Revealing The Truth: Is Bartending School Hard?

is bartending school hard
Joe | Last Updated: November 27, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

The bartending industry in the United States and around the globe is thriving, with many people looking to transition out of their boring corporate jobs and get into something more exciting.

Who can blame them?

Those who are looking to get into bar work may find themselves exploring a bartending school to scrub up on their skills and get the required certification for their state.

Bartending school is a great way to learn all the basics of the industry, including mixing and serving drinks, bar management, and serving customers.

But lots of questions arise when considering a bartending school, including the price, how long it takes, and is bartending school hard?

In this article, we’ll explore what it takes to successfully complete bartending school, as well as provide some insights into what you can expect from enrolling.

Is Bartending School Hard?

Whilst defining something as hard is subjective and depends on a number of factors, including the person’s learning style, prior bartending experience, and the program they choose, I didn’t personally see bartending school as hard.

It can certainly be challenging at times due to the amount of information students need to learn, but bartending isn’t exactly rocket science and most people will take to it quite quickly.

Tutors often have decades of experience and are incredibly friendly, so they’ll do their best to ensure students are absorbing the information and are comfortable using what they’ve learned.

Bartending schools cover a range of different topics, so you may find that some are more difficult than others depending on your past experience and learning style.

is bartending school hard
Photo by Loe Moshkovska

For example, it may be more difficult for some students to memorize a large list of cocktail recipes than it is for others, but those with a weaker memory may find it easier to use bar tools like the cocktail shaker.

The good news is that many bartending schools offer a flexible schedule that allows you to learn on your own time and at your own pace.

This means that you can take classes when you’re feeling most energized and are in the zone to learn, and many also offer hands-on training to ensure students are comfortable behind a bar.

It’s an excellent head start when coming into the bartending industry as you’ll feel right at home once you do land your first bartending gig.

The difficulty of bartending school will also be determined by which course you take, as more advanced courses in mixology will be more advanced than a basic course.

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How Hard Is It To Learn Bartending?

It’s actually not hard at all to learn bartending so long as you’re dedicated and can put the time and effort into learning and digesting the information.

There’s a lot to learn at first which naturally takes some time to get to grips with, but over time it becomes much easier to work the bar, whether you’re serving drinks, speaking to customers, or changing a keg.

As with any new skill, there’s a learning curve that everyone has to go through and it may take some people longer than others to master.

There’s a lot of memory involved in bartending, from learning the mechanical process of operations behind the bar to cocktail recipes and more.

Those who have a pretty strong memory and a willingness to learn will likely take the bartending quicker than those without.

Personally, it took me around a month working behind a real bar to feel fully confident behind the bar, but I did attend a bartending school where I learned all the basics and was more confident than a newbie who didn’t attend a school.

is bartending school hard
Photo by Magda Ehlers

That said, the difficulty of learning a new skill varies from person to person, but regardless of how long it takes, if you’re committed you’ll certainly get there.

Don’t be discouraged if you feel your memory isn’t the best or it’s taking time to learn the basics, everyone learns at their own pace so just do your best and keep going.

What Does Bartending School Involve?

The bartending school involves a number of different curriculums that ensure you’re ready for the real thing when the time comes.

Whilst the specific curriculum will vary depending on the school and course you attend, let’s take a look at some of the topics that will likely be covered.


One of the most crucial parts of bartending is mixology and being able to create a range of cocktails and mixed drinks with confidence and efficiency.

This includes learning about flavor profiles, the different types of alcohol, and how to create mixed drinks together to get the desired result.

You’ll also cover the various bar tools such as jiggers, bar blades, mixing glasses, and much more.


Whilst pouring may seem self-explanatory, there are numerous pouring techniques that ensure bartenders can confidently and accurately pour the correct amount of alcohol into each drink.

It’s all about minimizing waste when it comes to pouring, and there are various methods and techniques to use that help bartenders do this.

Bar management

A large part of bartending that is often overlooked is being able to confidently manage the bar, this includes managing stock, changing kegs, and maintaining equipment.

This is vital, especially in quieter bars with not much footfall as the bartender will usually find themselves working the bar alone and must be able to manage it effectively.

Serving customers

Being able to serve customers correctly is a VERY important part of bartending and one that many newcomers struggle with, so bartending school will teach you how to do this correctly.

Having a conversation with customers is the difference between an average bartender and a great one, and those that can smile and have a chat often make a lot more money in tips.

Laws and regulations

Learning the laws and regulations around bartending is super important, especially if you’re planning on traveling whilst working the bar.

The laws around serving alcohol can be different from state to state and country to country, so it’s vital that bartenders learn these and are confident around state and legal laws.

The Benefits Of Attending Bartending School

Attending a bartending school can have numerous benefits that can be advantageous when working in a real bar and also applying for jobs in the industry.

Bar managers love to see that someone has attended bartending school as it shows commitment and gives them the confidence that the candidate knows the basics.

The hands-on experience gained in bartending school is incredibly valuable and means that many students can walk straight into a bartending role with confidence and the skills to succeed in the role.

is bartending school hard
Photo by Antoni Shkraba

Bartending school is also full of networking opportunities, and some schools even offer job placement assistance and will help candidates find a role in the industry.

This can be very beneficial for those who are having a hard time finding a job themselves, as the school often has many connections that can offer a foot in the door to the industry.

As a whole, there are many benefits to bartending school that involve being certified, comprehensive training, as well as help finding a bartending role.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, NO, bartending school is not particularly hard. Whilst it may be challenging at times, most people with the will to succeed will be absolutely fine at bartending school and earn their license with no issues.

Bartending school is designed to get you ready for the industry, even those who have never stepped foot in a bar will be ready to rock once they graduate.

Whilst it may take some people longer than others to pick up the skills needed for bartending, ultimately, it’s a fun learning process that most will get the hang of quickly.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with some clarity into how difficult bartending school is and you’re now ready to take your classes and crush bartending school.

Catch you in the next one!

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