Barback Wages: How Much Do Barbacks Make?

how much do barbacks make
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.

Barbacks are the support system behind many successful bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, often working behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Among other duties, barbacks work alongside bartenders to keep the bar clean, stocked, and organized which allows the bartenders to focus on what they do best, serving customers.

But how much do barbacks make? Is it a lucrative position worthwhile pursuing or are barbacks earning pocket change?

Whether you’re considering applying for a barback position or are simply curious as to how much they make, by the end of this post you’ll know everything there is about barback wages and how much they earn.

So let’s take a closer look at the wages of barbacks…

How Much Do Barbacks Make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average hourly pay for a barback in the United States is $12.65/hour, and whilst they are finding salaries as low as $5.29/hour in some areas, in others it can be as high as $21.15/hour.

This works out at a yearly salary of $25,300 if the barback works 40 hours per week and works 50 weeks per year.

There are a number of factors that can impact the pay of a barback, including their geographical location, the establishment they work in, as well as their experience.

how much do barbacks make
Image by Steven Miller

Barbacks working in fast-paced, high-end bars or restaurants will often earn more than barbacks working in rural bars with few customers.

In the US, most barbacks earn just about the national minimum wage which is $7.25/hour, but they do have the opportunity to earn additional income through tips.

The amount of tips a barback can make varies greatly depending on the establishment and its tipping policy, but it’s often a nice bonus on top of their salary.

Do Barbacks Get Paid Well?

The barback position is an entry-level position that is sometimes used as a stepping stone for the person to learn the ropes before starting their career as a bartender.

Whilst they play a vital role in supporting staff, their wages are often lower and they don’t earn as much money as other positions in the hospitality industry.

That said, tips are often a large part of a barback’s wages, so depending on the establishment they work in they can get paid very well and earn great money through tips.

I’ve heard of barbacks in Las Vegas taking home $500 – $750 per night in tips alone, but again, it’s all about location and the establishment.

Most barbacks in the US do not earn anywhere close to this in tips and their salary is usually not as high as bartenders.

When trying to determine if a barback position is going to pay well, it’s important to keep in mind how busy the establishment is, its location, and the tipping policy.

The barback salary is generally quite low when compared to other roles in the industry, but it may well be made up elsewhere in tips or other incentives.

>>Read more: How much do bartenders in Las Vegas make?

Is A Barback A Good Job?

Whether or not a barback is a “good job” depends on your perspective, but if you’re looking for a role that is both rewarding and a great way to earn experience, it certainly is.

If it’s solely money you’re looking for, then there’s no doubt you could earn more money in other roles that are less demanding, but it’s all about the individual’s preferences.

The barback position is all about teamwork and working in a fast-paced environment while under pressure, so if you’re someone who thrives in that type of environment then you’ll likely enjoy working as a barback.

It’s a rewarding role that can be incredibly fulfilling especially when working with a close-knit team that all pull their weight and contribute to the success of the shift.

It’s hard work and you’ll be on your feet for the whole shift, but if you find job satisfaction from working in fast-paced environments then it could be perfect for you.

The experience gained as a barback is incredibly valuable, especially in the bartending industry. You’ll learn how the bar operates, how to use bar tools, as well as how to manage the bar.

This looks awesome on your CV when applying for roles within the industry as barback experience clearly shows that you know the ins and outs of working a bar.

Do Barbacks Get Tips?

Barbacks do not receive tips directly from customers as they work behind the scenes, BUT, they may well receive a share of the tips from bartenders or as part of the establishment tipping policy.

Bartender Tip Calculator

Recommended Tip

Total Bill

It’s becoming common for bars and restaurants to have a policy that splits the tips equally between all staff on shift as opposed to the bartenders keeping all the tips.

Many bartenders will split their tips with barbacks as a way to show appreciation and acknowledge their hard work in ensuring the bar operation was smooth, but not all do, so it’s important to check policies.

how much do barbacks make
Image by Dave Pinter

Some bartenders may have a specific percentage split that they share with barbacks, for example, perhaps they split their tips 60/40.

Tipping practices can differ widely depending on the establishment, but in most cases, barbacks do receive tips and they can make up a large portion of their take-home pay.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, the earning potential of barbacks varies greatly depending on a number of factors, but most can expect an hourly rate of around $13/hour and to earn some tips.

It’s difficult to say how much a barback will make as some who work in high-end nightclubs may earn WAY more than barbacks working in a rural bar in Kentucky.

Keep in mind that it’s an entry-level position, so if you’re looking to earn big bucks then being a barback may not be the role for you.

That said, if you’re someone who’s looking to break into the bartending industry and gain experience, it’s perfect and can provide a stepping stone to launch you into a successful career in the hospitality industry.

Remember, before applying to a barback position keep in mind the tipping policy, how busy the establishment is, and your career goals.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with all the insights you need on how much barbacks earn.

Catch you in the next one.

Get Certified🍸

Take your mixology game to the next level! With this advanced mixology course, you’ll learn not just to follow recipes, but to create them.

HD Videos

Cheat Sheets

Earn Your Certificate