Bartenders: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

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Job description

Bartenders mix and serve drinks to patrons, directly or through waitstaff.

  • Clean glasses, utensils, and bar equipment.
  • Collect money for drinks served.
  • Balance cash receipts.
  • Check identification of customers to verify age requirements for purchase of alcohol.
Read more about what does a Bartender really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$26780 per year

Average hourly wage
$13 per hour

Bartenders with little to no experience tend to make between $17610 and $19180 while the more experienced ones can earn over $29980 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
HI $26 $55,060
DC $21 $43,600
VT $18 $36,720
WA $17 $35,390
NY $17 $34,800

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Bartender is to move to a higher paying state like HI. Right now, the highest paying states for Bartenders are HI, DC, VT, WA and NY.

However, a higher pay at HI doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at HI might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Bartender is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
No degree required

We asked other Bartenders what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a High School Diploma followed by less than a High School Diploma.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Read more about how to become a Bartender and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Bartender.

Suitable for people who likes to start and carry out projects
Suitable for people who values relationships between co-workers and customers and wants to work in a friendly non-competitive environment
This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.
It is easy to get into this career. Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.
Normal working hours (40 hours per week)
Not suitable for people who likes to solve problems mentally
One of the lowest paying jobs

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

61% of Bartenders said they were satisfied with their job and 32% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Working experience from Chris Daniel Source: Direct

I have been a seasonal bartender for the last 8 years. I normally work the summer in the Greek islands as a bartender and a musician. I have not worked there this year due to COVID but plan to go again this summer if possible. As I work a dual job when I bartend I hope I can give you a unique perspective.

What is it like being a bartender?

Working with drunk people can be tough sometimes. Yet, for the most part, it is one of the most fun jobs you can do. Depending on how busy you are and what kind of clientele you have for an evening, you can make some lifelong friendships with the other staff and customers.

As a bartender in a busy summer venue, the work can get pretty stressful if you are three deep at the bar and everyone is ordering cocktails. You have to be adaptable, a quick learner, and thrive under a bit of pressure.

You can become a local celebrity if you learn some extra bartending skills. I would often get up on the bar a play a song, or my boss would do some bottle twirling with the bottles on fire. Anything extra you can do to get people paying attention to the bar will increase your tips and how much fun your night is.

It can be a hard job to work if you’re in a bad mood. If you aren’t friendly to customers, your tips plummet and it almost isn’t worth working.


  • Daytime is usually free to do whatever you want
  • Metting new and interesting people
  • TIPS! These can be huge, people become a lot more generous after a few drinks. Especially if you offer outstanding service.


  • TIPS! A pro and a con. If the bar is not busy your wages decrease significantly
  • Having to occasionally deal with aggressive drunk people

Working experience from Clay the Bartender Source: Direct

I’ve been bartending for 3 years now. I love it because it allows me to tap into my creativity while also being social. It feels good to be able to facilitate social interactions and celebrations. I also find it comforting to know that it’s a career that will require me to constantly learn and grow.

A challenge of bartending can sometimes be meeting the expectations of what your guests may think a bartender should be. Some guests feel that bartenders should be entertainers, while others feel that they should know any random and obscure drink that they name at the drop of a dime. Some people think we’re cool rockstars and want us to be their friend and go home with them, while other people treat us like their personal therapist.

The major con to bartending in my opinion is that if the bar establishment facilitates and encourages a toxic work environment and practices (drinking on the job, favoritism, sexual harassment) then you either have to just go with it or find another job. It can also make you very cynical and dead inside if you let it. A lot of bartenders stay in the game too long and forget that they’re supposed to be having fun.

Working experience from Abby Hau Source: Direct

Life being a bartender

Bartending is an extremely satisfying and thrilling journey to take in the service industry. But, it can be a little overwhelming. As a bartender, there is a lot of multitasking, which can exhaust you, but bartending can give you a very thrilling experience once you are into it. Although it indeed requires a lot of socializing, it can be tough to maintain mental and physical peace. At times you will have to stand on your feet for long hours and socialize with annoying and ill-mannered people.

Besides physical requirements, you will have to hold your energy levels up because every customer deserves the same kind of kindness and service. To become a skilled bartender, you need to learn and experiment with new recipes and memorize a lot.

Pros and cons of being a bartender

As a bartender, you will not have to join any bartending learning school, so the skill is free of cost to learn. But the job requires hard work and a lot of practice. The second pro is that bartending can be a very stable job that can allow you to earn well, ranging from few dollars to hundreds and thousands of dollars.

But the flip side of the coin is that heavy music can damage your ears. The long night working hours can negatively impact your sleeping pattern. On weekends and public holidays, the job can be very demanding and can include extra working hours. As many of the people are drunk, you might have bad and nasty experiences. The job also offers no plans like retirement, pension, and promotion. This job is also not considered a reputable and valuable job, so you can also have difficulty applying to different jobs because the experience does not count.

Working experience from Daniel Chamberlain Source: Direct

My first job when I turned 18 in the UK was as a bartender, which I held for about 3 years during my university (college) career.

As a first job, this was great. It teaches you so many soft skills that I don’t think you pick up in too many work environments. Most importantly, it taught me to be confident when dealing with people and how to make small talk in quiet and sometimes awkward situations, skills which are useful for whichever career you might find yourself in later on in your life! At present, I work in affiliate marketing and I would say that it has benefited me here when I need to speak to new potential advertising partners and to negotiate/articulate what I want.

Furthermore, drunk clientele can be, unsurprisingly, quite pushy and often try and push back on the cost of drinks, or even barter for better deals. This taught me that it’s ok to push back on people and that you need to sometimes be more forceful with certain types of people, and that, sometimes, the customer is not always right.

The work-life balance is ok, I did initially find it tough because you would often have to work a minimum of at least one Friday or Saturday and especially when you’re young, you find that you do get a bit of FOMO with your friends doing other things. Working past midnight two days in a row can also be hard, but again, can be a good skill for later in life and whilst you’re young. But counter to this, usually, the people you work with are young and of a similar age and sort of person to yourself, so you often have good fun when working together.


  • Teaches confidence
  • Meet a lot of new people and make new friends
  • Free drinks
  • Tips can often be more than your wages if you work hard
  • Earn money on a Friday or Saturday night instead of going out – it’s like being paid twice!


  • Can miss out on some social gatherings with friends on Friday and Saturday night
  • Pay isn’t always that great overall

Overall, no regrets. A great first job that taught me a lot of skills!

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Entrepreneurs and The Organizers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like starting up and carrying out projects. They like leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business..

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

Learn more about Bartenders

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Related career information

Bartenders job description, Bartenders salary, Bartenders information, what is the job of a Bartender like, pros and cons about Bartenders, colleges and universities for Bartenders, is Bartenders the right career for me, careers in Food and Hospitality

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