Is Bartending Good Money? (Insightful Guide)

is bartending good money
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 great gig for those looking to make money, whether that be full-time or as a side hustle/weekend job.

The amount you can make as a bartender varies widely depending on the bar as well as your experience and the size of the business.

Whilst it’s true that the typical bartender’s salary is less than some corporate roles, the difference can be made up in tips which for good bartenders can seriously boost their earnings.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at how much bartenders earn, do bartenders make good tips, and answer a question that makes aspiring bartenders keen to learn the answer to: “Is bartending good money?”

YES, bartending can be GREAT money. Depending on the bar, a bartender’s salary can be doubled or even tripled with tips included. However, this depends largely on the bartender’s location, experience, skills, and ability to connect with customers.

There’s a lot to consider when answering this question, so let’s take a closer look…

Can You Make A Lot Of Money Bartending?

The average bartender in the US makes $16.10 per hour according to Indeed, not including tips. Whilst this amount isn’t going to catapult you out of bed in the morning, it’s the tips that make up the bulk of the pay for most.

The amount of money you can make as a bartender varies and it’s important to be aware of the types of bars you’re interested in applying for.

Small out-of-town bars that have little footfall will not pay as much as a lively big-city bar. Simply because there’s less demand and the workload will be much lighter with fewer customers.

Bartenders certainly can make a lot of money. It’s a booming industry with over 610,000 people currently employed as bartenders and another 15,100 expected to join the profession before 2026.

There are lots of opportunities for growth in this industry and being promoted to senior management is not uncommon for bartenders who show willingness and can get stuck into the role.

Is Being A Bartender Worth It?

In my experience being a bartender is definitely worth it. The opportunities that arise, the people you meet, and the skills you gain are all important factors to take into account before considering being a bartender.

My social skills and ability to network with others went through the roof shortly after taking on a role as a bartender which has paid dividends in my life now.

is bartending good money
Photo by form PxHere

If you’re new to town and are looking for a way to make new friends whilst making cash, bartending will most certainly be worth it for you.

Likewise, if you’re looking for a side hustle whilst studying or simply to earn some extra cash on the side of your full-time job.

It’s not always easy and can be demanding at times. Saturday nights are usually the busiest and you may find yourself not having a break for hours.

But it’s incredibly rewarding. Time really does fly when bartending and at the end of the shift, you’ll have made a nice chunk of tips and had some interesting conversations.

Read more: 9 tips for bartending a private party

Do Bartenders Make Good Tips?

Tips are what make bartending AWESOME. Do a good job and connect with a customer, they may decide to give you a tip for your great service.

These can add up quickly, especially when working a busy bar. It’s not unheard of for bartenders to take home £50 – £100 in tips per night in the UK or $150 per shift in the US in tips.

When factored in on top of your salary it can boost your earnings significantly and give you a sense of achievement and fulfillment that makes work more rewarding.

However, it’s important to establish how tips work in each bar before getting your hopes up. Some bars keep a tip jar and all tips go into the jar and then are divided equally between staff at the end of the night.

This can be great for some, but less lucrative for others. In these types of bars, you’ll find that the excellent bartenders make most of the tips but then are short-changed when the tips are split at the end of the night.

Other bars allow each bartender to keep their own tips, which in my experience has always been the most lucrative and puts the earning potential on the individual.

Want to go above and beyond with every customer and collect as many tips as possible? Great, it’s all going in YOUR pocket at the end of the night and you’ll be glad you did so at the end of the shift.

As mentioned, tips are a VERY important part of a bartender’s role, therefore, it’s important that before accepting a bartender position you establish how they work in each bar.

What Type Of Bartender Makes The Most Money?

Not all bartenders are equal in skills and experience, and neither are their salaries and tips. The more experience and skill a bartender has, typically the more money they make.

Flair bartenders make the most money, pulling an average of $102,000 annually. This number can vary depending on which bar the flair bartender works in and how good they are, as well as the tips they make.

Often these bartenders work with high-class bars to entertain guests by using a variety of bar tools and ingredients to entertain high-profile guests.

That said, regular bartenders can also get into the six-figure earners club by simply providing excellent customer service and being great at their job.

Tips make up a large part of bartending as we have already discussed, therefore, even regular bartenders can rack up some serious cheddar without the fancy skills.

It goes without saying, the more you can entertain and connect with paying customers the more money you’ll likely make.

If you are introverted, not very social, and can’t stand the idea of talking to strangers then you’re probably not going to be a high-earning bartender.

On the contrary, if you’re extroverted, love meeting new people, and can hold a good conversation then you’ll likely be ending your shift with a pocket full of cash.

It goes without saying that female bartenders earn the most when it comes to tips, so keep this in mind before you start handing out CVs.

A young, attractive female can make a FORTUNE working in a busy bar. I’ve seen some of the jaw-dropping tips that women make and it’s really awesome to see.

Men can too, so long as the work is put in and the right approach to bartending is there. It’s a job that isn’t for everything but there’s definitely exciting earning potential to be had.

How Much Do Most Bartenders Make Per Hour?

The average salary for bartenders in the US works out at $16.10 per hour with $150 in tips every day, not too shabby.

The amount a bartender makes per hour varies a lot. Experience, skill, and location all play a big role in how much you’ll get paid.

For example, a bartender in Las Vegas or New York will typically earn more than a bartender in a rundown old bar in Kansas. Sorry, Kansas.

It’s also important to factor in the role you’re considering, as you may be eligible to apply for a more senior position depending on your experience.

is bartending good money
Image: Scott Pham via Flickr

Worked in customer services or sales before? Reach for the stars. It all depends on the bartender’s experience as well as the location of the bar and how business is going.

I’ve worked in popular bars and been paid way more than the average, but I’ve also worked in small-town bars and been paid slightly under average.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a clear answer to “is bartending good money” and have a better understanding of the earning potential for this career choice.

YES, bartending is good money. It certainly can be for the right employees. That said, it’s not for everyone, so don’t expect to be pulling $300 tips if you’re a grumpy chap with little conversation.

Bartenders can expect to make from $16 – $50 per hour as well as $150 in tips each shift, so long as the work is put in with a can-do attitude.

Of course, these numbers vary depending on the city you are in and your experience, but what I’ve set out above is very much average.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Now go get that bartending bread!

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