Bartending Certification: Goldmine Or Waste Of Time?

There’s an obvious appeal to the bartender. He or she is, at any given moment, a social director, a friendly ear, or simply the person who delivers your drinks with a smile. A great bartender is one of a bar’s greatest assets, often bringing in a consistent crowd of regulars who enjoy stopping in and adding to the bottom line.

Bartenders themselves have a unique advantage, all things being equal. In the right establishment, an effective bartender can earn full time wages working part time hours. It’s not unusual for these hardworking barkeeps to take home several hundred dollars per shift. As a result, the bartending profession is viewed with great respect and is a desired occupation for many.

Breaking In To The Bartending Profession

Very frankly, the best way to land a bartending job is to have direct experience as a bartender. Of course, this is a classic Catch 22. Most establishments strongly prefer to hire experienced bartenders since the bar business brings in the most profit. But much like any other profession, there is an educational alternative that might help certain individuals land their first bartending job, or even advance their career.

We are, of course, referring to bartending schools. These schools are located in most major cities, and function as a means to acquire practical experience without actually working on the job.

Bartending Schools 101

Here are some of the things you can expect to learn after you enroll in a bartending school:

– Understanding the bar culture and how to deal with customers.

– Exploring relationships between bartenders, servers, and bar support personnel.

– Education and certification for state requirements, such as alcohol awareness programs.

– Comprehensive mixology modules to learn how to mix drinks.

Typically, these and other course elements are completed in 6 to 8 weeks. Costs vary, although a student should expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to a thousand dollars to complete the course.

Are Bartending Schools Worth The Time And Money?

Those who enroll in a bartending school and expect to land a six figure bartending job upon graduation will be sorely disappointed. It’s safe to say, though, that completing a program will help you land your first job. Bartending is a profession where personal characteristics and on the job performance mean everything. A diploma won’t help you when you’re behind a busy bar with demanding customers clamoring for drinks.

We do recommend reputable bartending schools as a means to get your first bartending job or as a refresher course for career changers. However, expectations should be limited. Personal characteristics and experience are key in the bar business. Use a bartending school to help you determine whether or not bartending is a career that matches your skill set.

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