How to Become a Bartender by Following 5 Easy Steps


Becoming a bartender can be a rewarding career choice, but it requires dedication and the right approach. In this guide, I will walk you through 5 easy steps that will help you launch your bartending career in the United States.

First, it is essential to define your motivations and understand the pros and cons of being a bartender. Reflect on why you want to pursue this career and weigh the advantages and challenges that come with it.

Next, consider taking bartending courses to develop the essential skills required for the job. These courses will teach you cocktail and spirit knowledge, mise en place, bartending techniques, mixology, speed, efficiency, and the ability to make multiple drinks simultaneously.

Once you have acquired the necessary skills, gaining industry experience is crucial. Start by working at a restaurant or neighborhood bar to hone your skills and build a solid foundation. This experience will prepare you to apply for positions at high-end cocktail bars, where you can continue to grow and learn.

Continual learning and expanding your knowledge is vital in the bartending industry. Stay updated on new trends and techniques by reading books, manuals, and taking online courses. This will help you stay competitive and provide excellent service to your customers.

Obtaining certifications, such as alcohol server training, is an essential step in showcasing your skills as a bartender. Additionally, consider working in positions like server or barback to gain more experience and demonstrate your capabilities.

To fully embrace the bartending lifestyle, prioritize customer service and develop a friendly and outgoing personality. Research drink recipes, visit bars, and immerse yourself in the late-night nature of the industry.

Key Takeaways:

  • Define your motivations and understand the pros and cons of being a bartender
  • Take bartending courses to develop essential skills
  • Gain experience in the industry by starting at a restaurant or neighborhood bar
  • Continue learning and expanding your knowledge through books, manuals, and online courses
  • Obtain certifications and showcase your skills through positions like server or barback

By following these 5 easy steps, you can set yourself up for success in the bartending industry and embark on a fulfilling career.

Step 1: Define Your Motivations and Understand the Pros and Cons

Before embarking on your journey to become a bartender, it’s crucial to ask yourself why you want to pursue this career path and understand the pros and cons that come with it. Bartending can be an exciting and rewarding profession, but it also requires a certain set of skills and comes with its own set of challenges.

One of the first things you need to do is define your motivations. Are you drawn to the creativity of mixology? Do you enjoy engaging with people and creating memorable experiences? Identifying your motivations will help you stay focused and committed to the craft.

However, it’s equally important to be aware of the pros and cons of bartending. On the positive side, bartending can provide a flexible schedule, opportunities for networking, and the potential to earn good tips. It allows you to showcase your creativity and develop skills that can be transferred to various industries. On the flip side, it can be physically demanding, require long hours, and involve working late nights and weekends. It’s also crucial to be prepared for handling difficult customers and high-pressure situations.

Benefits of Defining Motivations and Understanding Pros and Cons

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Helps you stay focused and committed
  • Guides your career decisions
  • Highlights your strengths
  • Physically demanding
  • Long hours and late nights
  • Dealing with difficult customers

By defining your motivations and understanding the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about whether bartending is the right path for you. It will help you set realistic expectations and ensure you are prepared for the challenges that come with the job. Remember, becoming a bartender requires dedication, hard work, and a genuine passion for the craft.


– Bartending Pros and Cons: [source]
– Bartending and Mixology – The Ultimate Guide: [source]

To excel as a bartender, it’s essential to invest in your education and develop the necessary skills. Consider enrolling in bartending courses that cover topics like cocktail and spirit knowledge, mise en place, bartending techniques, mixology, speed, and efficiency. These courses provide a solid foundation and help you build the expertise required to succeed behind the bar.

One of the key skills every bartender needs is a deep understanding of cocktails and spirits. Knowing the various types of liquor, their flavors, and how they pair with different mixers is crucial. Bartending courses often focus on teaching you the essentials of mixology, including classic recipes and popular contemporary cocktails. This knowledge allows you to confidently create innovative and delicious drinks that keep customers coming back for more.

In addition to cocktail knowledge, bartending courses also cover essential skills like mise en place and bartending techniques. Mise en place refers to the preparation and organization of all the necessary ingredients, tools, and garnishes before service. This ensures smooth and efficient operations during busy shifts. Bartending techniques, on the other hand, include everything from shaking, stirring, and straining drinks to creating visually appealing garnishes and mastering the art of flair bartending.


Speed and efficiency are paramount in the fast-paced world of bartending. Good bartenders must be able to handle multiple drink orders simultaneously while maintaining quality and accuracy. Bartending courses often teach strategies and techniques to work quickly and efficiently, ensuring that customers are served promptly and drinks are made to perfection.

Table: Essential Skills Learned in Bartending Courses

Skill Description
Cocktail and Spirit Knowledge Understanding different types of liquor, their flavors, and how to create various cocktails.
Mise en Place Preparation and organization of ingredients, tools, and garnishes before service.
Bartending Techniques Mastering shaking, stirring, straining, and flair bartending.
Speed and Efficiency Working quickly and accurately to handle multiple drink orders.

By taking bartending courses and developing these essential skills, you’ll be well-prepared to start your journey towards becoming a successful bartender. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to apply your new knowledge and skills in real-life scenarios. The more you practice, the more confident and efficient you will become behind the bar.

Step 3: Gain Experience in the Industry

Once you have acquired the fundamental skills, it’s time to gain practical experience in the world of bartending. Starting at a restaurant or neighborhood bar will provide valuable experience and set the foundation for your career. While high-end cocktail bars may be the ultimate goal, it’s important to understand that they often require prior experience and a solid skillset.

Working at a restaurant or neighborhood bar allows you to familiarize yourself with the fast-paced environment and build confidence in your abilities. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with customers, learn from experienced bartenders, and refine your techniques. This hands-on experience will help you navigate the challenges that come with working in a bar, such as multitasking, handling difficult customers, and maintaining a clean and organized workspace.

As you gain more experience and hone your skills, you can start setting your sights on high-end cocktail bars. These establishments often have higher standards and require a more advanced skillset. The experience you’ve gained at a restaurant or neighborhood bar will give you a competitive edge when applying to these prestigious establishments.

Benefits of gaining experience at a restaurant or neighborhood bar
Opportunity to develop fundamental skills
Build confidence and familiarity with bartending environment
Learn from experienced bartenders
Refine techniques and improve efficiency
Interact with customers and handle challenging situations
Provide a solid foundation for career progression

Remember, gaining experience is a continuous process that involves learning and growing in your role as a bartender. It’s important to stay open-minded, adaptable, and willing to learn from those around you. Each experience, whether it’s at a restaurant, neighborhood bar, or high-end cocktail bar, will contribute to your growth and development as a bartender.

bartender gaining experience

By following these steps and gaining valuable experience, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful bartender. Stay motivated, continue learning, and embrace the challenges and rewards that come with this exciting career. Cheers to a future filled with creativity, passion, and delicious cocktails!

Step 4: Continue Learning and Expand Your Knowledge

The world of bartending is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay ahead by continuously learning and expanding your knowledge. Explore resources like books, manuals, and online courses to stay updated on the latest trends and techniques. As a bartender, your expertise and creativity in crafting cocktails can set you apart from the competition.

Expand your knowledge by seeking out books that delve into the history and art of mixology, such as “The Craft of the Cocktail” by Dale DeGroff or “Liquid Intelligence” by Dave Arnold. These invaluable resources provide deep insights into the world of cocktails, helping you understand the foundations of classic drinks and inspiring you to experiment with new flavors and techniques.

Online courses are another excellent way to enhance your bartending skills. Websites like Udemy offer a variety of courses taught by industry professionals. Whether you’re interested in mastering the art of flair bartending or learning the secrets of molecular mixology, these courses provide convenient and affordable options for expanding your knowledge from the comfort of your own home.

Resources for Expanding Your Knowledge Website
Tales of the Cocktail

Remember, learning doesn’t stop at the bar. By immersing yourself in the world of bartending and continuously expanding your knowledge, you’ll become a more skilled and confident bartender, ready to impress your customers with your expertise and creativity.


In the competitive world of bartending, certifications and showcasing your skills are key to standing out. Obtaining alcohol server training certifications not only enhances your knowledge and expertise but also demonstrates your commitment to professionalism and responsible service. It’s essential to be well-versed in liquor laws, regulations, and safety measures to ensure the well-being of customers.

A popular certification program is the Responsible Alcohol Service Training (RAST), which provides comprehensive training on identifying and handling alcohol-related issues, such as intoxication and underage drinking. By completing this program, you will gain valuable knowledge and improve your competencies as a bartender.

In addition to certifications, practical experience is vital for showcasing your skills. Taking on roles like a server or barback allows you to work closely with experienced bartenders, observe their techniques, and learn from their expertise. This hands-on experience helps you develop essential skills such as time management, multitasking, and customer interaction, which are crucial in providing exceptional service behind the bar.

Practical Experience in the Industry

Certification Description
Raising the Bar This program focuses on advanced mixology techniques, enabling you to create innovative and unique cocktails. It covers topics such as flavor profiles, ingredient pairing, and presentation.
Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge of wines and spirits, the WSET offers globally recognized certifications. These programs provide in-depth understanding of various alcoholic beverages, including production methods, tasting techniques, and food pairing suggestions.
ServSafe Alcohol This certification ensures that you understand the best practices for alcohol service safety and responsibility. It covers topics such as recognizing signs of intoxication, preventing underage drinking, and managing difficult situations.

“Certifications not only enhance your knowledge and expertise but also demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and responsible service.” – John Doe, Experienced Bartender

By combining certifications with practical experience, you can showcase your dedication to the craft and stand out among other aspiring bartenders. The combination of theoretical knowledge and real-world skills will make you an attractive candidate for high-end cocktail bars and establishments that value expertise and professionalism.

bartender certifications

It’s important to note that certifications and experience alone are not enough to become a successful bartender. Continuously honing your skills, learning new techniques, and staying updated with industry trends are equally important. The world of bartending is ever-changing, and being adaptable and up-to-date will set you apart from the competition.

In summary, obtaining alcohol server training certifications and gaining practical experience are essential steps in becoming a successful bartender. These certifications not only provide valuable knowledge but also demonstrate your dedication to responsible service. Through practical experience, you can showcase your skills and learn from seasoned professionals. By taking these steps and continuously growing your expertise, you’ll be well-equipped to excel in the competitive world of bartending.

Embrace the Bartending Lifestyle and Customer Service

To truly thrive as a bartender, it’s essential to embrace the bartending lifestyle and prioritize customer service. As a bartender, you are not just a drink maker but also an entertainer and a host. Developing a friendly and outgoing personality will help you connect with customers and create a welcoming atmosphere in your bar or restaurant.

Researching drink recipes and staying up to date with the latest trends in mixology is crucial. Experiment with different flavors, ingredients, and techniques to create unique and exciting cocktails. Visiting other bars can also provide inspiration and help you learn from experienced professionals in the industry.

One important aspect of the bartending lifestyle is adjusting to the late-night nature of the job. Bartenders often work long hours into the early morning, so it’s important to maintain a healthy sleep schedule and take care of your physical and mental well-being. Make sure to find time for relaxation, exercise, and self-care.

Customer service is the backbone of bartending. Providing excellent service means going above and beyond to ensure each customer has a memorable experience. Listen to their preferences and make recommendations based on their taste. Anticipate their needs and always serve with a smile. Building a loyal customer base through exceptional service can lead to increased tips and future opportunities.

In conclusion, becoming a successful bartender requires more than just mixing drinks. Embrace the bartending lifestyle by developing a friendly personality, researching and experimenting with drink recipes, and adjusting to the late-night nature of the industry. Prioritizing customer service will set you apart from the competition and contribute to your success as a bartender. Remember to always give your best, stay passionate, and enjoy the journey!


Q: What are the steps to become a bartender?

A: The steps to becoming a bartender involve defining your motivations, taking bartending courses, gaining experience in the industry, continuing to learn and expand your knowledge, and obtaining certifications to showcase your skills.

Q: Why is it important to define my motivations and understand the pros and cons?

A: Defining your motivations and understanding the pros and cons of being a bartender will help you evaluate if it is the right career choice for you. It will also provide clarity and motivation throughout the journey.

Q: What skills do I need to develop as a bartender?

A: As a bartender, you need to develop skills such as cocktail and spirit knowledge, mise en place, bartending techniques, mixology, speed, efficiency, and the ability to make multiple drinks at once.

Q: How can I gain experience in the industry?

A: You can start by working at a restaurant or neighborhood bar to gain experience. This will provide opportunities for growth and learning before applying to high-end cocktail bars.

Q: How can I continue learning and expanding my knowledge as a bartender?

A: You can continuously learn and expand your knowledge by reading books and manuals, attending workshops or online courses, and keeping up with industry trends and techniques.

Q: What certifications should I obtain as a bartender?

A: It is important to obtain certifications such as alcohol server training and any other relevant certifications required by your state or country. Additionally, showcasing your skills through positions like server or barback can also be beneficial.

Q: How can I embrace the bartending lifestyle and prioritize customer service?

A: Embracing the bartending lifestyle involves immersing yourself in the industry by researching drink recipes, visiting bars, and becoming a night owl. Additionally, developing a friendly and outgoing personality and prioritizing excellent customer service will set you apart as a bartender.