Is Bartending A Real Job? (Honest Answer)

is bartending a real job
Joe | Last Updated: November 23, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

The world of bartending is an interesting one, it’s filled with ups and downs, late nights, long shifts, and a whole lot of hard work.

It’s a demanding job that isn’t for everyone, but people quickly forget how difficult and respectable the role of a bartender really is.

If you’re in the bartending industry then you’ll likely be familiar with awkward questions like “so what is your real job?” and “what are you studying?”

These can be upsetting to bartenders as they may love their job and see themselves working it for the rest of their lives.

Today, we’re going to answer a question that many bartenders have faced during their time in the industry, whether from a friend or family member, we have all come across it at some point in our careers. “Is bartending a real job?

Yes, bartending is a real job. It’s a job that demands skill, hard work, and a lot of theoretical knowledge. Working as a bartender is an exciting career path that comes with endless opportunities, all whilst having fun, so be proud of your work.

Let’s take a closer look…

Is Bartending A Real Job?

The general perception of a ‘real job’ is one that is salaried and provides employment rights such as sick pay, leave entitlement, and has regular full-time working hours.

Real jobs are perceived as jobs that people can rely on and support themselves and their families with, but the meaning may change from person to person.

is bartending a real job
Photo by Artem Pochepetsky on Unsplash

Bartending is certainly a ‘real job’ that fits this description. Most full-time bartending jobs have employment rights and the earning potential is limitless when tips are included.

People all around the world rely on bartending to support themselves and make good money doing so.

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Why Bartending Is A Real Job

The bar and nightclub industry is a booming one. In fact, in the United States alone this industry reached $22.91 billion in 2021, up from $18.63 billion the previous year.

It’s an industry that is thriving and will continue to do so providing people enjoy going out for a social drink on the weekends, as most of us do.

As a bartender, your job is customer service, sales, public relations, quality control, and production all rolled into one, which is why lots of people aren’t cut out for it.

Newcomers find the role difficult and their bartending career is nothing more than a flash in the pan as they quickly realize how demanding and difficult the job is.

It’s not easy to hold a good conversation with customers whilst remembering their cocktail order and making it and the same time, all whilst managing being hyper-aware and ensuring everything is having a great time.

It’s physically and mentally exhausting at times, and the fact that you work weekends and evenings flips a bartender’s lifestyle upside down.

But those that are a good fit for the role shine bright and become successful bartenders.

They look forward to meeting new people every night and thrive in fast-paced environments.

A good bartender can make all the difference to the establishment and turn customers into regulars, ensuring that the business is thriving. They are the lifeblood of the bar.

Bartending is as ‘real job’ as any, and those that think otherwise have likely never worked behind a bar before. I’m a firm believer that anyone who believes bartending isn’t a real job should get behind the bar for a week and then revisit the question.

>>Read more: why are bartenders so rude?

Why Do People Say Bartending Isn’t A Real Job?

There are lots of reasons why some people say bartending isn’t a real job, but the most common is that some people see bartending as a “leisure job”.

Bartending is a job that can be seen as a side job or one that is pushed towards students to take on for extra cash whilst studying.

But it’s worth noting that a large number of students that do get into bartending whilst studying end up pursuing bartending as their career as they enjoy the role so much.

The bartending lifestyle that is advertised in mainstream media is far from the truth, and this can give people the perception that bartending it’s a walk in the park and not a real job.

Media will have you believe that all bartenders are young, out partying every night, and work ridiculously unsociable hours, when this is simply not true

Bartending has become a more respectable career path that lots of people are getting into for a number of reasons.

The truth is, the profession hasn’t been represented fairly in mainstream media or online for decades and this gives people the idea that the role isn’t a ‘real job’.

Is Bartending A Leisure Job?

Bartending can be a leisure job if that’s what you want it to be. Working hours are flexible and there are tons of part-time roles available all over the world.

Some people even bartend as a weekend or side job to earn extra cash on top of their main career and there is nothing wrong with that.

The flexibility of bartending is what makes the job so appealing to many. There’s a low barrier to entry and those with experience in customer service or retail are in good standing for a bartender job.

That said, whilst bartending can certainly be a leisure job it can also be a full-time career too. In fact, I’ve known many people who start out bartending to earn some extra cash only to quit their main job and become full-time bartenders.

It’s happening more and more in recent times as people are looking for jobs that excite them and want to escape the “rat race”.

>>Read more: Is bartending dangerous?

Can Bartending Be a Lifelong Career?

Yes, bartending can certainly be a lifelong career. There are lots of people who have made a career from bartending, and it’s a fulfilling and lucrative one for those that succeed.

The role required a certain type of individual to be good at it, but those that find they enjoy working the bar develop their skills quickly and can rise to the top.

is bartending a real job
Photo by Enis Yavuz on Unsplash

A skilled bartender is a highly sought-after individual. There are bars, nightclubs, and restaurants all over the world looking for exceptional bartenders which means those that become good at the role are usually never out of work.

This gives them the flexibility to travel which is exactly what I did. I’ve worked in bars in Australia, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and other countries due to having strong bartending experience on my resume.

If you want to make bartending a lifelong career there is nothing stopping you.

>> Read more: Bartending part-time: everything you need to know

Final Thoughts

Whilst reading this post will not stop people from asking you “is bartending a real job“, I hope that it has solidified your knowledge in knowing that it absolutely is!

Bartending is a real job that provides for people and families all around the world and will continue to do so as long as the world needs people to serve and entertain them.

Working as a bartender is much more than simply serving drinks. It’s about being a master communicator, problem solver, and exceptional multi-tasker.

Like most jobs, people choose to get into bartending for a short while and treat it as a leisure job, and that’s OK. Others bartend out of a passion for service and make a career from it.

Always be courteous when asking people about their career choices and have pride and confidence in the fact that you are a bartender.

See you in the next one.