Employment Prospects


Approximately 644,100 bartenders are employed in the United States. Bartenders may be employed in restaurants, bars, hotels, vacation resorts, social clubs, food service establishments, and anywhere alcohol is served to the public. Additionally, they can find work serving alcoholic drinks at private parties and residences. Catering services often hire bartenders to serve at special functions.

Starting Out

Those interested in becoming bartenders often begin by working as bartender helpers (sometimes known as bar backs), waiters' assistants, or waiters. Small restaurants, neighborhood bars, and vacation resorts usually offer a beginner the best opportunity. Many people tend bar part time while working at other jobs or attending college, often serving at banquets and private parties at restaurants, at hotels, or in private homes. Vocational schools offering bartending courses sometimes help their graduates find jobs.

Application may be made directly to hotels, restaurants, cocktail lounges, and other businesses that serve alcoholic beverages. Some employment agencies specialize in placing hotel and restaurant personnel. Information about job opportunities may also be obtained from the local offices of the state employment service.

Advancement Prospects

With experience, a bartender may find employment in a large restaurant or cocktail lounge where the pay is higher. Opportunities for advancement in this field, however, are limited. A few persons may earn promotions to head bartender, wine steward, beverage manager, dining room supervisor, maître d', assistant manager, or restaurant general manager. Some bartenders go on to open their own taverns or restaurants.

Tips for Entry

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:


Apply for entry-level jobs in the food service industry to gain experience.

Talk to a bartender about his or her career.