The Hangover Effect: Is Bartending A Depressing Job?

is bartending a depressing job
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 job that’s often glamorized in movies, TV shows, and books, it’s portrayed as a cool and exciting job that looks nothing short of incredible.

While it’s true that bartending can be a fun and rewarding career that allows you to connect with people from all walks of life, there are many variables that affect the job and the reality is often much different for bartenders.

So whether you’re an experienced bartender who’s a little down in the dumps, or perhaps a newcomer who’s considering getting into the industry, it’s important to know the answer to; Is bartending a depressing job?

Nobody wants to start a job with the promise of excitement and opportunity only to find themself downright depressed and wanting to quit after a few weeks.

In this post, I’ll share my personal experience as a bartender with a decade of experience that’s worked in many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs around the world.

So let’s get to the bottom of this surprisingly common question.

Is Bartending A Depressing Job?

No, bartending is not a depressing job. In fact, it’s probably one of the most fun jobs out there which is why many people leave their depressing corporate jobs to join the bartending industry.

As a bartender, you’ll get to meet people from all walks of life and interact with customers on a daily basis to meet new friends and develop a sense of community.

It’s a fast-paced, high-energy environment that is hard work at times, but it’s a job that can be filled with excitement and always has you on your toes.

is bartending a depressing job
Photo by Norbert Braun

But not everyone is cut out to be a bartender, and that’s OK. Some people find the job itself boring, mundane, and repetitive so it’s wise to consider what you’re looking for in a job.

Those that are social, extroverted, and love to interact with new people will find this role the exact opposite of depressing.

Whether or not you find a job depressing is going to depend on your perspective and personality type.

For example, if you’re an extrovert that is working in a country bar that has very few customers, you’ll likely be bored and find the job depressing.

Who wouldn’t?

>>Read more: Is bartending stressful?

Why Do Some Bartenders Feel Depressed?

Not everyone is cut out to be a bartender, and the job itself can sometimes feel like it’s getting on top of you at times due to a number of factors.

Firstly, the long and irregular hours can make it difficult to establish any form of routine and can reduce the amount of time you spend with friends and family.

Bartenders often start work in the evening and don’t finish until the early hours of the morning, so finding a good work-life balance can be tricky for some.

The role itself is demanding both physically and mentally, by the end of the shift bartenders are often completely exhausted and ready for bed.

Over time this can lead to bartenders becoming burned out and resenting their job, so it’s important to be aware of this and manage this before it gets out of control.

With bartenders being the first point of contact for the establishment they are often the ones dealing with difficult customers that are rude, aggressive, or demanding.

This can be incredibly draining after a while, and having to deal with drunk customers over and over again can start to take its toll, combined with the fact that bartending can be repetitive.

Bars that have limited drink menus or few customers can make it difficult to feel inspired or motivated at work which can lead to a lack of job satisfaction.

I’ve worked in bars over the years where there have been literally one or two customers per day, and it is AWFUL.

Standing around waiting for customers will not get you out of bed in the morning, which is why the environment and the bar are so important to a bartenders happiness.

is bartending depressing
Photo by Jakob Owens

Another possible reason why some bartenders feel depressed is the lack of development opportunities within their establishment.

Bartenders can sometimes feel trapped in their jobs with no way to progress which can lead to a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction.

Of course, not all bartenders find their job depressing, and most enjoy the creative and social aspects of their role, but during my time as a bartender, I’ve seen bartenders become deflated and lose their spark after a while.

The cure is usually some time away from their role, perhaps an extended holiday or even a pivot in their career.

This allows them to come back with a new perspective, or perhaps they need a new job altogether in a different industry.

Bartending is one of those jobs that looks like a dream from the outside, but once you get in there and experience the work for yourself it can quickly change how you feel about it.

>>Read more: Is bartending fun?

Is Bartending A Boring Job?

No, bartending is not a boring job. It’s a job that is both exciting and challenging, but the bar or establishment the bartender works in plays a HUGE role in whether or not they’ll find it boring.

There is a big difference between working in a lively nightclub that plays great music and is full of customers to work in a rural bar in Kansas that has all of 2 customers per day.

This is where it’s important to consider personality types and preferences as some people prefer to be busy and in a high-energy environment whilst others prefer a quieter work life.

The environment is everything in bartending, if there’s limited interaction with customers, a bland menu, and not much opportunity or room for growth, I think most people would find this boring.

Bartenders may well find their job boring if they work in an environment like this, but all it takes is a change of establishment and they can get their mojo back and start finding the job fun again.

>>Read more: Is bartending considered customer service?

Do Bartenders Get Burned Out?

Yes, bartender burnout is very real and is quite common in the industry. Bartenders regularly work long and exhausting hours that can lead them to become burned out and need some time away from their role.

The demands of bartending can take its toll on a person’s physical and mental health over time, with stress, sleep, and diet all playing a role in becoming burned out.

is bartending a depressing job
Photo by Nick Fewings

Bartenders need to be conscious of this and be proactive in combating burnout, this can be done by establishing a self-care routine and keeping on top of their exercise routine and diet.

Where You Work Matters

If you are a bartender who’s feeling depressed in your job or perhaps you have a friend or family member who is down in the dumps, consider the environment and establishment you work in and if it fits with your personality.

Where you work as a bartender matters. A LOT.

It may not be the role itself that’s causing you to feel depressed but the environment, so it may be time to look at changing jobs to a new bar or establishment.

Oftentimes the bartenders that feel depressed are those working in low-energy bars that don’t have much of an atmosphere.

Therefore, changing the bar you work in can be a game changer for your career, so don’t be afraid to pivot to a new establishment if needed.

>>Read more: Is bartending a real job?

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, no, bartending is not a depression job. However, it certainly can be if the bartender is working in a bar that isn’t suited to their personality type.

Extroverted and highly social bartenders will likely want to work in lively bars where they can interact with customers and express themselves fully.

Whereas those who prefer a quiet environment may want to avoid working in a nightclub or busy bar and opt for a restaurant or quieter bar.

It’s all about finding the right environment for you. Whilst the role of a bartender can be mundane at times, most bartenders love their job and do not find it depressing.

See you in the next one.

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