Career Tips: How To Become A Bartender

Bartenders don't have to go to bartending school. Advice on getting into the bar field.

So, you want to be a bartender? Looks like a lot of fun does it? You get to meet a whole lot of interesting people who will tell you all their problems and maybe look up to you as a superior being...maybe even fill your pockets with tips that'll make you rich...and you'll have this wonderful romantic job that you don't have to work at? I mean c'mon, it certainly isn't hard standing behind a bar mixing drinks all night...right?...WRONG!

Bartenders work extremely hard! Not only do you have to take care of the wait staff, keep the beer and liquor stock in check, keep the glasses clean, make sure everyone at the bar has what they need, watch out for the boss (he gets real cranky if his drinks aren't just right), make sure you don't serve someone who's underage or almost as bad...someone who's already way too drunk to be drinking any more, listen to yet another drunk guy talk about what a total loser he is or better yet...talk about what a loser his ex-girlfriend/wife was, and do all this with a smile on your face and always ready to listen and help some poor soul feel better about themselves (whew, that was a mouthful eh?...smile). If you don't stay happy and friendly all the time, guess what?...You really don't make any decent tips! If you've had a bad day...set it aside, get over it!...because if you don't, you'll never make it as a bartender.

It may not be all physical, but believe me, stress is just as demanding on your health. Trust me, this is one heck of a stressful job.



Is it fun? Yes, sometimes it is, but you shouldn't romanticize it. Bartending is a whole lot of work, and the amount of fun you'll have isn't enough to cover up the fact that you really will work harder than you think.

Will you meet a lot of interesting people? Yes, only most of them won't be the nice kind of interesting, most people get a personality change for the worse when they're drinking. For the second part of that question...will they look upon you as a superior being? Yes, some will...but remember, these people are in an altered state, and half won't even remember you the next day. If you keep that in mind, it can be somewhat of an ego boost regardless.

Will your tip jars be overflowing with cash? Nope, not unless you're willing to put up with a whole lot more than most people can take, and even then...you'll never make as much as you're truly worth if your a good bartender. Once most people get really drunk, they either forget to tip or they're too wasted to care.

How do you get in? Well, first of all...if you aren't a very easy going person...find something else, bartending isn't for you. If you think you have what it takes and your willing to basically baby-sit some very strange people...give it a try. Just don't go into thinking it's going to be all fun and games. It's hard work and extremely stressful, but also extremely satisfying at the end of the shift. You've been listening to people tell you all night what a wonderful person you are, so what if they won't remember it the next day...you will!

Once you've finally decided that you can handle all these bad points of bartending, start with the wait staff. This is where you can learn drink names and what's in them, watch the bartenders. They can show you how to layer drinks, teach you about what types of liquors and mixers go in the different mixed drinks, and how to interact with the customers on a bartending level. Believe me, there really is a difference between bartender and customer interaction as apposed to waitress/waiter and customer interaction. Pay attention, it's something you need to learn.

If you've been to bartending school, don't put it on your application. Honestly, there's no substitute for experience in a real bar.

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