taking home cash every night. Many bartenders start out as hostesses, waitresses or cocktail waitresses, so they have experience with the company before they get hired as a bartender. Others, train as a bar back for a few weeks to a year to gain experience. The average bartender's assistant makes between $ per year. For reference, minimum wage earners make $ per year before tax.
The average bartender salary, depending on the industry, is between $ and $$ per year. The bottom 10% of earners may make $ or less per year, while the top 10% of earners may make $$$ or more. This depends on what kind of establishment you work in and the demographics of the residents and tourists who visit your city of employment.
The average bar manager salary is $$$ per year. Duties and responsibilities include running the bar program. Expect to watch numbers such as beverages your bar has in stock compared to how much your point of sales system shows, expenses and revenue and managing the staff.
The average general manager salary is $$$ per year.
After 20 years in the industry, you can upgrade your starting bartender salary once again by leveraging both experience and liquid capital to buy or start your own bar. The average bar costs $$$ to purchase. Especially if you are purchasing an existing bar, expect around $$ per month in revenue and $ per month in expenses. This means after two years in business, you can pay off your investors and start to pay yourself. A 20% profit margin for bars is standard, so if your bar generated $$ per month in revenue, you can expect it to net around $ per month before taxes.
A career in bartending involves much more than serving beer and liquor. Bartenders have the responsibility of ensuring patrons are legally old enough to drink and safely and effectively dealing with them when they are too inebriated to drink more or drive. They need physical stamina and strength to walk several miles per shift and regularly lifting 50 pound cases of beer, mugs, glasses and spirits. Industries such as hotels and restaurants tend to offer much higher tips than establishments specifically selling alcohol. The rural South and Midwest will also provide you with fewer tips than large, coastal cities.
If you have a knack for creative cocktails, customer service, and bar management, one day you can open your own bar, even if you don't have a college education. Bars typically have an excellent 20% profit margin, making them a good choice if you have a significant interest in the industry. For your best shot at upper-level positions within a bar, take classes at local trade schools or community colleges, work hard and outshine all your coworkers with your outgoing personality and quality mixing skills.