How do you become a bartender?


Quick Answer

A person can become a bartender by gaining bartending knowledge and experience through on-the-job training or by attending a bartending school. A bartender must be at least 18 years old in most states.

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Full Answer

On-the-job training can be obtained by learning cocktail recipes and gaining knowledge about different wines and beers. Starting out as a barback, or bartender's assistant, provides intensive experience in a short amount of time. A barback helps the bartender by preparing garnishes, stocking liquor and cleaning dishes. Working as a cocktail waitress or waiter provides familiarity with drink recipes and can serve as a steppingstone to a bartending position.

Bartending school offers formal training and teaches not only drink recipes but also the proper glassware for particular drinks, liquor brands and bartending protocol. Most reputable, accredited schools offer 40 hours of coursework.

Some states require a bartending certification before a person can serve drinks to the public. To obtain the certificate, the candidate must pass a test that covers the law regarding serving liquor to minors, blood-alcohol levels, drinking and driving, recognizing intoxication and knowing when to refuse service. Certification requirements vary by locality.

Bartenders must have certain skills and qualities, including good customer-service skills, the ability to work efficiently and effectively during busy periods, good math skills, the ability to work well with people and a clean, neat and professional appearance.

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