How to Become a Bartender With No Experience: Some Helpful Tips For Your Success

Bartending with zero experience

Are You Suited to become a Bartender?

Firstly, an important element to consider is – when you are out enjoying yourself at the bar, the bartenders are working.

By the nature of the job, the hours are unsociable. Before you become a bartender it is worth doing some research.

Visit a number of bars and watch how the bartender manages the bar and the customers. Visit your chosen bars at different times of day as the customers from early evening or lunch time will probably vary from those who are in the bar near closing time.

Keep a close eye on the bartenders and note how they handle different situations.

With a drunk argumentative customer, how is the situation diffused – could you see yourself being able to handle a similar situation?

How does the bartender deal with several customers who want serving at the same time?

Observing, and imagining yourself in the bartender’s place is one of the best ways to consider if you are suited to become a bartender.


Legal Requirements

Although different states have different laws regarding the age at which you can become a bartender, you will need to attend an alcohol awareness course before you can be legally employed to keep a bar. This course deals with, among other things;

  • You will be taught to understand alcohol laws that apply to your area and your responsibilities as a server of alcohol in relation to the laws.
  • You will need to be able to evaluate intoxication levels of customers and know when (and how to refuse to serve)
  • How to check identification and how to spot a fake ID
  • How best to deal with difficult situations and how to prevent them from escalating and diffuse them


Routes to Getting Your First Bartending Job

There are two basic routes to getting your first bartending job.

First is to attend a bartending school. The prices and duration of these vary quite considerably, and when you graduate you will be better placed to get a bartending job – although at a quite basic level.

The second route is to get a job in a bar doing the basic grunt work and work your way up.

This route will probably take you longer but, on the plus side you are getting paid while you are learning plus you will learn to deal with all aspect of running a bar as well as dealing directly with real customers.


Your First Shift:

Although you may have been on a very comprehensive training course or spent some time working in a bar, all the time that you have spent so far is in getting you ready to learn how to become a professional bartender.

Your first several shifts are likely to be the very simple jobs that actually involve very little customer contact.

Collecting empty glasses and topping up the bottles as they are used, keeping the bar clean. If you want to learn, in most cases people will be willing to put a bit of extra effort in to it if they see that you are keen to help out and eager to learn.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions but save them for a time when that person is not busy.


The Next Phase

Don’t forget that the existing bartenders earn a lot of their income from tips, so they don’t want you upsetting customers and costing them money. As time progresses, and the other staff get confidence in you, you will be allowed to start serving customers. Of course you won’t be as adept and quick as the more seasoned bartenders but, with practice, you will get there. You will always be learning and do not forget that even when you are serving customers, all the other things that need to happen to make a bar run smoothly, also have to be done as well.


Job Mobility

Bartenders tend to move around from job to job a great deal.

This can because you want to gain greater experience or the bar that you are working in has become less popular and there is no need for as many bartenders.

Or it could be that you want to work in a particular type of bar. Some people like very busy, noisy nightclubs, while others prefer the quiet elegance of a 5-star hotel.

Some people’s personal favorite may be a local type bar with regular customers and an informal ambience. Another person may be collecting all this experience to one day be able to open their own bar.


Keeping Up to Date

Whatever reason that you may move on in your bartending career, remember that you can never have too much knowledge.

What may be the fashionable type of drink one moment may be replaced by the latest drink the next. Customers choice of beer and spirits change over a period of time and so do their requirements.

Reading trade publications is a very good way of seeing what the latest trends in bars are and enabling you to be ready to meet them.

A good example is what has happened in the UK over the past 20 years. 20 years ago a pub would have virtually all draft beer, all bitter with a larger or two.

Food was a packet of chips or a pickled egg. There would be no children in there and a few women in the lounge bar. Now bar serve a few draft beers have a wide selection of bottled beers, most serve food and children are allowed in. the ones that resisted the change have closed.



One day, when you are an experienced bartender, you will get a new bartender to work alongside you. Remember the way you were when you first started and the help that you needed that enabled you to become successful and pass along a few of those lessons to the new bartender.


The second article will talk more about the best way to acquire the needed skills and how to advance as a bartender.

>> Click here to proceed to the next article, Bartending 101


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