How to Become a Bartender – The Ultimate Guide

Become a bartender, make great money, travel the world, live the dream!

Chapter 1 – Introducing the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Bartender

Most bartenders agree with me, breaking into the industry and becoming a bartender is one of the most (if not the most!) difficult and frustrating aspects of bartending.

I hear these frustrations all the time:

  • How do I get a bartending job with no experience?
  • Should I go to bartending school?
  • What’s a barback? And what are my alternatives??
  • How do I even go about looking for bartending work? Should I apply for jobs online? Or should I go into bars directly with my resume?

These are all valid questions. And believe me, I understand your frustrations!

There is so much conflicting information out there that it can be difficult to figure out the good from the bad. Especially when you’re new to the industry.

But rest assured, every working bartender out there once found themselves in exactly the same position you find yourself in today. So yes, it is possible to become a bartender!

And that’s what this guide is about.

Who This Guide is For

If you’ve ever wanted to be a bartender but you’re not sure how to get started, this guide is for you.

If you’ve ever struggled to find a bartending job (regardless of your experience), this guide is for you.

And if you’ve ever had any questions about bartending school, writing your resume, or the hiring process in general, this guide is for you!

This series isn’t going to teach you how to become a cocktail bartender overnight. That’s impossible. Instead, it will teach you the first steps you need to take to break into the industry and become a great bartender.

We won’t be singing kumbaya around the fire here. I’m sharing battle-proven strategies and insights discovered by me and my successful bartender friends.

Here’s what you’re going to learn throughout this guide:

So strap in, grab a coffee, and anything else that you like to consume whilst you’re learning, and let’s get to it!

So You Want to Be a Bartender

I don’t blame you.

If you love to socialize, travel, and party, bartending will be one of the best jobs you ever have. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to travel the world, make great money, it’s fun, you learn invaluable life skills, and you’ll make some great friends along the way.

And if you fall in love with it (like I did), you can realistically work in bars for the rest of your life. Alternatively, you could use it as a side gig while you work towards something else. Like studying at university, building a business, or traveling the world!

It doesn’t matter who you are. Anyone can do it and you don’t need to spend years studying at university to land a job. If you knew how you could start bartending tomorrow.

Money, flexibility, adventure, and excitement. It’s not a surprise that bartending jobs are highly sought-after positions. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can seem like an impossible industry to break into.

But is it really as tough as you think?

Becoming a Bartender is Easier than You Think

Despite bartending jobs appearing to be extremely competitive, the reality is, they’re not! I cringe every time I hear someone talk about how hard bartending jobs are to land.

In my experience, they’re anything but, regardless of how much experience you have.

But there’s a lot of bad advice out there on how to become a bartender. Some people will tell you that you HAVE to go to bartending school. Or that you NEED to have amazing social skills. Other people will tell you that you have to have ‘deep connections’ in the industry.

But the truth is, you don’t need any of this.

All you need is a plan and a strategy. And if you’re willing to put in the work (it’s not as much as you think), you’ll become a bartender.

I know, because I’ve done it.

Who am I?

Photo of Tom Bartending

I’m Tom Blake, professional bartender, bar manager and founder of Crafty Bartending. For the past 5 years (and counting) I’ve traveled the world working behind bars. It’s been an amazing journey and I’ve loved every minute of it.

Why bartending?

I’m not sure why, but as soon as I turned 18, I wanted to become a bartender. It looked so cool. In between making drinks and serving customers, the bartenders laughed with their colleagues, had shots with their customers, and chatted up the attractive waitresses!

It looked fantastic and I wanted to be a part of it.

But back then, my life was a lot different. I was a shy innocent kid who hadn’t seen much of the world, I didn’t have many friends, my social skills were poor, and I had very little life experience. I was the last person you would have expected to work behind a bar.

Fast-forward to today and my life couldn’t look more different.

I’ve managed bars in the French Alps and Melbourne, I’ve worked in hotels, restaurants, sports bars, cafes, and nightclubs. I’ve backpacked throughout Europe, I’ve lived in London, I’ve partied in Ibiza, I’ve trained in Thailand, I’ve developed some much needed social skills, and I’ve made some awesome friends along the way.

It’s been an incredible journey and it’s all because I became a bartender.

Am I special?

Far from it. I’m just a regular guy who took an interest in the craft of tending bar. Anyone can do it. And you don’t have to spend years studying at university or have any particular skill-sets.

If you can hold a conversation with a friend and you’re willing to learn, you can become a great bartender.

That being said, even though anyone can become a bartender, it’s not for everyone.

The Dark Side of Bartending

The Dark Side of Becoming a Bartender Photo

Most people assume bartenders are always having the time of their life. And to be fair, most of the time they are! How could they not?? They’re making great money, socializing for a living, laughing with their colleagues, and flirting with attractive women (or men).

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows… Great bartenders aren’t made overnight and working behind the bar can be tough.

First of all, no-one starts out as an exceptional bartender. The chances are, you won’t start out working in a cocktail bar, you won’t start out working the best shifts, and you won’t start out making great money. It takes time to get that kind of level.

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ the old adage goes. And becoming a great bartender is no exception.

Most talented bartenders don’t even start out as bartenders. They start out as servers or barbacks first before they progress into a bartending position.

And to be honest, it’s the best way to start!

It’s a lot easier to land a job as a barback or server. And you get to experience what it’s like working in a bar from the ground up. Instead of jumping behind the bar on a Friday night, getting completely overwhelmed, giving up, and concluding bartending isn’t for you. You’ll be able to ease your way into bartending and in the long run, you’ll be much better off.

It took me a year of working as a server, and then another 6 months of working behind the bar before I really started to excel as a bartender.

Then’s There’s the Actual Work

Working behind the bar isn’t always fun.

It’s going to get stressful when the bar’s full, you’re understaffed, and your POS system decides to shut down. You and your colleagues are going to have heated arguments in the middle of a shift. Customers are going to get annoyed at you when you cut them off. And you’re going to have to deal with the occasional drunk/rude customer yelling at you.

You’ll also be working late nights, long shifts, over the weekends, and during the holidays. These unusual hours can make it difficult to hang out with friends that aren’t in the industry. And it can put a strain on your romantic relationships.

For some people, this makes bartending a deal breaker.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s good to know these things up front before you jump into it.

For the rest of you, these smalls things won’t be a problem. And what you’ll get out of being a bartender will be priceless!

Instead of being locked into a job and location you don’t enjoy, you’ll have the freedom & flexibility to travel the world and work wherever you want.

It’s fun, you’ll make great money, you’ll develop insane social skills, and you’ll have your days free to do whatever you want. Like sleeping, or going to the beach!

What’s Next?

Learning how to become a bartender & landing your first hospitality job is relatively easy. All you need to do is follow a simple process, put in the work and you’ll become a bartender too.

Throughout the rest of this ULTIMATE guide, you’re going to learn what that process is. And more important, you’re going to learn exactly what you need to do to get started and launch your bartending career.

It will take some work on your end (there’s no such thing as a magic pill), but when you’re bartending in the French Alps, making $300 in tips a night, and traveling the world, you’ll know it was worth it ;-).

Click here to Go to Chapter 2: Proof You Can Become a Great Bartender

Founder of Crafty Bartending, Tom is passionate about the hospitality industry. For the past 5 years, he has traveled around Europe, Asia, & Australia working as a professional bartender & bar manager. He loves consuming cookies, big macs, beer and wine.

16 thoughts on “How to Become a Bartender – The Ultimate Guide

  1. This is always been my ambition . Currently workig on my knowledge but practical is more pf what i need right now.yes i am pumped up.looking forward for your reply.

    • Hey man, great to hear! This reminds me of a quote from Derek Sivers. ‘If knowledge was all we needed, we’d all be millionaires!’ I’m paraphrasing here, but I think you get the put! – Taking action is far more important in order to achieve our goals :-).

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