Working as a bartender can provide unique opportunities to meet thousands of people from all walks of life. If you enjoy being social and working in the service industry, you might want to consider becoming a full-time bartender. Before getting started on your journey to becoming a bartender, it is best to first become familiar with the requirements for working as a bartender in the United States.
Although there are technically no height requirements to become a bartender, you will need to be at least 18 years of age (21 in some locations) and have the ability to see over the bar in which you are serving.
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How old do you have to be to be a bartender?
In the United States, you must be at least 18 years of age to serve alcohol, according to current federal law. However, some institutions and organizations may require bartenders to be at least 21 years of age before they are permitted to sell alcohol to guests and paying patrons. Each bar or venue will vary, which is why it is important to research each position before applying, especially if you are young or new to bartending as a whole.
What are the requirements to become a bartender?
In addition to meeting the minimum age requirement for working as a bartender in the US, you may also need to complete on-the-job training or, in some instances, even professional specialized training courses.
In the state of North Dakota, all bartenders are required to train on the first Thursday of every month with an RBS, or Responsible Beverage Server course. This helps to manage and oversee quality control of all bartenders who are currently active and serving in a bar throughout the state.
You may also be required to prove your experience by showcasing various drink recipes you are familiar with as well as your own pouring skills. Learning the basics of pouring and knowing how to make and perfect popular drinks in the region you intend to work in can go a long way when applying for a position as a bartender.
What type of education do I need to work as a bartender?
Fortunately, those who wish to become a bartender are not often required to obtain a degree or complete any formal education.
However, if you are interested in landing an exclusive role in a top-tier venue, it does not hurt to complete bartending and training courses. Bartending training courses and classes are useful not only for practical skills but also for outperforming others who may be interested in the same bartending position as you.
Is there any height requirement for working as a bartender?
No, there are no legal height requirements for those who are interested in working as a bartender. For most bartenders, it is essential to see over the bar they are working at in order to properly see and serve customers in a timely manner.
However, some bars and organizations may be more accommodating and may also provide stepping stools and solutions for those who require a height boost before they are able to serve.
What kind of personality do you need to work as a bartender?
If you are thinking of working as a bartender, it is best to do so only if you consider yourself a people person.
Not everyone is cut out to work as a bartender, especially those who are not interested in socializing or making small talk with strangers. If you are extremely patient, calm, easy-going, and enjoy getting to know others without any expectations, working as a bartender may be the perfect role for you.
Some personality traits that the most successful bartenders typically have include:
- Mixology Skills: Being the best bartender you can be is obviously one of the best traits to have when you are serving. Improving your mixology skills will not only help you to land higher-paying gigs and opportunities, but it will also help with earning more tips from your regulars.
- Engaging: Engaging with patrons is a key component of any successful bartender. Making connections and building relationships can increase the venue’s overall loyalty as well as the amount of business you receive.
- Patience: Being patient is essential for any bartender, whether you are working in dive bars or covering massive weddings and venues. At times, patrons may become too inebriated, rude, or even attempt to get physical, which is why it is imperative for bartenders to have patience whenever they are confronted with an unruly customer.
- Attention to Detail: Similarly to working as a waitress or server, you must always pay attention when you are working as a bartender. Paying attention to details of orders and customers can help with building trust and loyalty while ensuring future business.
- Positive Disposition: Maintaining a positive attitude and disposition is necessary for bartenders to work long-term in their positions, especially if they are interested in working in top-tier venues. Having a positive disposition will not only help to make interactions with patrons more pleasant, but it can also help you to enjoy your work while you are on the job.
- Physically Quick: As a bartender, you will need to manage numerous customers and orders simultaneously, which means being quick on your feet. Navigating the bar and managing multiple drinks at once can come in handy when it comes to serving as a bartender.
How can I improve my chances of being hired as a bartender?
Being chosen as the preferred applicant when applying for a bartending role can be extremely competitive, especially if you are applying at a popular venue or working in a thriving city. If you want to improve your chances of being hired as a bartender, keep the following tips in mind:
- Gain Experience: Working at smaller dive bars or smaller serving venues is a great way to gain experience, especially if you have your eyes on a large nightclub or a popular local venue. The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to have the ability to choose the gigs you are interested in working and taking on, whether you choose to work as a freelance bartender, or if you are in search of a full-time position.
- Show Your Mixology Skills: Showing off your mixology skills while applying and interviewing for a new bartending position can also help to impress prospective employers. The more you know when it comes to the basics of pouring, traditional cocktails, as well as specialty cocktails, the better your chances of being hired.
- Practice for the Interview: Working as a bartender can be extremely competitive, especially if you are interested in filling the role in a popular club or venue. Practice ahead of time for your interview by researching current drinks and specialties that are served at the location you wish to work at yourself. The more familiar you are with the venue, the better your chances of being chosen as the new hire.
What kind of attire is required to work as a bartender?
The attire will vary based on where you choose to work and the type of venue you are serving in. For local dive bars and traditional sports bars, a casual outfit or a simple branded t-shirt may be required. Some local dive bars may not require their employees to wear uniforms.
Other bars may ask that servers and bartenders wear specific types of attire, ranging from branded outfits to entire uniforms with accessories. In luxury bars and venues, you may be required to wear slacks, sweaters, and suits whenever you are on duty. Before accepting a new position as a bartender, it is best to first inquire about any dress code you may need to adhere to prior to starting your first shift.
What types of shoes will I need to wear as a bartender?
While many bars and venues that serve alcohol will not enforce strict dress codes or uniforms, you may be required to wear specific shoe types depending on the environment you are working and serving in.
If you are working and serving in a commercial kitchen and bar, you may be required to wear commercial cooking and serving shoes for maximum protection. Other bar venues may request that formal shoes, flats, high heels, and dress shoes be worn at all times by all employees, including bartenders and servers alike.