Smiling bartender with customers.

Pros and Cons of Bartending

4 Min Read

A bartender job can be one of the most fun, lucrative positions out there, but you may be wondering if it’s right for you. To help you decide, we explore some pros and cons of bartending.

Bartender Job Description

To get started, we’ll look at some of the basics of bartending and what the day-to-day might look like. As a bartender, you’ll be responsible for the following:

  • Mixing, pouring and serving drinks
  • Interacting with customers
  • Managing inventory and keeping an eye on stock levels
  • Running a cash register/point-of-sale (POS) system and handling money

Sound good so far? Let’s dig a little deeper and review some pros of being a bartender.

Pros of being a bartender:

Your days are usually free

For college students or people looking for a secondary income source, bartending is a perfect option because usually shifts fall on nights and weekends. Having your days free means having a lot of flexibility, depending on your needs.

The job outlook is positive

While many industries are suffering job losses due to inflation, supply chain challenges and the continuous increase in cost of goods, the job outlook for bartenders is extremely positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 32% growth rate in its 2020-2030 job outlook – much faster than the average growth rate. Bartending jobs are in steady supply and this suggests things will only improve.

You can earn more through tips

One of the best checks in the pro column for bartending is the potential for tips. While a lot of bartenders are paid minimum wage, which varies depending on the state you’re in, you have the opportunity to increase your income through tips. It’s estimated that a bartender can make an average of $150 per night in tips, and again, this may vary depending on how busy a night it is, your location, the type of establishment and cost of drinks, and more.

It’s very social

If you’re somebody who loves engaging with others, bartending absolutely belongs in your “pro” column. In one shift, you’ll be able to interact with countless different people and keep the conversation flowing.

It’ll keep you moving

Bartending keeps you on your toes – literally. Between serving different customers, making stops to grab inventory or putting away deliveries, as a bartender, you’ll stay moving. This is ideal for those who don’t like the idea of sitting at a desk or some other sedentary activity while they work.

You’ll learn new skills

Whether it’s tricks of the trade, like how to shake the perfect martini, or obtaining your alcohol server certification, you’ll have the opportunity to learn some new skills and knowledge that will serve you better in your career as a bartender. Be sure to keep an eye on the alcohol server certification required in your state to ensure you stay compliant and are legally allowed to serve alcohol.

Now that we’ve examined some of the pros of bartending, it’s time to look at the opposite side of the coin.

Cons of being a bartender:

It can be physically demanding

As an extension of the fact that bartending keeps you moving, it can also require a lot of heavy lifting, high reaching and low bending. For those who may need to avoid that type of physical activity, this job may not be the best for you.

You’ll often work evening and weekends

Yes, while having your days free was a pro on this list, for some, having to work nights and weekends can be a con. If you’re interested in earning more tips, Friday and Saturday nights are typically the most lucrative, so you’ll want to keep that in mind as you decide whether a typical bartender schedule suits you.

Bartender minimum wage varies

As we mentioned above, minimum wage can vary by state. This may mean that you have to be more reliant on tips to drive your bartending income. Many find this notion to be unsettling because of the number of factors that can affect tips.

Managing difficult situations can be a challenge . . . but Userve can help

For the most part, engaging with customers is one of the most fun parts of being a bartender, but difficult situations can arise, especially when it comes to stopping service. The great news is, Userve’s Alcohol Server Course prepares you for how to handle such occurrences like a pro.

Now that you have an understanding of many of the pros and cons of being a bartender, you’re hopefully one step closer to deciding if it’s right for you. And when you’re ready to take your training, look no further than Userve for a comprehensive course that is quick, easy and convenient. For more on the steps to become a bartender, check out our complete bartender job guide

Alcohol Server Training

Get the training you need to earn your Alcohol Server Certificate with no prior experience required.

Find Your Course