The Raw Truth: Pros And Cons Of Bartending

pros and cons of bartending
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 been around for centuries and has become increasingly popular in recent years with more people looking to escape their mundane nine-to-five.

It’s a job that requires a unique set of skills, including the ability to multi-task, work in a fast-paced environment, and be able to whip up delicious cocktails.

But is bartending really all fun and games? As with any job, there are pros and cons of bartending that are important to consider before getting into the industry.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the perks and drawbacks of bartending to help you decide whether it’s worth making the switch.

So if you’re considering a career in bartending or simply curious about what it takes to be one, by the end of this post you’ll know much more about this profession.

Pros Of Bartending

If you’re considering becoming a bartender, knowing the pros and cons of bartending can help you before you make an informed decision as to whether it’s the right job for you.

Leaving a job can be scary, but switching industries to one that you have little to no experience in can be daunting for anyone, so it’s wise to know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand.

pros and cons of bartending
Photo by Jon Handley

I can tell you from a decade of experience, It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but there are benefits to being a bartender that you won’t find in any other career.

Let’s first take a look at the pros of bartending;

Fun & exciting career

Bartending is a fun and exciting career that has lots of opportunities for social interaction, allows for creative expression, and offers a lively environment.

Each bar is different so you can choose the type you most prefer, for example, if you’re a music lover you may be best suited to working in a nightclub, or if you prefer a more chill and classy vibe, then an uptown cocktail bar may be more your thing.

If you’re someone who is highly social and loves interacting with new people every day, then you’ll love bartending.

There are endless customers to speak to and engage with, so it’s great for those extroverted fun lovers who want something different from their job.


One of the great things about bartending is that you’ll often have your days completely free, which is perfect for students or those looking for a second income.

Bartending shifts are often on nights and weekends, so it allows you to have lots of flexibility within the role and can be great to fit around family life.

You’ll earn tips

The role of a bartender can be a lucrative one, especially for those that have the social and multi-tasking skills to chat with customers and create drinks at the same time.

Whilst bartenders often earn close to minimum wage, depending on the state you’re in, the tips earned as a bartender can increase your overall income significantly.

The average nightly tip earnings for a bartender in the US (depending on the bar) is around $150, but this will vary on a number of factors such as your skills, the night, the establishment, and the tipping policy.

It’s not uncommon for skilled bartenders to earn MUCH more than this during some shifts, often doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling their earnings from tips alone.

Skill development

The new skills learned and existing skills developed are a great part of bartending that is often overlooked, from learning to shake the perfect martini to becoming a social chameleon, the skill development in bartending is huge.

Bartending can turn timid and shy people into confident communicators, it really brings out the best in people over a short period of time.

If you want to give yourself a challenge or develop your social skills, getting into bartending may be the best thing you can do.

You’ll stay active

Bartending is no walk in the park, in fact, it’s INCREDIBLY active and the calories burned in bartending can be jaw-dropping, especially during busy shifts.

Between serving customers you may be making stops to the cellar to grab more stock, putting away deliveries, or helping other staff members.

pros and cons of bartending
Photo by Andrey Grodz

There is rarely a moment where you’ll sit down as a bartender, so if you’re looking to stay active and keep in shape then it could be great for you.

Travel opportunities

Bartending is a skilled profession that is recognized worldwide, which is why many bartenders decide to travel the world and work along the way.

Those with some experience can often find bartending work anywhere they go, so it’s perfect for travelers that want to explore the world but earn at the same time.

I did this personally and found that working as a bartender while traveling was one of the best experiences of my life.

High demand

There are bars, nightclubs, and restaurants all over the world, literally everywhere, and many are always on the lookout for new staff.

The staff turnover in the bartending industry is quite high, but this provides opportunities for newcomers and those who have the experience to find a new job.

There is a low barrier of entry to the industry too, and so long as you have a certain skill set and the right attitude it won’t take long for you to find a bartending job.

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Cons Of Bartending

Now let’s look at some of the cons of bartending:

Hard work

Bartending is incredibly hard work and requires you to give your all every single shift, it’s not for the faint-hearted or those looking for an easy ride.

Every bartender has to pull their weight to keep the bar running smoothly, and at times this may mean postponing your break time to get through a busy period or knuckling down through your lunch break.

After work is finished, you’ll likely be exhausted and ready to hit the sheets.

Late nights

Whilst having the days to yourself is great, as a bartender you’ll often work late into the night and not get home until the early hours of the morning.

It’s a lifestyle that takes a lot of getting used to and it can be hard to establish a routine.

Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest in the bartending industry, but they’re also the most lucrative when it comes to earnings tips.

pros and cons of bartending
Photo by Licor Beirão

However, this can mean that the weekends with family become interrupted as you’ll be working late into the night and tired most of the time.

Physically demanding

It’s great that bartending is an active job that keeps you on your toes, but it’s also physically demanding and can put a lot of strain on your body.

Heavy lifting and low bending are both common in bartending, and this can involve anything from changing kegs to taking out the trash.

It’s a demanding job that takes its toll on your body, so it’s important to keep this in mind if you’re not a particularly active person or have health concerns.


I won’t deny it, I’ve turned grey early because of bartending and found myself struggling to sleep at times due to the stress.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway, perhaps it’s old age.

Dealing with difficult situations is common as a bartender and you’ll have to be a quick thinker and effective problem solver to avoid stress.

If you’re someone with a relatively high-stress tolerance then you may find these circumstances a breeze, but some people struggle with stress, so it’s important to be aware that the role can be high-stress at times.

>>Read more: why do bartenders always polish glasses?

Is It Worth It To Learn Bartending?

Yes, in my opinion, it is absolutely worth it to learn bartending. It’s a job that is like no other and whilst it does have its drawbacks, it’s full of exciting perks too.

I always struggled with working in an office and found myself bored and unengaged, almost immediately after I made the switch to bartending I knew that this role was everything I needed.

The fast pace and social aspects of the role are amazing, sometimes I’ll be deep into a shift and completely forget that I’m at work.

It’s a career that pays based on your level of skill too, with the most advanced and social bartenders earning much more in tips than those that are not as social.

>>Read more: Is bartending a depressing job?

Other Bartending Considerations

The truth is, bartending is a fantastic profession that has lots to offer, but it’s certainly not for everyone.

Some people struggle with the late nights whilst others have a hard time keeping up with the physical demands of the role.

Whilst it can look like fun and games, it’s REALLY hard work and takes a certain type of person to be successful as a bartender.

pros and cons of bartending
Photo by Ivan Cortez

The role is perfect for those who are looking for a second job to earn extra income or students who want to experience the lively atmosphere and meet new people, but if you have a young family it may not be the role for you.

Keep in mind your personal circumstances and your personality type before considering becoming a bartender, as these will both impact your success and how much you’ll enjoy the role.

Wrapping Up

Bartending can be a fulfilling and exciting career for those who enjoy meeting new people, in fast-paced environments, and learning new skills.

Whilst it’s certainly not for everyone, in my eyes, it far beats working in a boring office job that you dread every single day.

Bartenders often enjoy going to work, every shift is different and they’ll meet new people and opportunities along the way.

Ultimately, there are many pros and cons of bartending, but I hope this post has provided you with insights into the life of a bartender and helped you decide whether it’s the right career move for you.

Catch you in the next one!

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