This is the only lesson in this Section. After this – you’re done. Congratulations!
You’ve made it. You have your first bartending job. You’re working full time at a good restaurant and/or bar, and starting to haul in some decent cash. Now what?
Chances are, your first bartending job isn’t what you would call the “perfect bartending job.” No, you grabbed the first job available in order to gain some experience – as you should have.
You have made it through your first 30 days as a bartender (discussed in the previous section), and now it’s now time to start thinking about your future as a bartender – and how you can “up” your game.
This is a short section/lesson. I just want to remind you of how you have made a great decision in learning how to be a bartender. The possibilities really are endless.
If you went entirely through Section One, the Introduction to the course, you know my story. And, if you read my resume and “Bartending Story,” you are familiar with how I used the bartending profession to further my career.
If I had to do it all over again…
Well, hopefully you have read “Mark’s Resume” and “Mark’s Career Bartending Story.” If not, they’re located in Section 20 – Resources. Really, the only thing I would change is to grow up a little quicker instead of being a “party-boy surfer” in my earlier years.
And then I think – No, those were some great times!
I had no idea I was to become a bartender. And when it happened, I kind of took if for granted. I didn’t realize, at the time, how it was providing me with everything I needed during my earlier years. And even later years.
For me, the greatest thing about bartending is that it allowed me to pursue other interests. I did become more responsible and finally got my bachelor’s degree in business. I started a new business. And then another one. And then another one. They are all small businesses, but successful, and provide me with a good life. And I owe it all to being able to always find a job bartending.
I’m pretty well set in my life now, and I truly am grateful for all of those years behind the bar. My hope is that you will be, too.
Now it’s time for you to figure out how to use your bartending skills to accomplish your life goals. Below are some options. As you’ll see, there are many ways you can use bartending to pay the bills, pursue your education, or simply get into that perfect bartender position you have always wanted and make a career of it.
This lesson is similar to the lessons in Section One of the course – with some added material. I just want to remind you of how learning how to be a bartender can help you accomplish your life/career goals. Let me show you some possibilities:
Can You Make a Living as a Bartender?
You sure can. I have always made a comfortable living as a bartender. Or as a manger or bar manager. Of course, in my early years I was more concerned with the “scene” and partying, but my priorities changed. I always seemed to have plenty of money – no matter how irresponsible I was!
Whenever I needed a job – bartending was there. Whenever I moved – bartending was there. When I decided to go back to school – bartending was there. When I struggled to start my first business – bartending was there. When I simply wanted to take a break from all of that “extra” stuff – bartending was there.
Getting that “Dream” Bartending Job
Keep applying for bartending jobs. Move up the ladder. Continue visiting bars in your area and speak with the bartenders. And for goodness sakes – get yourself hired at a busy place! And don’t forget the benefits of working part-time at two different places.
As I have mentioned many times throughout the course, your first bartending job will probably not be your “dream job.” I was lucky in that my first bartending job was pretty good – but nothing special. The money wasn’t that great, the bosses were just “OK,” and I knew there was something better.
And then something really neat happened. I now had bartending experience. Once I had a little experience, those job interviews were easy. All I had to do was be myself and answer the interview questions honestly.
I started getting almost every bartending job I applied for. Not all of them, of course, but the great majority. Bar Owners were constantly offering me jobs. My fellow bartenders (and other employees of whatever bar or hotel I was working at), offered me jobs at the other places they worked.
And, yes, I was a “top-of-the-line bartender.” This is about the only place in my course where I’ll admit to that. Am I the best? Of course not! Guess what – there are a lot of truly exceptional bartenders out there. I know, because I worked with many of them. There’s always someone better.
The point is, YOU can become an exceptional bartender and get any job you want – whenever you want. Count on it. Learn your craft, show up for work on time, and concentrate on providing a great customer experience and you can write your own ticket. I know – because I’ve been there. And I’ve watched a great number of bartenders “write their own ticket.”
Is Bartending a Great “Side Hustle?”
I’m not a big fan of the term “side hustle,” but I guess it has its place. A side hustle is simply a way to make extra money. At least that’s how I understand it. But, is it a “hustle?”
I don’t think so. It’s a job. Sure, you can combine some banquet bartending here and there on weekends with your regular bartending job. Or another regular bartending gig. That’s not a side hustle – that’s an extra job to help you make money and pay the bills – or pad the 401k.
However you wish to look at the bartending profession – it’s a great way to make extra money. And, jobs will always be available. Remember, once you get just a little bit of experience – you have a very good chance of landing any bartending job you wish.
Side Note: Even after completing my entire bartending course here, I know that some of you will still believe that it’s entirely too hard to get a bartending job with no experience. That’s OK. I hope that, throughout the course, I have convinced you that you can – but it is what it is.
For those of you who still have doubts, I have listed again the jobs that you can get in order to get your foot in the door. From there, it’s much easier to land that first bartending job. We discussed this in Section 15, Lesson 3, but it bears repeating here:
Springboard Hospitality Jobs
Below is a list of restaurant/bar/hotel/event types of positions you may wish to take to get your foot in the door:
- Food Server
- Cocktail Server
- Prep Cook
- Anything in “Banquets”
- Room Attendant
- Valet (Parking)
- Horseperson (sets everything up for a banquet/event)
- Front Desk Agent
- Reservations Agent
- Bell Attendant
- Pool Server
- Maintenance Person
- Janitorial/Custodial Person
- Front Office Employee (Almost any position)
You may not have thought of many of these positions. Once you get your foot in the door, management has the opportunity to observe your work habits. Believe me – they’ll bend over backwards to keep their exceptional employees. And YOU are an exceptional employee!
Remember – it’s always MUCH easier to get a bartending job if you’re already employed in the Food & Beverage Industry! And, I know many people that have two different job classifications at one place – very common in banquet bartending.
What Kind of Bar Can I Make the Most Money At?
I get a little tired of hearing people say that the best money is in nightclubs. It’s not. At least not all of the time. As you progress through your bartending career, you’re going to be surprised at the types of places where you can make some really great cash
There are some downsides to working at nightclubs. The noise. Pretentious customers. Drugs. Again, you’ll figure all of this out as you progress through your career. Choose wisely!
Personally, I have left higher-paying bartending jobs to take a job that was much more my “style.” Why would you work in a place where you’re miserable? Again, being an exceptional bartender will allow you to work in that “dream job.”
What About Bar Management?
You just might like the Food & Beverage Industry enough to want to make it a career. What about management? Like bartenders, many places hire from within for management positions.
If you’re one of those types of people that excel at whatever you do – management is going to come to you and ask if you would like to step up to management. It always happens.
Personally, I went back and forth between bartending and management. Many times reluctantly. The choice is yours, of course.
Should I Do Some Banquet Bartending?
Absolutely. As I mentioned above in the “side hustle” thing, banquet bartending (Section 14 of this course), is a great way to supplement your income.
Many times, I would work as a food server at a hotel during lunchtime banquets. 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. 4 hours, $80 – $100. Easy, and I highly recommend it.
Getting a job as a banquet food server is easy, and I would many times apply at the very closest hotels. Walking distance sometimes. Shifts are usually short, and the extra cash always comes in handy. Bartending shifts are almost as easy to get.
Bartending at Two (or more) Bars at Once
Absolutely. If you have the time and there are no scheduling conflicts – go for it! It breaks up the monotony, and you have a bit of a “hedge” in case something goes sideways at one of those jobs.
I almost always had two different bartending jobs at once. As my career progressed, I found that this is what I preferred the most. Of course, many of you might land that really good job 40 hours a week with $2 – 3 hundred dollars in tips per shift. Nice – so stick with what you like.
Logistics: Moving Close to Your Bar
I mentioned above that I would apply at bars and restaurants (and hotels), that were close by to where I lived. There are huge advantages to this:
- No maddening traffic problems
- Have you seen the price of gas lately?
- It’s a time-saver. Five minutes walking (or biking) distance
- Your boss will love you – you can get to work quickly to cover a shift
- A little bit of exercise! Walk/run or bicycle to work
- Less stress trying to get to work on time
- Less exposure to pollution
- Reduce your carbon footprint
- More time for yourself – improve your quality of life
The above are just some of the advantages of being a bartender. The possibilities really are endless.
The next section , Bar Terms and Slang, is something you can read a couple of times and master. In fact, by going through the entire course you probably know most of these terms by now. Now it’s time to take some action and get out there and apply!
I know that many of you might have read through the entire course before starting to take action. That’s good, and I really do think that it’s the best way to get your bearings and get an overall picture of what this course is all about. Now it’s time for action.
Now, it’s time to go back to Sections 15 & 16 – “Job Preparation” and the “Bartender Interview Tips and Techniques” and really hit the ground running.