If you want a career that also lets you be the life of the party, perhaps it's time to consider pursuing specialized education in bartending. Although specific jobs vary, most bartenders complete a wide range of tasks that involve creating and serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to customers in their care.
Becoming a bartender can open the door to a wide range of jobs in the restaurant, bar and pub, and catering industries. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 43 percent of bartenders worked in a restaurant or eating establishment in 2012. These types of jobs may also require bartenders to serve food and snacks and complete some restaurant-related tasks on the job. But bartending opportunities are not just limited to bars and restaurants. The BLS reports that 7 percent of bartenders worked in traveler accommodation, and 5 percent worked in other amusement and recreation industries in 2012.
Bartending schools can prepare students for any number of career opportunities in the food/beverage and hospitality industry. The following list includes some of the possibilities:
- Bartenders in bars and pubs - Take drink orders, mix and create drinks, and collect payments from customers.
- Bartenders in restaurants - Take drink orders and provide alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink service as well as food service to customers in their service area.
- Bartending caterers - Offer bartending services on-the-go, or at any location the customer chooses.
Bartending certifications and degree programs
According to the BLS, most bartenders learn their skills by completing on-the-job education. However, a growing number of students have begun learning the trade at bartending schools, trade schools, or technical schools. As the BLS notes, these schools not only offer instruction in the craft of bartending, but also offer students a primer on state and federal regulations that govern the sale of alcohol. These programs vary in length, but many can be completed in less than six weeks.
The BLS also noted that students who don't complete postsecondary education at bartending schools may be able to work their way up to this career by becoming a waiter or waitress and being promoted.
Bartending wages and career information
Because of the ongoing demand for entertainment, restaurant and dining services, the demand for bartenders remains high. According to the BLS and U.S. Department of Labor figures, employment for bartenders is expected to increase 12 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022, or about as fast as the average for all occupations combined. The BLS also notes that as more bars, taverns, and clubs open to meet demand, new and exciting jobs may open up. In the meantime, some workers in this field will be needed to replace those who leave the profession.
According to BLS data, the following states employed the most bartenders in 2013:
- California: 52,380
- New York: 37,840
- Texas: 36,240
- Florida: 34,320
- Pennsylvania: 29,890
Although growth for this career on the national level is expected to be healthy, some states predict a bigger surge in employment for workers than others during the coming decade. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Projections Central, the following states expect the most growth for bartenders from 2012 to 2022:
- Idaho: 29%
- Arizona: 28.1%
- New York: 27.9%
- Georgia: 27.5%
- Texas: 25.5%
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for bartenders nationwide was $18,920 in 2013. Meanwhile, the top ten percent of workers earned an average of $32,780 that year. Entry-level bartenders might earn close to minimum wage at first, but bartenders may receive compensation in the form of tips, so these figures may be significantly undervalued.
- Bartenders, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/bartenders.htm#tab-1
- Bartenders, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes353011.htm
- Projections Central, Long-Term Occupational Projections, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm