How Long Does It Take To Be A Bartender?

how long does it take to be a bartender
Joe | Last Updated: November 24, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

So you’re interested in becoming a bartender but are curious as to how long it will take? Perfect, you’re in the place!

How long does it take to be a bartender” is a popular question that we find many of our readers asking, and it’s one that is important to know the answer to before embarking on your journey to becoming a bartender.

Whilst some careers take many years of education and require lots of qualifications to start, bartending is much easier to get into and doesn’t require much time at all.

Two to four weeks is the average length of time it takes for a person to complete bartending school, with on-the-job bartender training usually lasting for around the same length of time. Most people can expect to be a bartender within 1-month of training.

Let’s take a closer look…

Is Bartending Hard To Learn?

It can take up to ten years to train to be a doctor and seven years to become a lawyer, but you’ll be glad to know that it’s a much quicker process to become a bartender as you would expect.

Bartending is relatively easy to learn and can be picked up quickly by people with little to no experience quickly. It usually takes a beginner bartender between two to four weeks to get the hang of the role, but learning continues for many years.

But the road to becoming a bartender isn’t an easy one. There is lots to learn which is why it’s important to remain humble and patient at the beginning until you get to grips with the role.

how long does it take to be a bartender
Photo by Sherard Campbell

Changing kegs, mixing drinks, stock management, and memorizing cocktails are all part of a bartender’s role.

Once these fundamentals have been learned then it’s time to hone your skills and learn to navigate the bar like a pro.

Bartenders need to be hyper-aware of their surroundings and great communicators, they need to be able to problem-solve on a moment’s notice and work efficiently under pressure, which is where bartenders tend to struggle.

Learning the basics of bartending is relatively easy, but mastering how to manage and run a bar is the real challenge, and this takes a lot longer than a couple of weeks.

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How Long Does It Take To Train For Bartending?

One of the most important questions when deciding to become a bartender is how long will it take.

If you are only planning on becoming a bartender for a short amount of time, it’s unlikely you want to invest months of your own time in training for the role.

Training to be a bartender can be done in a couple of different ways, with the most popular being attending a bartending school or on-the-job training.

Bartending School

In the United States, the laws and requirements are different depending on the state you are in, with some states requiring you to obtain a bartending license and others not.

In California for example, it’s required that bartenders complete 40 hours of curriculum to obtain a bartender license.

This ensures that you are fully compliant with local laws and guidance covering the serving, mixture, sale, or supervision of the sale of alcohol.

When it comes to how long it takes to obtain a bartending license this largely depends on your flexibility and commitment.

Most bartending schools offer classes six days per week, which means if you really want to you could complete the required 40 hours in 1-week, with it typically taking anywhere from two to four weeks for most people to complete.

Once students have completed their 40 hours of the curriculum they will be required to take a written test and practical exam which takes place behind a mock bar.

On-the-job Training

If you do not live and work in a state that has mandatory laws around a bartending license, the next best way to train and become a bartender is through on-the-job training.

This is when you’ve already taken on a bartending role and learn whilst you work, often under the close supervision of a fully-trained bartender who provides guidance and mentorship.

This method is very effective and it’s generally expected that you will complete your training in a matter of weeks.

Training for new bartenders can last anywhere from 1-week to 4-weeks depending on the number of hours the bartender is working behind the bar.

Real-world bartending experience is highly effective and people find that they pick up the tips and tricks that bartenders use very quickly while working a real bar.

Most people learn the skills needed to be a bartender very quickly in this environment but it comes down to the individual as to how quickly they learn and pass their training.

Do Bartenders Need Certification?

A bartending license is a legal necessity in some parts of the world, but in many countries, it is not required at all to work behind a bar.

The laws in the United States vary depending on which state you’re in.

Below are some of the states that require a bartending license to work behind a bar.

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Washington
  • New Mexico
  • Kentucky (not compulsory)
  • Oregon
  • Arizona
  • Hawaii

There are still a lot of states that do not require any mandatory certification to serve alcohol, such as Texas, Florida, Wyoming, and Maine.

In the UK, bartenders are not required to acquire a bartending license, instead, the owner must obtain a premises license so that every sale or supply of alcohol is authorized by a premises license holder.

These laws are similar to most other countries in Europe where the bartender can serve alcohol legally under the owner’s premises license, but some countries may vary so always check beforehand.

What Qualifications Do I Need To Be A Bartender?

The only qualification you’ll need to become a bartender is the bartender’s license which is required by law in some states throughout the United States.

Most bar owners would like to see that you’re literate in English, can speak English, and can read and write.

The qualifications needed to become a bartender are minimal, instead, bar owners are looking for a set of skills that will set you apart from the crowd and indicate that you may be a good hire.

how long does it take to be a bartender
Photo by Kike Salazar N

It takes a certain type of individual to become a successful bartender, therefore, bar owners are looking for relevant skills, experience, and knowledge for this role.

Below are some skills that bar managers look out for when hiring new staff:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Working effectively under pressure
  • Good memory
  • Good stamina
  • Being proactive
  • Somewhat physical
  • Be unique

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this post and now have a clear answer to your question about how long does it take to be a bartender?

Usually, it takes between two and four weeks to complete training as a bartender, whether this is on-the-job training or obtaining your bartender license from a school.

That said, it depends on the number of hours you complete in a week as it’s not uncommon for bartender training to be completed in 1-week as the required curriculum is 40 hours.

Most on-the-job training will be provided for usually 2 weeks and sometimes up to 4 weeks depending on the bar.

By this time, you’ll have completed your training and be a fully trained bartender ready to rock the bar and excel in your bartending career.

Good luck with your bartending career and I will catch you in the next post to learn more about this wonderful profession.

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