The wonderful thing about the career path for bartending is that there's no fixed route. The journey completely depends on the types of bars you want to work in and where you want to progress.
If you’re not sure how to get started, here’s what a typical career path for bartending looks like:
- Apply for Bar Work Anywhere to Get Experience
- Bartending School Is a Great Place to Begin
- Network and Get Known for Your Creativity
- Gain Skills Along the Way
- Decide Where You Want to Progress
Everybody has to start somewhere. If you have no experience in the hospitality industry, then maybe apply for a restaurant role where you might move between the bar and front of house. It could mean collecting glasses or waiting tables, but it’s a step on the right career path.
Your first bartending job doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s just a place to start gaining experience. You might find a way to make shifts easier, like wearing slip-resistant bartender shoes or preparing cocktail syrups beforehand.
Any job where you’re communicating and serving customers will help your future bartending career.
Qualifications and certifications aren’t necessary to have a fulfilling bartender career. However, a good bartending school is a great way to learn everything you need to know in a short amount of time.
The European Bartending School is a four-week course with experienced instructors who have worked in bars all over the world. The course is available in six different languages in major cities like London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Stockholm.
Around 7,000 students graduate from this course each year, taking the skills they’ve learnt to find exciting bar jobs all across the world.
Networking isn't just for corporate events, it’s especially important for people trying to succeed in the hospitality industry.
Bartending is a very social job and you get to know yourself, other bartenders and most importantly - patrons. Connect with everybody in the industry, whether it’s during a bartending course you’re attending or when you’re working.
Many job listings for bartending don’t get advertised and the roles are filled by word-of-mouth. So connecting with everybody who walks into the bar can create future job prospects, friendships and potential referrals.
The greatest way to network is to do your job to a high standard and establish your own creative flair. As a bartender, you’re always looking to do the next best thing. It could be creating your own signature drink or a seasonal menu that really excites your customers. These original ideas are what will get you known in the bartending industry.
You’ll pick up some skills during your career as a bartender. Some are specific to the role but most can be applied anywhere and be valuable for your progression.
- Communication skills for regularly talking to customers.
- Ability to work well in a team.
- Increased memory skills when taking lots of orders.
- Numeracy skills for counting stock and taking payment.
- Organisation skills when talking to customers and making drinks.
- Multitasking and increased efficiency.
- Beer, wine and liquor knowledge.
- Customer service skills and how to deal with complaints.
- Flexibility to do your role anywhere.
- Health and safety knowledge.
Bartending isn't exclusive to bars, there are lots of roles you can work towards. Here are just a few positions you could progress to.
Restaurant & Hotel Bartender
When working as a restaurant or hotel bartender, you’ll be expected to master more than just bar work. You might be the friendly face that returning guests recognise, but you may also have to help other team members clean tables or take food orders, depending on how busy the establishment is.
Mixologists don’t just serve drinks, you’ll design cocktails which complement the style and ambience created by the establishment you’re working in. You may also prepare syrups, garnishes and other ingredients that will be needed throughout the service.
A mixologist will work closely with the bartending team, teaching them how to make their new creation as well as any other skills they’ve learnt.
Brand Sales Representative
Being a brand sales representative means taking control of your future and guaranteeing a long career in the drinks industry. A brand ambassador is a person who represents a bar or in order to increase awareness, create a specific brand image and generate sales opportunities.
General Manager & Owner
You’ll oversee bartenders and mixologists who started out just like you. However, now you have the experience and skills to manage and run your own bar. You get to hire your perfect team and train them. You can also design everything from the menus to the interior, exactly how you’ve always wanted.
Now all that’s left is to enjoy your exciting career ahead. But as rewarding as a bartending career is, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to be successful.
Start Your Career Path With Our Guide to Being a Successful Bartender
To help you progress as a bartender and develop a life-long career, we’ve created a free five-step guide. From dealing with customers to effective teamwork and more, we’ve got it covered.
Get your free copy below.