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How to Become a Bartender

Doris Benitez
Reading time: 3 min

Job Basics

Bartenders, also known as bar persons or bar staff, can earn from £12,000 at junior level, to £35,000 at more senior levels, depending on the size of the bar, their experience and the location they’re working in.

Shift work is usual, so you may have a mix of daytime, evening and weekend work.

During busy periods and seasons such as summer or Christmas, many staff work double shifts, to increase their earnings.

What do Bartenders Do?

• Welcome customers
• Serve customers and get their drinks orders ready
• Take cash or card payments
• Keep the bar clean
• Collect empty glasses if required
• Process food orders if there is bar food
• Talk to customers

What Qualities Should a Bartender Have?

You’ll need to be energetic and able to stay calm when the bar is busy. You must be able to add up drink costs and calculate change if the bar doesn’t have a till that does this for you. You need to have a pleasant and sociable manner so that customers feel welcome. You also need to be a night owl – finishing times can be near midnight, later in clubs and hotels. And as you’re working in a small team, the ability to get on with people is vital.

It’s also important to be interested in the different wines, beers, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks sold in the bar. Customers will often ask you to recommend a type of drink. Some specialist cocktail Bartenders are able to mix many different types of drinks, and serve them in the appropriate way.

Bar tending is a sociable job and so you need to be able to talk to people easily. Bartenders develop a good ability to judge people quickly, and this can be helpful in the job.

You need to be aware of the law when it comes to who can buy alcohol. And as you are taking cash, and serving alcohol it’s important to be honest and trustworthy.

How do You Become Qualified?

Many larger pub chains and hotels have apprenticeship schemes. These give you on-the-job training as well as the chance to get some qualifications. Travel and tourism and hospitality qualifications will all be relevant. Bartender is a job where experience is very important but luckily, experience is easy to get. Many pubs need extra staff at weekends or on busy nights. You can also learn a lot by going to a bar and watching the staff, or talking to them about what they do.

As you gain experience, you can progress to becoming a Bar Manager. Large pub chains have good training schemes, and will ensure that you have the right qualifications. They’ll also ensure that you can progress if you want to get on, and have the ability.

In some pubs and bars you’ll need to be 18 but in others, such as some hotel chains, there are jobs for those who are sixteen and over.

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