Is Bartending School a Waste of Time and Money?

At twenty three years old, I have held more than my fair share of jobs. Among these, however, the best has, without a doubt, been my career as a bartender. I love being a bartender. It is an extremely fun job that allows me to meet myriads of interesting people and get to know all about their fascinating lives. These are just some of the reasons that bartending is such a rewarding career. This is why when people ask me if they should start a career in bartending, I always encourage them. I love this job and I want other people to have the chance to love it too. However, when people begin asking me about going to Bartending School, I am less enthusiastic.

Some people think that in order to be successful, they need to take some bartending courses at a bar school. Here, they will shell out a large chunk of change to bartending schools in exchange for few classes about the difference between rum and gin. There are some schools for bartending that make it seem like these bartending classes are absolutely essential to getting hired by a bar. I am here to tell you not to buy into it. When you come across an enticing ad placed by a bar school, just walk away. Going to bartending school is simply waste of money ninety percent of the time. I did not attend a bartending school and my career is flourishing.

Most vendors will not require you to attend a bartending school. Typically, taking bartending classes is only required by large hotels or casinos. If the job you are applying for does not require a bar course, then you should not spend your hard earned money to attend bartending school. Some places of business may only require a bartending license, while others only require that the bartenders be at least twenty one.

It is important to do your research when trying to get a job as a bartender. Knowing what is required of you ahead of time looks professional to the bar manager and makes you appear like a reliable hire. All it takes is five minutes to look up your states required bartending laws on an internet search engine. Then you will know if you need to attend a bartending school or get a state issued license.

Not everything a bartender needs to know can be acquired through bartending schools. Aside from possessing knowledge about alcohol and being able to work in a fast pace environment, a bartender needs to have good people skills. One of the bartender’s main responsibilities is to communicate with the patrons. Some of this involves more knowledge on the bartender’s side than what can be taught in a bar school. One needs to know all of the relevant information pertaining to the best entertainment spots in town, the nearest hotel or knowing the number for the taxi cab company. Being able to entertain is also vital and every bartender should have a few jokes or anecdotes in their back pocket at all time to be able to recite at the drop of a hat. If working in a sports bar, always be up to date on the goings on in the athletic world.

Even more important than knowing how to communicate with patrons is knowing how to listen to them. Listening without interjecting is perhaps the most important skill that a bartender can possess. There is not a bar course, or any course for that matter, that can teach a person how to be a good listener.

Starting out in the world of bartending may be difficult. It is not the easiest industry to break into. This discourages some people into thinking that schools for bartending are their only option if they want to get ahead. Bartending schools thrive off of this kind of attitude and push the belief that in order to get hired, a bar course, if not several bartending classes should be taken. The even try to push refresher bartending courses on bartending veterans who know better.

The best way to start out in the bartending field is not going to Bartending School. Instead, networking is crucial. The most proactive first step is to apply to places that constantly cycle through their bar staff. Many restaurants and smaller hotel bars have a regular rotation of bartenders and bar backs. It would be best to start off as a bar back and eventually work your way up the ladder.

Another good step is to look into the bars that you, personally, frequent as a customer. Become one of their regular patrons and build a relationship with the other bartenders, the managers or even the bar owner. If you hit it off well, eventually mention that you would like to begin bartending and ask if they need any help. Because they are familiar with you, they may feel better about hiring you. This is also a good way to find out about the requirements for the job beforehand directly from people who work there. Find out if you need to attend Bartending School. This may change your mind about working there. Why waste money on bartending courses just to work at one particular place?

What you will come to learn is that most small bars work like families and everyone becomes very close. Like families, they take care of one another. I should know. After all, I am a bar manager. I worked my way from bar back to running the bar and not once did I think to attend Bartending School. I learned early on that networking and relationships were the key to success and the schools for bartending only wanted my money.