Mix drinks, check IDs, and chat with bar customers.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$16,000 – $31,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Bartenders do?

Bartenders are modern-day Merlins, making cocktails instead of concoctions. Instead of dragon’s blood and unicorn horns, they mix vodka and gin. Never mind the beer goggles served with your last brew, which might easily have been a medieval cure for social leprosy. What happens after your fifth Long Island Iced Tea isn’t magic; it’s a hangover.

As a Bartender, your magic may not cure diseases, but it definitely cures the blues. Part Barkeep, part Therapist, you mostly serve drinks. Sometimes, however, you also serve advice.

Because your job is as much about customers as cocktails, you must be patient and compassionate. Because you’ll be knee-deep in drinks and drunks, however, you also must have a strong liver and an iron fist.

Whether you work at a bar or restaurant, your day — or more often, night — typically begins with prep work, including slicing fruit for garnishes, as well as arranging bottles and glasses for display. During your shift, you’ll not only mix and pour drinks, but also plan menus, create recipes, clean glassware, order supplies, supervise staff, check IDs and manage bar tabs. Finally, as the night goes on, you’ll make sure your patrons don’t drink too much, and call them taxis when they do.

If you’re really good, you may supplement your income with winnings from bartending contests, which recognize “extreme” Bartenders who serve up spectacular shows alongside their delicious drinks. Think Tom Cruise in Cocktail, or Piper Perabo in Coyote Ugly (and then, for the sake of cinema, please promptly forget them).

Should I be a Bartender?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.

  • Also known as: Bar Attendant, Bar Captain, Barkeep, Barkeeper, Barmaid, Barman, Bar Tender, Bartender Extra, Bartender Server See More

    How to become a Bartender

    Bartenders often have a Certificate or higher. Chart?chd=s:9ibaak&chl=no+college+%2857%25%29|certificate+%2832%25%29|associate%27s+%281%25%29|||doctorate+%2810%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,57,57
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