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what are some duties, hours, working conditions, salary ranges, and fringe benefits of being a bartender?

I have an idea of what they do because of where I work currently but I would like more information on it.

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Alexandra’s Answer

This will definitely vary by location. As, city areas vs suburban areas will likely have drastic costs of living. However, it can be a rewarding side gig. As a career it can also be lucrative if you work special events...maybe on cruise ships. I am also not sure you can put a salary on this as the majority of their pay is likely from tips. However, I agree with the previous comment, maybe focus on hospitality so you can couple a few talents with a usable degree!
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John’s Answer

Hi Sarah,

When the bar is open you are working. Different bars have different hours. But many are open late nights. It might be fun for a while. But eventually it might not be the lifestyle you want. Bar tenders do what you think they do. Make drinks, talk to customers, clean up the bar, and deal with the money. Typically, it's an hourly rate close to minimum wage + tips. Tips vary based on the business of the bar and the clientele it serves. Bartenders working for large hotels might have health insurance and access to other fringe benefits like a 401k. (Ask me what that is if you want to know :-) !

Ask yourself do you want to work nights and weekends for the rest of your life for low to maybe OK pay? If not, then you might want to think bigger. Do you like to hospitality industry? Are you good with people? It can be a good business to be in. People need people to be in that industry. But why stop at bar tender? Why not manager of the bar? Or Manager of the restaurant that has a bar? Or what about manager of the hotel that has the restaurant that has the bar? Or what about regional manager of 10 hotels with restaurants and bars? How about CEO of Marriot Hotels or AirBnB? What if you owned the bar? See where I'm going? You can set your sites a little bit higher and build for yourself a much better lifestyle. You don't have to believe you can be CEO someday. You just have to believe you can go a little bit further. Because you were smart enough to write this question, I believe you can go further.

Let's assume for a second that you don't have a lot of money. But you like the hospitality business and you do think you can go a little further. How would you do it? I'm glad you asked! Well it sounds like you have a job close to a bar already which is a great start. I want to encourage you to save 50% of everything you make. This will greatly help you in life. While working near the bar, make friends with the bar tender. It's easy to do if you offer them a trade. I'll help you clean up for free (called a bar back) and you teach me how to be a bar tender. Almost no one says no to free work.

While you are learning to be a bar tender, stay in school and eventually go to college for hospitality. After you are 21, you'll be promoted to bar tender which I'm guessing will pay a little more than you make now. Again save 50% of everything you make. So now you are tending bar and going to college for hospitality. Now you talk to all the managers in every bar, restaurant and hotel, (If you like AirBnB you could talk to some property managers as well) and tell them you are hoping to get your first manager job. Tell them what you make currently and ask for their help. It's important that you don't ask for a job. Lots of times most times even they won't have a job to give you. BUT they can always help you in some way. They may know someone. Or they may know something that could launch you in the right direction. Most people want to help young people especially when they ask!

Eventually you'll graduate with your degree in hospitality and have a management job in that business. From there you keep trying. Keep asking for help. Eventually you'll find a job that you love, that pays what you need to make.

I know this rant wasn't exactly what you asked. I hope that's OK.

Best of Luck!

-John

John recommends the following next steps:

Make friends with the bar tenders to learn bar tending.
Go to college for Hospitality.
Ask managers for help.
Keep pushing up until you have a job you love for pay you need.
Save 50% of everything you make.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. sarah
Thank you comment icon Most welcome! John Husband
Thank you comment icon This is awesome advice, John! Very comprehensive. Thanks for your great contributions to CareerVillage 😄 Alexandra Carpenter, Admin
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