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How Much Do Bartenders Make? How Much Are Tips?

Young caucasian bartender serving his customer at bar counter.

Working as a bartender and serving drinks to patrons is one of the oldest professions in the book. And, after all of this time and plenty of industry innovations, bartending can still provide a lucrative opportunity for those who work hard and find the right spot to work. As a bartender, you can expect to earn anywhere from $12 to $17 an hour on average, in addition to tips.

Bartender tips can bring in anywhere from $50 to more than $250 per day in cash, which makes bartending such an appealing and lucrative opportunity for some. 

How do I get started working as a bartender?

A beginner bartender mixing a cocktail using a long wooden stick.

Getting started working as a bartender first requires you to be at least 21 years of age. You may also need to have experience, schooling, or professional training under your belt, depending on the location you would like to work in as well as the state you are living and working in.

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What is the average hourly salary for a bartender in the US?

Across the US, the average bartender earns between $14 and $17, varying with their home location’s current cost of living.

How much does a bartender earn on a weekly basis?

Bartenders may be paid like a traditional employee, every other week, or they may be paid weekly or even daily in some cases, depending on the bar you are working in and the state you reside in.

On average, a full-time bartender will earn approximately $750 per week. This amount will obviously vary based on the bar you are working in, your location, your own professional experience, as well as the type of shifts you take on.

How much does a bartender earn on a monthly basis?

Along the same lines, a bartender will earn approximately $2,914 per month when working as a bartender full-time in the US (while also having the ability to collect tips from customers).

The amount a bartender will earn during any given month is also likely to fluctuate depending on the number of hours that were worked, which shifts were covered, as well as any large parties or special events that were hosted in any given month while bartending.

How much does an experienced bartender make each hour?

This amount will vary based on not only how many years of experience you have as a bartender, but also on the location you are working at, as well as the state you reside in. For those who have 1-2 years of experience working in bars, you can expect to earn approximately $13 an hour (without counting tips). Bartenders with 3-5 years of experience can expect to land gigs starting at $14-15 an hour, also depending on where they are located.

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For those who have been working in the industry for more than 10 years, it is not uncommon to seek out positions that start at $16-$18 an hour.

Do men or women make more as bartenders?

Bartender woman working with protective face mask at the bar.

This is also dependent on where you currently live, who is working as a bartender in your region, as well as how tips are also accounted for and measured. According to the BLS, men typically earn a higher wage than women on average when it comes to the base pay for working as a bartender.

On average, men who work as full-time bartenders bring home an average of $583 each week, whereas female bartenders earn approximately $477 before tips while working as a bartender across the US.

It is important to note that while it is estimated that men earn more on average when it comes to the hourly rate of working as a bartender, there is no accounting for tips that may also be earned while working a shift. In some cases, women may outperform men in earnings just due to tips alone.

How much does a bartender earn in tips for each drink sale?

There is no way to determine a set amount that a bartender earns with each drink they sell and/or serve. However, it is customary in some locations to tip at least $1 per drink to your bartender, especially when dining out or spending time in a bar after work.

How much should I tip for each drink I order at a bar?

Man working as a bartender and customer with a whiskey.

Tipping the bartender who serves you at a bar is a common courtesy and it is typically considered polite to do so, especially when you are spending extended time at a local bar or restaurant. When tipping for drinks that you order, keep the following base list in mind to help you to better navigate the appropriate tip amount each time you head to the bar:

  • Simple drinks, beers, and shots: $1 per drink
  • Simple cocktails: $1-2 per drink
  • Elaborate cocktails: $2-4 per drink
  • Overall bill: 18%-20%, depending on the level of service you receive
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Does the tipping percentage vary by state?

In some cases, you may find that higher tipping rates are expected in states with a higher cost of living, but this is standard across most industries today, especially those involving food and hospitality. The standard average tipping rate in the US is currently 15% when it comes to bartending and tipping servers in both restaurants and bar locations.

How much does a bartender earn in tips each shift?

On average, bartenders can earn anywhere from $50 to more than $250 just in tips alone after working on a shift in a bar, depending on the traffic as well as the type of patrons they receive. In some instances, it is even possible for bartenders to earn upwards of $1,000 per shift, especially when serving large parties or even wedding gatherings and counting tips.

What to keep in mind if you are thinking of working as a bartender

Bartender shaking a whiskey at the bar.

If you are thinking of working as a bartender or training to become one, it is best first to familiarize yourself with the industry, so you know what to expect once you begin applying for positions and actually working as a bartender yourself.

Type of Bar

Not all bars are created equally. Some bars are considered “dive bars”, which are more likely to attract an after-work crowd or a crowd of locals. Other bars, such as nightclubs, private clubs, and even arcades, may operate differently and also sell drinks at different prices than standard bars or dive bar spots.

Bars that require dress codes or appeal to a niche audience may charge a cover to get in while also charging more for drinks, ultimately helping bartenders to earn bigger tips.

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Shifts

When working as a bartender, consider the shifts you are interested in working and covering. Bartenders who are available throughout all of the weekends (including night shifts) are most likely to earn the most in both hourly pay as well as in tip revenue.

Experience

The amount you will earn as a bartender will greatly depend on your own skill level as well as your experience as a bartender in the professional realm. The more experienced and familiar you are with making a wide range of drinks, the easier it will become to attract a high-paying clientele and better tips.

If you have been working as a bartender for upwards of 5-10 years or more, you can expect to earn more while also having the ability to land more lucrative positions and opportunities that are right for you and your preferred pay rate.

What does a bartender earn as an average salary?

In the US, the current bartender will earn approximately $60,700 annually if they make an average of $13 per hour and approximately $150 per day in tips from patrons. The overall median wage of American bartenders who are working full-time in the US is currently $51,480 as of 2021, which means bartending is not a bad gig all around.

Do bartenders make good money?

While this question is typically subjective, bartenders do tend to make more than those who are working in other markets and industries throughout the US on average, especially those who are also able to earn tips on a daily basis. Experienced bartenders typically make more than the average American who is working a standard and typical 9-5 position, which is why working as a bartender is so appealing to many who are seeking an alternative way of earning a living.

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