A bartender should know how to make a wide variety of drinks and be competent enough to do so swiftly and efficiently. So while you typically do not need formal training, it may help you get your first job or advance to a higher paying one. Bartending schools, or trade schools that offer bartending classes, typically teach you the finer points of cocktail recipes, garnishes, food handling, attire and conduct, as well as state and local laws and regulations.
Many schools may also help you find a job upon completing the course. In order to serve alcohol, you must be at least 21-years-old.
What Does a Bartending Job Involve?
Depending on where you work, you may take orders directly from customers or solely through waiters and waitresses. You may have to check customers' identification to ensure they're old enough to drink. A bartender traditionally serves various types of alcohol including mixed drinks, bottled and draught beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks too. At some places you may also serve food to patrons who sit at the bar to eat. You also have responsibility for maintaining the bar (or, at larger or busier establishments, your section of the bar). This may involve:
- Collecting payment and operating the cash register
- Keeping the bar clean
- Maintaining an adequate supply of ice, glasses and bar supplies
- Ordering and maintaining an inventory of liquor and mixes
- Stocking and preparing garnishes
- Washing glassware and utensils
Many bartenders work part-time shifts, but full-time jobs are also available. The average bartender earned $9.84 an hour in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this income is usually supplemented with tips.