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Bartending Schools: How Much Do They Cost?

Bartending Schools: How Much Do They Cost? You’ve decided to go to bartending school. You’ve done your homework, and have determined that investing in a bartending school is a reasonable cost to help you land that dream job. Good choice.

Now you have another decision to make: Should I take an online class – or go in person? I’m going to help you make that decision, and walk you through the costs involved with each type of training.

Bartending Schools: Approximate Costs

So, how much does Bartending School cost? Less than $100.00 for most online courses and up to $500.00 for a physical, in-class course. There are exceptions, of course, with cheap online classes for as little as $29.00 and expensive in-class courses that push a grand.

That’s all well and good, but what are bar owners and managers actually looking for? I’ll tell you right now, if they put any weight at all on bartending school training, the majority of them will accept both as alternatives to experience.

One more thing: A few months of working as a barback, even some experience as a food server, may be just as valuable as attending a bartending school.

However, there are many bar managers out there that have gone to bartending school and add some weight to it when comparing you to other applicants.

Which Type of Bartending School Should I Go To?

First of all, both online and in-class bartending schools are very similar. They’re both going to provide you with a list of popular and classic cocktails, show you how to pour liquor, and explain, generally, how a bar is set up.

bartending school green sour cocktail

They’ll also provide you with lists of different brands of alcohol. Maybe even some history. Stuff like “all bourbon is whiskey, but all whiskey is not bourbon,” or “all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.”

Good stuff to know, of course, but not likely to advance your basic physical skills.

Be wary of online classes that offer you the world for a very low price. “Sign up with us for only $29.00 and we’ll guarantee you a job.” Not gonna happen. A reputable online school will cost around $100.00, and will give you some great tips for finding your first job – but won’t guarantee it.

Another benefit is that you’ll be interacting with other classmates, pouring mock drinks, and ‘play acting’ in different bar situations. Good stuff, and the atmosphere gives you a general idea of how the bar ‘flow’ works.

For an in-class type of bartending school, the instruction is going to set you back a few hundred dollars. In my opinion, if you have decided that going to bartender school is the way to go, taking an online Bartending School class is your best option.

Costs For Online Bartending School

There is usually just a one-time cost for online bartending school. Shell out your $100.00, or less, and you get all of the downloadable written materials, access to videos, and probably a certificate of some type.

They may try and sell you some sort of additional manual touting “Advanced Techniques for Finding Your First Job,” or something similar. Personally, if they’re charging for bartending instruction – they should make everything available. They may also charge you for a really nice certificate that they mail to you.

There really are no additional costs. Shop around. Call them or email, and ask specific questions. Make sure you know exactly what’s included. Find out if you can call or email them with any questions that may arise while you’re completing the course.

Some states require some sort of an “Alcohol Server Certification” which is simply a sub-course on the legalities of serving alcohol. You know – checking ID’s, how to handle intoxicated bar patrons, local rules, and serving hours. General legal stuff. See if that’s included, and I’ll discuss this topic later – with more detail.

Costs For In-Class Bartending School

The costs for an in-class type of bartender school are substantially higher than an online course. You’re paying for the instructor, materials, and, of course, part of the rent and utilities on the building/classroom.

It may worth it to obtain your bartending certificate this way. You get the hands-on training and can ask detailed questions as they arise. You’ll actually get behind a “mock” bar and familiarize yourself with the set-up.

The costs vary considerably around the country. The class in Tucson Arizona may be a hundred dollars less than the same one in New York City. Shop around. If you’re paying over a grand for a two-week course – that’s too much.

Some of these schools will charge registration fees. What? Or book fees. Again, in my opinion, if you’re going to charge for the course – make it all-inclusive. Do your homework.

Another advantage of attending an in-class course is that you just might run across an instructor who is very experienced and really knows his stuff. Someone who likes explaining all of those insider tips. And, he or she just may be a working bartender and be aware of job openings in the area. He might be looking closely at the exceptional students.

Most people do not need this type of instruction! What do I mean by this? People that want to be bartenders are generally outgoing, move fast, and learn quickly. There’s no reason to go to an in-house bartending class if you have these characteristics. Take an online course!

Cost For Alcohol Awareness Training

Alcohol Awareness Training is required in many states. It’s a simple class, kind of like a “Food Handler’s” class, that you take to learn about the laws involving alcohol. Most likely the topics will be similar to this:

  • Effects of Alcohol
  • Over-Serving Bar Patrons
  • Hours of Operation
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Checking ID’s
  • Unruly Customers

The above is a short list of topics discussed. This is actually a very informative class, and you’ll learn a lot. You can learn more about alcohol server and seller training here – and find out if your state requires it.

Bartending Schools: How Much Do They Cost?

Costs are usually around $20.00 – $50.00. If you’re taking a bartender school class in a state that requires this certification, make sure it’s an add-on – whether there’s an additional charge or not. Of course, if your state requires this training, there’s always some sort of stand-alone class you can sign up for.

Many bars and restaurants will have someone authorized by the state to come in and give their entire staff the training. Even if you have a prior certificate, your new employer may require you to re-take the training. No big deal.

If you want to learn more about alcohol awareness training, I wrote a very detailed post about why this type of training is required – and a very good idea. Check out my post on alcohol awareness training here.

Final Thoughts On Bartending School Costs

You’ve decided to invest in your future by going to bartending school. Make a decision on where and which type of school to go to. Obviously, if there is not a physical classroom in your area you have no choice but to take the class online – which is my recommendation anyway!

Perform a Google search and see what’s offered in your area. Call them. Ask specific questions. Compare their pricing structure and make an informed decision.

Don’t spend a lot of time on your decision. Remember that most bar owners and managers are looking for experienced bartenders – but many will look at Bartending School as favorable. It is my opinion that getting certified by a bartending school is worth the time and investment – but there’s no substitute for experience.

Related Bartending Searches

Do bartenders make good money? Yes, they do. Of course, it all depends upon what type of bar you’re working at, how many shifts per week, and whether or not the place is high-volume.

Experienced bartenders that have moved up the ladder do really well. I wrote about how much bartenders can make here.

Can the bartending school get me a job? Well, kind of. They can certainly try and help you, but there are no guarantees. The truth is, many bartender schools use the “we’ll guarantee you get a job” sales pitch to get people to enroll. Take that with a grain of salt.

Make no mistake, securing a job relies upon personal appearance, soft skills, and persistence. Spend the $40 – $100 on good online Bartending School!

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