Price Breakdown: How Much Does Bartending School Cost?

how much does bartending school cost
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’ve decided you want to get into the bartending industry and hear that attending a school is the best way to receive formal training and certification, but how much does bartending school cost?

Before embarking on this journey, it’s important to understand all costs associated with bartending school as well as the factors that influence it.

This way you’ll be prepared for any hidden expenses that may crop up, including textbooks, travel expenses, and other fees.

Whilst it’s true that bartending school is an excellent way to fast-track the learning process, it can be quite costly depending on the school and curriculum.

That’s why in this post, we’re going to provide a full price breakdown of bartending schools and provide insights into how to choose the right school for your goals and budget.

How Much Does Bartending School Cost?

In the United States, most bartending schools offer courses that take forty hours to complete and cost between $200 – $600 depending on the school, course, and state.

But some bartending schools can cost as much as $1000 – $1500, and if you’re looking at specializing in a specific area of bartending, such as flair bartending, this price can increase further.

For a regular course, the cost covers tuition, books, registration, and other materials associated with the course and ensures you’ll be certified and ready to work behind a bar once you graduate.


Bartending school curriculums vary but most cover how to open and set up a bar, the best ways to create, mix, and serve drinks, as well as laws and regulations surrounding alcohol and much more.

how much does bartending school cost
Image by Titan Kaizen

Courses are comprehensive and are often split up into ten classes that are each four hours long, with some offering online tuition and flexible schedules.

Online bartending classes can cost between $80 and $150, but these are often a series of videos with an instructor teaching students as opposed to real-life training.

In my experience, if you’re keen to learn bartending then it’s always best to attend an in-person class if you can, but if you’re just looking to receive certification then an online course may suffice.

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Factors That Influence The Price Of Bartending School

The cost of education varies drastically around the world, and just like traditional schools, there are a number of factors that influence the quality and price of bartending schools.


The geographical location of bartending schools can have a BIG impact on the price, with schools that are situated in big cities or high-end areas charging a premium for their tuition fees.

Depending on your state or country, the price of attending bartending school can vary greatly, for example, tuition prices in New York City are higher than prices in Atlanta.

It’s wise to check the prices of schools in different areas as it may benefit you traveling out of state to receive certification.

School Reputation

Not all bartending schools are created equal, those that have a reputation in the industry for being top-class and have been established for a long time will be more expensive than others that do not.

Having certification from one of these schools can be worth its weight in gold, as employers may recognize the school which can lead to more opportunities within the industry.


Most bartending schools have numerous courses and curriculums to choose from, starting from basic foundational curriculum to more specialized and advanced curriculums.

As you might expect, the more advanced the education the more costly it will be.

One reason for this is the tutor’s time is more valuable and the level of education provided is worth more than that of a basic curriculum, so naturally, it commands a higher price.


Some bartending schools offer high-quality facilities such as a fully functioning bar to practice in as well as top-quality bar tools and training equipment.

This allows the training experience to simulate what it would be like working in a real bar which can help students learn the ins and outs of bartending very quickly.

However, this comes at a premium and allows the school to charge more for this level of education.

>> Read more: 15 helpful tips for new bartenders

Is Bartending School Worth The Cost?

If you’re completely new to the world of bartending and have no prior experience in the industry, attending bartending school will definitely be worth it for you.

It will give you the skills and training you need to be able to land your first bartending role and will set you apart from other candidates.

However, if your budget is tight and you would prefer not to spend the money, there are other ways to gain bartending experience without attending a school, which we’ll discuss shortly.

how much does bartending school cost
Image by Nathan Meijer

If you already have some experience in the bartending industry, then bartending school may not be worth it for you if your goal is to secure another job, but it will certainly increase your chances.

Having certification from bartending school on your CV will help you in many ways, from setting you apart from other candidates to showing employers that you’re committed to the industry.

But whether or not bartending school is going to be worth it for you ultimately depends on your budget, prior experience, as well as your career goals.

Is Bartending School Necessary?

No, bartending school is not necessary to become a successful bartender, but if you have no prior experience in the industry it’s certainly a great way to start your career.

Most establishments will require bartenders to have some experience before they are hired, which is why bartending school can give you the upper hand when it comes to finding a role in the industry.

Bartending schools serve as an excellent foundation for finding a job as their curriculum covers mixing drinks, serving customers, laws and regulations, and lots more.

This shows the employer that you already have knowledge and training in these areas which can give you an advantage when applying for roles.

If you already have experience working in the industry, attending bartending school often won’t be necessary, however, if you’re looking to progress into a management position or take your career further it’s definitely worth it.

There are many courses you can take at bartending school, and the more qualifications you have on your CV, the more likely it is you’ll be able to take your career to new heights.

Can I Learn Bartending A Cheaper Way?

Bartending school is a GREAT way to learn to bartend, but it’s certainly not essential and there are many other ways to learn the tricks of this trade.

So what else can you do?

One of the best ways to learn bartending without paying for bartending school is to work as a barback for some time before pursuing a bartending position.

Barbacks are the lifeline behind any successful bar and are the perfect stepping stone to becoming a bartender and learning everything about working a bar.

Many successful bartenders started their careers as barbacks, it’s a great way to earn money whilst also learning the industry.

Another effective way is to practice bartending at home when with your family or friends, invest in some bar tools such as a cocktail shaker, jigger, and some liquor, and practice making cocktails.

This will give you confidence in creating cocktails, mixing drinks, and using bar tools so that when the time comes to do it behind a bar, you’re confident and ready.

If you’re really looking to learn to bartend but don’t want the expense of paying for a bartending school, speak with your local bar or restaurant and ask if you can volunteer or help out at all.

Most bars will appreciate the helping hand and you never know… you may even end up getting a job out of it.

As you can see, there are numerous ways to learn to bartend without attending a school, and whilst schools are amazing and give you certification, it’s not the only way.

Other Considerations

There’s no denying that bartending school is an AMAZING way to learn the basics or more advanced side to bartending depending on the curriculum, but keep in mind that it’s still only training and not the real experience.

In my opinion, nothing is more valuable than working in a real bar and getting to grips with how it operates and functions, and you could never gain this experience in a bartending school.

Whilst some schools do an excellent job at simulating real-world experience, the intricacies of serving real customers and solving problems are something that can only be achieved on the job.

This is why the value of working as a barback or volunteering in a bar for a few nights can’t be understated as you’ll get to feel the pulse of the bar and how it operates.

how much does bartending school cost
Image by John Donges

Experience is everything in the hospitality industry, and whilst certifications show that you can do the job on paper, having real experience shows that you do it in person too, which is arguably more valuable.

Lots of people can become certified through bartending school, but those that aren’t cut out for it may crumble in a working bar environment.

Working temporarily or volunteering will also give you insight into what it’s actually like being a bartender, so you’ll know definitively if it’s something you want to do or not.

I don’t say this to put you off bartending school but to highlight the value of a genuine bar experience.

Wrapping Up

In closing, most bartending schools in the US cost between $200 – $600, but this price can creep up to $1000 – $1500 depending on your state, the course, and the curriculum.

This will see you learn all of the basics and be confident and ready to work behind a bar, perfect for those looking to get into the industry.

If you’re looking for a more specialized course where you’ll learn a more advanced curriculum, the price can be anywhere from $1000 – $2000.

These courses can help existing bartenders take their careers to the next level and help in securing specialized bartending roles or positions in high-end establishments.

You can see that the price of bartending school varies, but most will pay around $500 to become certified and learn the basics of bartending.

Good luck in your course, whichever you choose and I wish you all the best in your bartending career.

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