How Can You Become a Bartender?

Bartenders usually complete on-the-job training or bartending courses offered by vocational or technical schools. Most states require bartenders to be at least 18 years of age. Bartenders must have an understanding of state and local laws concerning alcohol sales. Bartenders typically work late-afternoon, evening or early-morning shifts.

Topics covered in bartender training include bar set-up, preparation of cocktails and other drinks, customer service, handling rude patrons and other uncomfortable situations, and state and local alcohol-sales regulations. Bartenders also learn how to take food and drink orders, how to safely handle food and how to use cash registers and other restaurant equipment. On-the-job training and courses offered by vocational or technical schools can take two weeks or longer to complete. Some employers utilize self-study programs or online courses to prepare bartenders. Some bartenders work as servers or dishwashers before learning the skills necessary to prepare a variety of drinks and cocktails for customers. Bartenders may work at multiple restaurants or bars to advance their careers. A positive, friendly attitude, attention to detail and the ability to complete all scheduled shifts may lead to increased earnings and promotions. Depending on experience and ability, bartenders may advance to managing bar or dining-room staff or owning their own bars.