Bartender Job Description

Preparing and serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is the primary role of a bartender. It is also up to bartenders to maintain the cleanliness of the bar area, restock drinks, replenish bar snacks, keep inventory of supplies, and ensure that all bar equipment is working properly. Bartenders process payments and assist in creating bar menus. In some establishments, bartenders might also be responsible for taking orders and serving food.

Bartenders work mainly in restaurants or bars, but might also be employed at vacation resorts, clubs, or by catering companies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 2 percent employment growth rate for this profession between 2016 and 2026. An increase in full-service restaurants is the main reason for this projected growth rate. The BLS further reports that the employment of bartenders in bars will decrease 10 percent over the same time period, due to the rise in full-service restaurants and the subsequent closing of a growing number of local bars.


Bartender Duties and Responsibilities

In their daily routine, bartenders must complete several tasks in order to meet all job obligations. After examining several job listings, we have found the following to be among the most commonly listed responsibilities for this occupation:

Mix and Serve Drinks

Bartenders mainly work behind bars, taking customer orders and preparing drinks. They should be thoroughly knowledgeable about wines, beers, and liquors and understand how to mix various cocktails and other drinks.

Maintain Bar Area

Bartenders keep the bar clean and orderly. This includes everything from wiping down glasses and the bar top to maintaining an inventory of liquor and bar supplies. Bartenders typically keep bar snacks stocked and peel and slice various fruits used for garnishing drinks.

Develop Bar Menus

Bartenders can use their knowledge of commonly ordered drinks to help a business create a bar menu. Bartenders help describe each drink listed on the menu and add or remove drinks from the menu as dictated by popularity.


Bartender Skills

Bartenders should possess strong verbal communication, customer service, and interpersonal skills, as well as a warm and friendly demeanor, as they spend their days interacting with customers of various social and economic backgrounds. It is helpful for bartenders to have above-average math skills, as measuring drinks and handling money are major aspects of this profession. Employers also prefer candidates who possess the following abilities:

  • Discernment – bartenders must be well versed in their state’s alcohol and liability laws; able to spot customers who may have had too much to drink and unobtrusively take steps to prevent intoxicated customers from drunk driving by arranging transportation or calling a taxi; as well, they have to be on the alert for underage patrons
  • Communication and listening skills – bartenders welcome customers, take orders, serve drinks and food, and chat both to maintain a friendly atmosphere and to limit liability if there are indications that a patron might be getting intoxicated
  • Organization – bartenders are multi-taskers—they serve multiple customers at the bar as well as making drinks for restaurant patrons; they have to keep track of who ordered what, who paid, who still owes; and they have to keep the bar stocked and clean
  • Team player – bartenders should be adept at working in a team environment, as they work closely with waitstaff, managers, and other servers


Bartender Tools of the Trade

Being a bartender involves using a variety of items. From our analysis of job postings, here are some of the most common:

  • Basic mixology tools – from cocktail shakers to muddlers, bartenders use various mixing tools to prepare different types of drinks
  • Basic bar tools – corkscrews, bottle openers, and more
  • Cash register – in most settings, bartenders are responsible for handling money and should know how to operate a cash register


Bartender Education and Training

There is no formal degree requirement for those seeking to become a bartender, however, most employers seek job candidates who have completed a training program at a vocational or technical school. These kinds of programs address such topics such as mixology, classes of alcohol, garnishes, and brand names.


Bartender Salary

The most current statistics provided by the BLS show that bartenders earn a median annual salary of $19,530; in the lowest ten percentile, they earn $16,980 and in the highest ten percent they can make $37,980. Bartenders working in restaurants tend to earn more than those working in other environments. States where bartenders are paid the highest mean annual wages in the U.S. include Hawaii ($35,960), Alaska ($31,090), and Washington ($30,480).


Bartender Resources

There are many helpful resources out there for those interested in becoming a bartender. Check out these links that are full of the latest industry news.

National Bartender’s Association – Founded in 1986, this association provides professional bartenders with an online community, articles, and e-zine covering industry standards, bartender responsibilities, and more. – A great website offering a free online magazine and news pertaining to bartending.

AllBartenders Blog – This blog contains articles about current trends, best practices, and insights into this career.

Bartending Blueprint Blog – From interviews to overviews of the job and job training options, this blog provides several insightful articles for beginning and seasoned bartenders.

Working as a Bartender: Make Money and Have Fun – From job benefits to tips for having fun in this occupation, this book is a brief career guide for those considering working as a bartender.

How to Become a Bartender: Get a Bartending Job With Little or No Experience in 30 Days or Less – This book explores various aspects of preparing for and working as a bartender, from setting goals and creating resumes to terminology and popular drink instructions.


Bartender Resume Help

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