How To Become a Bartender: The Story of One Student


How To Become A Bartender – How One Student Doubled His Income In Just 6 Weeks

By B.J. Williams

I have been in the restaurant and bar business for over 12 years. The question I am asked the most, by a landslide, is “how do I become a bartender?” I have been asked this question by

people already in the restaurant business and people with no experience just looking to make some extra money. I give them all the same answer, “Decide that you want to become a bartender and resolve yourself to doing it.”

Becoming a bartender is just a matter of convincing a bar manager that you would be good at the job. Some people have advocated that this requires lying your way into a job. DO NOT do that. Not only is it unnecessary but your lies will be discovered and your job will be at risk. If you want to know how to become a bartender simply look at your current job and life experiences and think about how your skill set can be applied to bartending. To show you what I mean I will walk you through a case study on how a student of mine became a bartender and doubled his take home income, with no previous bartending experience.

The first thing we did was write out all the skills that he had learned and mastered at previous jobs that could relate to bartending. These skills included conflict resolution, customer service, inventory management, upselling, etc. We then wrote a resume, geared specifically for bartending jobs, that featured these skills.

The resume did not include unrelated skills that you often see thrown onto resumes like I can type 65 word a minute or I am proficient in excell. These skills are often put onto a resume as an afterthought or to take up space. What you are

telling the resume reader is that you couldn’t come up with enough job related skills to fill ONE page of type. Leave these unrelated skills off your resume if you want to become a bartender.

They are irrelavant and insult the intelligence of the resume reader.

Second, we created a dynamic and interesting cover letter to accompany the resume. The cover letter told a story about how the student had handled a difficult situation with a customer. Bartenders deal with difficult and/or drunk people. This story showed how to effectively and professionally handle a potentially volatile situation. The story showed my client’s professionalism and personality. Bartenders are expected to show their personality behind the bar. You need to have your personality come across in your cover letter and put it on full display during your interview.

Next we sent the cover letter and resume to 2 banquet staffing agencies in town. *Please note that after hiring dozens of bartenders and hundreds of restaurant employees I know that this cover letter and resume would have gotten him a job as a bartender in a regular restaurant or bar. He, however, wanted to start at a staffing agency, so he could gain some on-the-job experience in a low stress environment. You need to do what is comfortable for you.*

He was offered temp jobs by both staffing agencies and took shifts for both. After 2 weeks he realized the money was better at one and eliminated the other agency. After another 2 weeks he was being requested by one establishment on a regular basis.

My student took his job seriously and used his time at the staffing agency to sharpen his drink making skills. Do not believe the myth that bartenders need to know hundreds of recipes. Once you become a bartender you will be absolutely amazed at how often you make the same drinks. You will need to know about 20-40 drinks, but they are all so similar they are very easy to remember. So he didn’t concentrate on recipes but on technique and efficiency.

After another 2 weeks the establishment that was requesting him so often offered him a part-time job. He now works 2 nights a week and brings home anywhere from $300-$500 working just those 2 nights. He works on Tuesday and Sunday which aren’t your prime time shifts and is still able to double his take home income.

Let’s review. My student had no previous bartending experience. We wrote industry specific cover letters and a resume. He worked a temp job for 6 weeks and now has a part-time job, 2 nights a week, that matches his 40 hour a week full-time job.

He has opted, for now, to keep his full-time job because he gets health care for his family and they have a tuition reimbursement program. So he has one job that provides him with the necessities of life, including college tuition, and another that allows him to have fun, drive a better car and go on vacation.

Do not overestimate your competition or the difficulty in learning how to become a bartender. It really is as easy as deciding that you want to do it and taking the steps to achieve your goal. For a more detailed plan and to sign up for my free newsletter “How to Get a Bartending Job,” go to my website

You can do this, just believe in yourself and take action.

Brian Williams has over 12 years in the Bar, Bartending and Food and Beverage industries. He has helped dozens of people get a bartending job through his Seven Secrets Program. His program and free “Get a Bartending Job” Newsletter are available at