A bartender


Bartenders serve alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks as requested by clients in a hospitality service bar outlet.

Bartenders typically do the following:

  • Greet customers, offer menus, and inform them of specials
  • Take customers’ food and drink orders
  • Pour and serve wine, beer, and other drinks
  • Mix drinks according to recipes
  • Check customers’ identification to ensure that they are of legal drinking age
  • Clean bars, tables, and work areas
  • Collect payment from customers and return change
  • Engage with customers
  • Manage the operation of the bar and restock liquor and bar supplies
  • Monitor the level of intoxication of customers

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to bartender:

bar staff
bar woman
bar keeper

Working conditions

Bartenders typically work indoors, some work outdoors at pool or beach bars or at catered events.

During busy hours, bartenders are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently while ensuring that no alcohol is served to minors or to overly intoxicated customers.

Bartenders do repetitive tasks, and sometimes they lift heavy kegs of beer and cases of liquor. In addition, the work may be stressful, particularly when they deal with intoxicated customers.

Work Schedules

Bartenders often work late evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. Part-time work is common, and schedules may vary.

Minimum qualifications

No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a bartender. However, some employers may prefer or require candidates to have a high school diploma. Some aspiring bartenders acquire their skills by attending a school for bartending or taking courses at a community college. These programs usually include instruction on mixing cocktails, serving customers, and setting up a bar. Some schools help their graduates find jobs.

Bartenders typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few weeks. Under the guidance of an experienced bartender, trainees learn cocktail recipes, bar-setup procedures, and customer service, including how to handle unruly customers and other challenging situations. In establishments where bartenders serve food, training may cover teamwork and proper food-handling procedures.

Some employers teach bartending skills to new workers by providing self-study programs, which may include videos and instructional booklets, that explain service skills.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Bartender is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Bartender career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to bartender.

cocktail bartender
quick service restaurant team leader

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of bartender. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of bartender with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

venue director
restaurant manager
pastry chef
camping ground manager
rooms division manager

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of bartender.

  • Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
  • Handle glassware: Utilise glassware by polishing, cleaning and storing it properly.
  • Upsell products: Persuade customers to buy additional or more expensive products.
  • Display spirits: Show full range of available spirits in a visually pleasing manner.
  • Clear the bar at closing time: Free the bar at closing time by politely encouraging patrons to leave at closing time according to policy.
  • Handover the service area: Leave service area in conditions which follow safe and secure procedures, so that it is ready for the next shift.
  • Stock the bar: Keep and replenish bar inventory and bar supplies.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Take food and beverage orders from customers: Accept orders from customers and record them into the Point of Sale system. Manage order requests and communicate them to fellow staff members.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Enforce alcohol drinking laws: Implement local legislation surrounding the selling of alcoholic beverages, including its sale to minors.
  • Take payments for bills: Accept payments from customers by cash money or credit cards.
  • Present drinks menu: Acquaint guests with items on the drinks menu, make recommendations and answer questions regarding beverages.
  • Set up bar area: Arrange the bar area such as the counter, equipment, side stations, side tables and displays, so that it is ready for the upcoming shift and in conditions which follow safe, hygienic and secure procedures.
  • Process payments: Accept payments such as cash, credit cards and debit cards. Handle reimbursement in case of returns or administer vouchers and marketing instruments such as bonus cards or membership cards. Pay attention to safety and the protection of personal data.
  • Handle bar equipment: Use bar equipment such as cocktail shakers, blenders and cutting boards.
  • Serve beverages: Provide a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, mineral waters, wine and bottled beer over a counter or using a tray.
  • Maintain bar cleanliness: Keep cleanliness in all the bar areas including counters, sinks, glasses, shelves, floors and storage areas.
  • Detect drug abuse: Identify people under excessive use of alcohol and drugs inside a facility, effectively deal with these people and supervise customers own safety while applying relevant regulations.
  • Prepare hot drinks: Make hot drinks by brewing coffee and tea and adequately preparing other hot beverages.
  • Execute opening and closing procedures: Apply standard opening and closing procedures for a bar, a store, a restaurant or a marketplace.
  • Serve beers: Provide beers from bottle or draught, depending on the type of beer.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of bartender. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Sparkling wines: The varieties of sparkling wines and their match with food products.
  • Local area tourism industry: The characteristics of local sights and events, accommodation, bars and restaurants and leisure activities.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of bartender. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Clean beer pipes: Disinfect beer pipes on regular basis according to guidelines to ensure the beer is tasty and hygienic.
  • Educate customers on tea varieties: Instruct customers about origins, characteristics, differences in flavours and blends of tea products.
  • Compile drinks price lists: Set prices according to needs and preferences of guests.
  • Prepare fruit ingredients for use in beverages: Cut or blend fruits for use in preparation and decoration of drinks such as cocktails and aperitifs.
  • Serve wines: Provide wine using proper techniques in front of the customers. Open the bottle correctly, decant the wine if needed, serve and keep the wine in the proper temperature and container.
  • Handle gas cylinders: Grip gas cylinders in a safe manner and ensure they are compliant with safety and health regulations.
  • Prepare garnish for drinks: Clean and cut fruit and vegetables to garnish a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Prepare mixed beverages: Make a range of mixed alcoholic drinks, such as cocktails and long drinks and non-alcoholic drinks according to the recipes.
  • Change kegs: Substitute kegs and barrels for a new one in a safe and hygienic manner.
  • Educate customers on coffee varieties: Instruct customers about origins, characteristics, differences in flavours and blends of coffee products.
  • Compile drinks menu: Create drinks inventory according to needs and preferences of guests.
  • Apply foreign languages in hospitality: Use the mastery of foreign languages orally or written in the hospitality sector in order to communicate with colleagues, customers or guests.
  • Create decorative food displays: Design decorative food displays by determining how food is presented in the most attractive way and realising food displays in order to maximise revenue.
  • Assemble cocktail garnishes: Create cocktail garnishes by applying decorations such as straws, stirrers, spices and condiments.
  • Devise special promotions: Develop promotion activities to stimulate sales.

ISCO group and title

5132 – Bartenders

  1. Bartender – ESCO
  2. Bartenders : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Featured image: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Last updated on November 6, 2022

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