Career Advice

Becoming a Bartender: 3 Steps Towards Getting the Job!

By: Ranked AI
Sep 17, 2021 • 2 min read

Becoming a Bartender: 3 Steps Towards Getting the Job!

There is something enchanting about professionals in the food and beverage industry. Now and again, you might catch yourself admiring the grace and skill it takes to serve food and drinks well and with a great personality. 

Whether it’s a barista at your local coffee shop, a chef in a food truck, or a bartender at your favorite bar, everyone has probably had the experience of admiring an immensely graceful employee. It’s common for people to stare in awe at the simple yet skillful dance that servers do.

Bartending is probably one of the common jobs that people fantasize about. In the past, it was seen more as a temporary job—a stepping stone to something better. But now, there are plenty of examples of people who have made careers out of bartending. The food and beverage industry has been booming with more and more passionate people over the years. So, it’s no surprise that people turn their taste for flair and love of alcohol into a career. 

But what exactly does it take to be a bartender? It might not be as complicated as you think. 

man in white dress shirt holding clear drinking glass

1. Get a Bartending License

Strictly speaking, step 1 isn’t an explicit requirement. Some states don’t require a bartending license, but it does serve to be a little bit above the rest. 

It certainly shows a level of competency and dedication. Your license can make the difference between getting hired or passed on. To receive a license, you have to be of age and meet state or local requirements. 

Some topics that you’ll are the following:

  • Knowledge of laws and penalties regarding minors
  • Identifying the stages of intoxication in customers
  • How to handle and prevent disturbances

2. Start as a Barback

Most people, especially the ones intending to become bartenders, start as a barback. Now, step 2 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for the bartending job. But for beginners, this is the best way to get your foot in the door and pick up some valuable skills and lessons. 

Being a barback entails doing a lot of manual work—generally carrying things, restocking, cleaning, and so on. You have to be willing and patient to take on these tasks because, as a barback, you’re also the bartender’s assistant. You’ll likely be helping to make some of the drinks yourself. The insight and understanding you gain from your experience will be valuable in your career in the F&B industry.

Here are some things you should do in your time as a barback:

  • As you stock beer and liquor for the bar, make a point to learn the different brand names
  • Watch the bartender as they make cocktails and make a note of the most popular drinks
  • Get comfortable behind the bar and helping with customer requests
  • Memorize bartending terms
  • Learn when to prepare for the busy rushes and stock up accordingly
  • Become familiar with the different types of barware and garnishes
  • Provide support for your bartenders, and in return, they may teach you how to bartend

3. Gain Experience

And finally, the most important thing is to gain experience. Aside from all the training and certificates you can get, the most valuable thing you can offer is experience. There’s a difference between making good drinks on your own and making good drinks in front of people, during a rush, and simultaneously engaging them nicely. 


The rules on making it as a bartender are pretty similar to other jobs in different industries. You have to start at the beginning and work your way up to becoming a bartender. You need to remember that experience is one of the most valuable things for any F&B professional. There will always be something new to learn—a recipe, technique, skill, and more. But before that, you need to have a solid foundation. From there, you can build yourself up to become a great bartender.

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