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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y69KZcKLfh0.
Quick Facts: Bartenders
2021 Median Pay $26,350 per year
$12.67 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2021 514,000
Job Outlook, 2021-31 18% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 92,000

What Bartenders Do

Bartenders mix drinks and serve them directly to customers or through wait staff.

Work Environment

Bartenders work at restaurants, hotels, and other food service and drinking establishments. During busy hours, they are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently. They often work late evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. Part-time work is common, and schedules may vary.

How to Become a Bartender

Bartenders typically do not need formal education credentials to enter the occupation. Most states require workers who serve alcoholic beverages to be at least 18 years old. They typically learn their skills on the job.

Pay

The median hourly wage for bartenders was $12.67 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of bartenders is projected to grow 18 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 105,300 openings for bartenders are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for bartenders.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of bartenders with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about bartenders by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Bartenders Do About this section

Bartenders
Bartenders mix drinks according to recipes.

Bartenders mix drinks and serve them directly to customers or through wait staff.

Duties

Bartenders typically do the following:

  • Greet customers, offer menus, and inform them of specials
  • Take customers’ food and drink orders
  • Pour and serve wine, beer, and other drinks
  • Mix drinks according to recipes
  • Check customers’ identification to ensure that they are of legal drinking age
  • Clean bars, tables, and work areas
  • Collect payment from customers and return change
  • Engage with customers
  • Manage the operation of the bar and restock liquor and bar supplies
  • Monitor the level of intoxication of customers

Bartenders fill drink orders for customers either directly at the bar or through waiters and waitresses serving the dining room. Bartenders must know a wide range of drink recipes and be able to mix drinks quickly. When measuring and pouring beverages, they must avoid spillage or overpouring. They should be personable with customers at the bar and also work well with waiters and waitresses and kitchen staff to ensure prompt service.

In addition to mixing and serving drinks, bartenders stock and prepare beverage garnishes and maintain ice, glasses, and other bar supplies. They also wash glassware and utensils and serve food to customers who eat at the bar. Bartenders usually are responsible for stocking and maintaining an inventory of liquor, mixers, and other bar supplies.

Bartenders may collect payment from customers after each drink is served or open a tab for a customer and collect payment when closing it at the end of service. They also must monitor customers for intoxication, determine when to deny service and, in some cases, arrange for safe transportation.

Work Environment About this section

Bartenders
Bartenders usually work evenings and weekends.

Bartenders held about 514,000 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of bartenders were as follows:

Restaurants and other eating places 44%
Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) 28
Civic and social organizations 6
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries 6
Traveler accommodation 5

Bartenders typically work indoors, some work outdoors at pool or beach bars or at catered events.

During busy hours, bartenders are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently while ensuring that no alcohol is served to minors or to overly intoxicated customers.

Bartenders do repetitive tasks, and sometimes they lift heavy kegs of beer and cases of liquor. In addition, the work may be stressful, particularly when they deal with intoxicated customers.

Work Schedules

Bartenders often work late evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. Part-time work is common, and schedules may vary.

How to Become a Bartender About this section

Bartenders
Bartenders should be friendly, tactful, and attentive when dealing with customers.

Bartenders typically do not need formal education credentials to enter the occupation, although some employers require or prefer for candidates to have a high school diploma. They typically learn their skills through on-the-job training that lasts a few weeks. Some bartenders gain experience in other jobs or occupations.

Most states require workers who serve alcoholic beverages to be at least 18 years old. Bartenders must be familiar with state and local laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Education

Bartenders typically need no formal education to enter the occupation, although employers may prefer or require candidates to have a high school diploma. Some aspiring bartenders acquire their skills by attending a school for bartending or taking courses at a community college. These programs usually include instruction on mixing cocktails, serving customers, and setting up a bar. Some schools help their graduates find jobs.

Training

Bartenders typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few weeks. Under the guidance of an experienced bartender, trainees learn cocktail recipes, bar-setup procedures, and customer service, including how to handle unruly customers and other challenging situations. In establishments where bartenders serve food, training may cover teamwork and proper food-handling procedures.

Some employers teach bartending skills to new workers by providing self-study programs, which may include videos and instructional booklets, that explain service skills.

License and Certification

Depending on the state and locality, a server, owner, manager, or business may be required to maintain a license to sell alcohol. Most states require that bartenders be at least 18 years old.

Many states and localities require bartenders to complete a responsible-server course. This course typically covers topics such as laws related to the sale of alcoholic beverages, responsible serving practices, and conflict management.  

Although optional, professional certification may demonstrate basic knowledge or competency in bartending practices. Certification is available upon successful completion of some courses or programs.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Bartenders typically do not need related work experience to enter the occupation. However, some employers prefer or require candidates to have food-service experience in occupations such as waiters and waitresses or food and beverage serving and related workers. Others start as bartender helpers and progress to become bartenders as they learn basic mixing procedures and recipes.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Bartenders must listen carefully to their customers’ orders, explain drink and food items, and make menu recommendations. They also should be able to converse with customers on a variety of subjects.

Customer-service skills. By creating a friendly and welcoming environment, bartenders help to ensure repeat business.

Decision-making skills. Bartenders must observe customers, identify those who are intoxicated or underage, and deny them service.

Multitasking skills. Bartenders must make drinks for and take orders from multiple customers, monitor customers at the bar, and receive payments in a fast, efficient manner.

Physical stamina. Bartenders spend hours walking or standing while preparing drinks and serving customers.

Physical strength. Bartenders should be able to lift and carry cases of liquor, beer, and other bar supplies that may weigh up to 50 pounds.

Pay About this section

Bartenders

Median hourly wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$22.00

Bartenders

$12.67

Food and beverage serving workers

$12.50

 

The median hourly wage for bartenders was $12.67 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.59, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.94.

In May 2021, the median hourly wages for bartenders in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Restaurants and other eating places $13.61
Traveler accommodation 13.54
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries 11.49
Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) 11.23
Civic and social organizations 10.93

These wage data include tips. Tipped employees earn at least the federal minimum wage, which may be paid as a combination of direct wages and tips, depending on the state. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor maintains a website listing minimum wages for tipped employees, by state, although some localities have enacted minimum wages higher than their state requires.

Bartenders often work late evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. Part-time work is common, and schedules may vary.

Job Outlook About this section

Bartenders

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Bartenders

18%

Food and beverage serving workers

9%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of bartenders is projected to grow 18 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 105,300 openings for bartenders are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession of 2020.

Population and income growth are expected to result in increased demand for food, drinks, and entertainment. More bartenders are expected to be needed to meet this demand, especially in full-service restaurants and drinking places. Bartenders also will be needed in a wide variety of entertainment venues as services expand.

Employment projections data for bartenders, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Bartenders

35-3011 514,000 606,000 18 92,000 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of bartenders.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Flight attendants Flight Attendants

Flight attendants provide routine services and respond to emergencies to ensure the safety and comfort of airline passengers.

High school diploma or equivalent $61,640
Food and beverage serving and related workers Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers

Food and beverage serving and related workers take and prepare orders, clear tables, and do other tasks associated with providing food and drink to customers.

No formal educational credential $25,980
Food preparation workers Food Preparation Workers

Food preparation workers perform a variety of tasks other than cooking, such as slicing meat and brewing coffee.

No formal educational credential $28,780
Waiters and waitresses Waiters and Waitresses

Waiters and waitresses take orders and serve food and beverages to customers in dining establishments.

No formal educational credential $26,000
Food service managers Food Service Managers

Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants or other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages.

High school diploma or equivalent $59,440
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bartenders,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/bartenders.htm (visited November 17, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Thursday, September 8, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.