How to Become a Bartender: 6 Incredible Tips

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How hard is it to become a bartender? Well, if this is your dream job, this article gives you tips on how to become a bartender and be good at it. Read on to discover some excellent insights.

So, you are thinking of becoming a bartender?

Well, that’s not a bad career choice.

Being a bartender is not only fun, but it also pays well, allowing you to maintain a decent lifestyle.

However, like any other job, bartending comes with its good share of challenges. First, it’s not as easy as most of us might think. It is a tough job that requires long working hours and sometimes dealing with rowdy customers. Also, if you are not a social person, you might want to search for jobs that fit introverts. This one might be quite challenging for you.

But before everything else, you must learn the basics of how to become a bartender – that is, if you are serious about it. That’s why we have prepared this comprehensive guide on how to become a bartender just for you. Here, we’ll share all the essential tips on how to start and become a successful bartender.

wine, champagne

How to Become a Bartender: Best Tips

What do you need to become a bartender? Let us dive right in:

1. Start with a Bartender Course

While you’ll come across many articles advocating for not taking bartender classes, it’s quite essential that you do. The fact is, while you might be a quick learner, social person, and knows a thing or two about bartending, that course is as important as any other requirements on this job.

A bartending course allows you to gain all the essential skills to start your journey as a bartender. It gives you confidence and makes you comfortable as you do your magic behind the counter. Without that course, you might never land that dream job in your dream bar.

After you’ve armored yourself with a certificate, you can now start looking for real work experience. Combine these two, and you have the best chance of making good money as a bartender.

2. Get your Bartending License

Generally, this isn’t a requirement in some states. However, you might not know where your bartending job takes you. Therefore, getting a bartending license is quite important.

When applying for bartending position, some bars might put this as a requirement, and if you don’t have it, you might miss your chance of being hired.

Note: Different states will have different age requirements for offering this license. Understanding what age your state demands is, therefore, important before making any other step. Taking a bartending license course familiarizes you with the following:

  • The state’s laws and penalties on underage drinking
  • Understanding the best ways to handle or prevent disturbances
  • Learning different intoxication stages in your customers

The good thing here is that you can get this certification online. However, ensure that the course you take is approved by your state.

3. Work as a Barback

liquor bottles

If you are wondering how to become a bartender with no experience, this is the best place to start. After your bartending course, becoming a barback exposes you to the real bar culture. And, while it might seem like a tough place to start, you’ll have the best chance to start amassing the experience you need.

The only thing required to get hired as a barback is your willingness to work. You will be required to handle the manual tasks behind the bar, including restocking and cleaning. However, since you’ll be working as the bartender assistant, you can easily observe and learn all the tricks and terms necessary for your target job. 

Also, since you might be green in the bar and foodservice industries, this is an opportunity to see how daily bar operations are handled. This way, when you finally become a bartender, things will run all easy and smooth.

Besides being a barback, you can also start as a food or cocktail server as you progress towards becoming a successful bartender. So, if you wanted to learn how to become a bartender at 18 with zero experience, this is where you start.

4. Learn the Basics

The process of learning how to become a bartender requires you to have the basics at your fingertips. This way, once you start the actual job, you won’t have to start wondering what to do or when to do it.

For instance, while working as a server or a barback, ensure you’ve learned the following duties as they almost always come with being a bartender.

  • Pouring drinks
  • Taking orders
  • Relating to customers
  • Offering menus
  • Creating cocktails
  • Maintaining bar stock levels
  • Cleaning the bar
  • Checking IDs to ensure you are not selling to minors
  • Monitoring your customers’ intoxication levels
  • Receiving payments

While some of them seem easy and obvious, they significantly determine how good a bartender you become.

5. Charm the Employers with your CV

Taking a bartending course or gaining the right experience is not enough if your potential employers don’t know what you have. And, with the employers getting tons of CVs from qualified bartenders, you need to make sure that yours stand out.

 But, how do you do this? How do you get employers to want to go through your CV?

Check out these tips:

  • Clearly list your skills and qualifications
  • Include relevant experience
  • Include some personality
  • Keep everything professional
  • Keep it precise and to the point

Having the right information arranged in the right manner can make a huge difference.

6. Hone your Soft Skills

While these skills are hard to measure or define, they are as important as the hard skills (pouring drinks, maintaining stock, mixing cocktails, etc.)

If you want to become a successful bartender, here are some must-have soft skills.

Multi-tasking skills: This is the first and most important skill of a bartender. Since you’ll be dealing with so many issues at a go, you need to be good at remembering them all and ensuring that none is forgotten. For instance, you will be receiving and processing multiple orders, all while being required to monitor the bar, talk and relate with colleagues, and keep customers happy.   

Social skills: The job involves interacting with people all the time. Whether it’s dealing with your colleagues or customers, it’s given that you’ll be interacting with people. For this reason, you need to love or learn how to relate to all kinds of people. You must also learn to maintain conversations and keep your customers comfortable.

Communication skills: Effective communication means that people can hear and understand what you are saying. You should be able to clearly pass your message without colleagues and customers misinterpreting it. Also, good communication skills ensure that you understand what your customers want and deliver their orders effectively. This is the key to a smooth running of a bar.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Bartender?

cruise ship bar

Generally, a bartending course and certification will take you 40 coursework hours. You should be able to complete this within 2 to 3 weeks.

However, as we have seen on the above “how to become a bartender” tips, this is just the beginning. You will still need to gain experience working at a bar before attaining the right skills to become a bartender. Some people will start low, as servers, while others as barbacks.

This means that besides the 40 hours, you need more time to become acquainted with the actual bar culture and operations. Here, your learning speed will determine how fast you move from being a barback to being a full-time bartender. But if you are lucky, you can still get a bartending job immediately after your bartending course.

See related: How to Make $200 a Day | Side Hustles & Jobs

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Bartender?

In many schools, a bartending course will cost anywhere between $200 and $600. This covers 40 hours of in-person coursework.

However, many online courses cost much less than this. The only problem here is that online courses might fail to offer the much-needed hands-on learning necessary for building desired skills and experience.

So, is the cost of becoming a bartender worth it? Certainly yes!

Most bartenders will go home with over $200 in tips a night. And, if you are working in a high-end establishment, this might even be more.

Bartenders’ salaries are also attractive compared to other jobs in the same category. For instance, most bars will pay an average of $10 an hour. This, plus the tips, ensures that a bartender has enough to pay their bills and more.

How to Become a Bartender on a Cruise Ship

Becoming a bartender can be quite exciting. However, landing a bartender job on a cruise ship is even better.

But, for you to qualify as a cruise ship bartender, here are some qualifications you should meet.

  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Be fluent in English
  • Be over 21 years
  • A high school or GED diploma
  • At least two years of working experience – mainly in the food and beverage industry.
  • Speaking multiple languages will be an added advantage.
  • Be good in math as you will be doing some calculations, including commissions, discounts, percentages, etc.

Should I Become a Bartender?

The hard fact is, bartending is not an easy and smooth job. Besides those attractive mixology skills and a chance to travel the world, many challenges come with the job.

But, if you are passionate about it, the challenges shouldn’t deter you from reaching that dream. Here are a few reasons why bartending can be an excellent part-time or full-time job.

  • Bartending offers an excellent chance to travel the world, especially to famous tourist destinations.
  • As this is a social profession, you meet many interesting people and hear numerous interesting stories.
  • Interacting with different people all the time helps boost your confidence and learn new things.
  • It allows you to be more creative as you experiment and create new drinks and cocktails.
  • Bartending gives you an opportunity to make other people happy as you serve their favorite drinks.

If you are searching for a bartending job, you can check out platforms like Ziprecruiter, Flexjobs, etc. 

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