Two bartenders preparing drinks behind a bar.

4 Types of Bartending Jobs and How They Compare

3 Min Read

In this article we examine the different types of bartending jobs, descriptions and experience required.

Whether you’re considering becoming a bartender, you’re a server looking to make a change, or you’re an experienced bartender looking to grow, there are a number of different bartending jobs that may be right for you.

Bartending Job 1: Bartender

First, let’s look at the most well-known bartending job: bartender. A bartender is responsible for pouring and serving drinks, but the role doesn’t stop there. Bartender job responsibilities include various other tasks, such as managing money and taking payment, customer interaction and engagement, taking inventory and managing stock levels, and a number of different physical tasks like stocking the bar or moving shipments of product. Working in a bartender job is often an extremely busy role, especially on high-traffic nights and weekends.

Bartending Job 2: Barback

If you have little or no experience, the thought of being thrown behind the bar in the middle of a busy Saturday night may seem really scary. Sure, you’ll receive on-the-job training, but even your training can occur during a high-pressure, high-volume time. The good news is, there are other types of bartending jobs that allow you to build up some experience and get comfortable with the environment. One such bartending job is a barback.

What is a barback?

Similar to a bartender, a barback has many responsibilities, but at the core, a barback supports the smooth operation of the bar. The role can be compared to a busser, except in a bar environment instead of a food-service or kitchen environment.

What does a barback do?

The barback may be responsible for:

  • Stocking and restocking the bar (especially during busy periods when the bartenders may be too busy)
  • Prepping garnishes (for example, cutting lemons and limes), juices and mixes
  • Refilling ice
  • Changing beer kegs
  • Assisting the bartender with taking inventory
  • Washing and restocking glassware and mixing tools
  • Stocking napkins, straws and other materials
  • Cleaning and wiping down bartops, tables, etc.

Barback bartending jobs don’t often require specific bartending experience to start, and many hiring managers consider serving experience applicable. Becoming a barback is a great way to dip your toe into a bartending job and learn the ropes, without the same pressure and expectations of the bartender role.

Bartending Job 3: Service Bartender

In establishments that have table alcohol service, there are often multiple roles designated for support. The first is a server, and the second is the bartender who works the service bar.
Known as a service bartender, this position is responsible for making the drinks for table service guests. This role is particularly useful for bartenders developing people skills (or those who may be better with less people engagement) or new hires looking to develop their drink mixing skills without the fast-paced pressure mentioned previously.

Bartending Job 4: Bartending Manager

Moving up the ranks in seniority and responsibility, the last type of bartending role is the bar manager. The manager is responsible for overseeing the operations of a bar.

What does a bar manager do?

As a manager, duties include:

Hiring and managing bartenders, barbacks and other staff
  • Managing inventory
  • Overseeing money handling
  • Training staff (check out our Alcohol Server Training Guide for useful tips)
  • Ensuring compliance with any applicable serving laws and regulations (For example, in California, all alcohol servers and their managers are required to obtain Responsible Beverage Service Training and certification. The bar manager would require their certification as well as confirm their staff were properly certified.)

As you can see, there are many types of bartender jobs to choose from, so you can find the one that’s right for you given your interests, level of experience or education, and desired career path.

Visit our complete guide for more information on the steps to becoming a bartender

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