Is Bartending A Career? (Insightful Guide)

is bartending a career
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.

Bartending is a profession that has grown significantly in the United States and globally over the past several years.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 644,100 bartenders working in the US in 2018, but this number is forecasted to grow faster than most jobs, rising 8% between 2018 and 2028.

There are a number of reasons for the booming bartender market, one of which is the lifestyle that comes with it. Working a bar is fun and is an incredible way to be social and meet new friends whilst also making money.

Today, we’re going to dive deeper into a topic that often comes up when discussing the role and answer a question many of those looking to get into the industry are wondering. “Is bartending a career?

YES, bartending is a career. In fact, it can be an excellent career choice with lots of opportunities and the potential to earn great money for the right people. That said, most people don’t look at bartending as a career and prefer it as a second or weekend job.

Let’s take a closer look…

Can Bartending Be A Lifelong Career?

Bartending can certainly be a thrilling career if you really want it to be. There is plenty of room for progression in bartending and if you make it to the top can expect to be earning significant money.

Many people find that they have a love and passion for bartending and decide to pursue it as a lifelong career. There is a lot to learn in the industry and plenty of bars, pubs, restaurants, clubs, and other establishments to work in.

is bartending a career
Image by m.wybenga via Flickr

It’s also a relatively stable career choice so long as you are good at the job. It’s high in demand due to the number of businesses requiring bartenders so you’ll never be out of work.

Bartending is a skilled role that can be developed over years of working in the industry, but it’s also great for excelling in your personal life.

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Is Bartending A Good Career?

If you’re willing to sometimes get your hands dirty, learn, develop, and progress as a bartender then it may be the perfect career choice for you.

It’s certainly not for everyone and requires a certain type of individual to be passionate about bartending that they want to make a career out of it.

Whilst it’s true that most people decide to bartend as a side hustle or whilst studying, this often gives people a taste of the role and some decide to continue further down the bartending career path.

Bartending is a great career for those who enjoy meeting new people, love music, can manage stress, and want to develop their personal lives.

You’ll meet new friends, gain excellent social skills, and become much more confident whilst working as a bartender. It also pays surprisingly well if you work in the right establishment.

If you’re early in your career as a bartender you can expect to earn between $25,000 – $30,000 without tips, but once you gain some experience and confidence in the role this can increase to $50,000 – $70,000.

From there if you decide to go into a specialist bartending role such as flair bartending, you can expect to earn six-figure salaries and a HUGE amount of tips.

Not only is bartending a great career, but it’s lucrative for those who are prepared to put the work in and is highly rewarding.

Is Bartending A Fulfilling Career?

If you’re going to work a job for 40+ hours a week it’s important to be happy and fulfilled at work, which is why a surprising amount of people are choosing to bartend as a career.

Bartending is VERY fulfilling. It’s the perfect mix of having fun and working, and whilst it’s not for everyone if you are someone that enjoys music, speaking to people, and a fun lifestyle then I have no doubt bartending will be a great career for you.

People who choose to bartend as a career generally love the work. It becomes part of who they are and they begin to identify as a bartender.

They get stuck in, adopt the lifestyle, and develop into the best bartenders they can be, all whilst earning a handsome amount of money in both salary and tips.

That said, it’s not easy. Bartending can be incredibly difficult at times and will require you to work a lot of evenings and weekends.

This is why many choose to work part-time or on evenings and weekends before they jump two feet into bartending. You’ll also want to reconsider if you’re someone who has a previous history of alcohol addiction.

Being surrounded by alcohol every day may not be the best option for you and the lifestyle could easily sway you back into old habits that can be detrimental to your health.

You’ll need to ensure that you work in the right type of bar if you’re considering this as a career choice. I’ve worked in some terrible bars over the years and I couldn’t think of anything worse than working in them full-time.

Be sure to find a bar that works for you, maybe it’s local to your home, is more classy, and has an older customer base, or perhaps it’s not a bar at all and instead a fancy club or restaurant.

This way you can be sure that you’ll enjoy the working environment and can see yourself working there for a long time. Bartending jobs vary immensely, some are great and some are garbage, so be sure to pick the right one.

The Truth About Bartending As A Career

The bartending lifestyle may look glamorous and extravagant to some, but there’s a darker side that you need to know about before considering this career path.

Earning money, boozing after work, and having the opportunity to sleep with lots of partners may sound like a dream to some, but it comes with risks and downsides as do most careers.

Not only are you entering into a world quite literally surrounded by alcohol, increasing your chances of alcoholism and bad health, but if you’ve got a family you may find this job extremely challenging.

This isn’t to say that you’ll be an alcoholic if you decide to be a bartender, but the chances of you drinking a lot more than you usually would increase.

The hours are unsociable, and you’ll likely not finish work until the early hours of the morning. Expect to work all weekend. Yep… all weekend, most weekends.

The busiest time is a bar is Friday and Saturday nights, which means for your partner and family back home you’ll be at work whilst they are relaxing and doing activities.

For many, this can be the most challenging part of bartending as a career. The hours are unsociable and time away from family just isn’t worth the money for some.

is bartending a career
Photo by ELEVATE

If you struggle with social interactions and are unable to manage stress effectively, you may find bartending incredibly challenging.

You’ll need a be a people person who can deal with members of the public from all walks of life and manage your own stress so that you can battle through the busy weekend shifts.

Expect to get your hands dirty at times. Pulling pints, mixing cocktails, and spilling drinks are all part of the job. You’ll also need to be comfortable with cleaning duties and changing kegs when needed.

These are just a few considerations to take into account before embarking on the bartending journey. But don’t let these discourage you.

I still strongly believe bartending is an EXCELLENT career choice for a lot of people, and they’ll love the bar environment much more than a regular office or factory job.

Final Thoughts

So, is bartending a career? YES, it certainly is. Bartending can be an excellent career choice for those highly social extroverts who enjoy the nightlife.

Whilst it’s not a viable career path for everyone, it’s certainly a great way to earn extra cash and meet new friends whilst making money at the same time.

Bartending as a career is becoming more and more popular in the US, and for good reason. The fun work-life is drawing people in who otherwise would never have thought twice about bartending.

Whilst undoubtedly a demanding job role, it’s a highly lucrative one. Tips often make twice or triple a bartender’s salary which quickly adds up depending on the skills of the individual.

If you are considering bartending as a career, I would advise going part-time or doing some weekend shifts first to ensure that it’s the right option for you.

But if you love music, socializing, and earning good money, I urge you to give it a shot!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I’ll catch you in the next one.

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