Ballpark Estimate: $250 to $500
Being a bartender may look easy, but before you pour yourself into this job, it’s a good idea to get some training on making the latest drinks and keeping customers happy. Investing in bartending school can lead to a very enjoyable and lucrative career.
For every bartender job that’s available, you may have to compete with other qualified candidates. Therefore, it’s important to have some strengths that set you apart from others to help you to land the position you want. That’s where bartending school can make a big difference. You can learn how to excel in the bartending world and to make a good living, full or part-time in a job that allows you to exercise your social skills while you earn money to pay some extra bills.
Weighing Your Investment
If you’re hesitant about investing in bartending school, it can help to put the costs into perspective. Most experts say that that you’ll probably make your tuition back in your first few nights on the job. With the economy continuing to falter and record numbers of people out of work, becoming a trained bartender can ensure that you’ll always have something to fall back on. In fact, the majority of people who attend bartending school are professionals with full-time jobs who want to learn a new and lucrative skill.
Skills You Will Need
You may think that one of the advantages to attending bartending school in person is that it provides a chance to sample the drinks you’ll be making. However, while you may learn how to make drinks at a mock bar setting, most bartending schools typically use colored water that doesn’t contain alcohol so you don’t really get to taste your concoctions. While this may disappoint you, it also means your head will be clear for getting the most out of the bartending classes.
What You Will Learn
Can you recommend the best wine and food pairings? Do you know the ingredients for all of the obscure drinks and newest up-and-coming concoctions? Can you pour a beer with the perfect head? Do you know how to let wine breathe?
Mixing up a good drink is more than knowing the right ingredients to combine together. It also requires achieving just the right proportions, effectively satisfying multiple people who are clambering for your attention at the same time, and also building rapport with customers to keep them coming back to your establishment.
Other things you can get out of bartender school include learning how to open and close the bar, getting advice on how to keep it running smoothly during busy demanding times, mastering the art of free pouring, learning how to select the right glassware, understanding how to be responsive to customers’ needs and ensuring proper sanitization.
While you can learn all of this on the job if you can get a restaurant to take a chance on you, getting a good foundation of basic bartending skills before you begin can help you to excel in the position and also earn better tips. In addition, many bartender schools offer career placement as well, so your investment in bartender school may help you land your first job.
How to Find
To find a credible bartender school, you can ask people you know about bartending schools they have heard good things about. You can also check with local restaurants and bars and ask if they have recommendations for bartending schools in your area or check with your state restaurant association for referrals. You can look to the many online bartending resources that will provide links to some of the schools in your area. Some places to start your search include World Bartending Schools, Professional Bartending Schools of America, USA Bartending School, and Best Bartending Schools. If there are no bartender schools enough for you to attend conveniently, you can also find online bartender programs through places like Bartend.com, Bartending.com, and Nexgen Bartending.
What to Look For
Before you commit to any bartending school, you’ll need to ensure that it’s a legitimate place of business. Therefore, you should do a search for student reviews for the school and also check with the Better Business Bureau. You’ll also want to make sure any bartending school you’re considering offers a certification training on safe serving procedures such as the TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) program and the ServSafe program. These programs, and others like them, are designed to help bartenders to prevent common problems such as underage drinking and drinking and driving. Some programs include such bartender training and certification as part of their overall educational offerings with no extra charge, while other bartender programs might require a cost of up to $50 for this certification. Keep in mind that many employers will receive discounted liability insurance if their bartenders are trained in safe serving techniques, so having this type of certification can make it much easier to get a good job.
What It Costs
What you can expect to spend on bartending school depends on where you live and what type of class you intend to take, but in general, you can expect a cost between $250 to $500 for many local two-week bartender training classes. This price usually includes bartender books and supplies, and in some cases, it also includes the TIPS Safe Serve program or similar efforts. (If you pay for this TIPS certification separately, it can cost up to $50.) If you plan to work at a high-end restaurant and need more bartender training on wine pairing and serving etiquette that goes beyond the basics you get in a general bartender course, you may want a more in-depth bartending education, which can cost you as much as $1,000.
So a good bartending school will cost for between $250 and $500 depending on exactly what you learn. (Note that materials and certification may be an extra cost, depending on the school.)
A Convenient Alternative
If time and money are limited and you can’t make a commitment to taking a bartender course right now but want some bartending training, you can also do an online course. Online bartending training starts at a cost of $25 and can go up to$200.
A Final Note
You can decide to skip the bartender school and simply learn as you work if you can find a restaurant manager willing to hire and train you to his or her specifications, since having official bartending training is not a requirement for many restaurants. However, having safe alcohol serving certification is often mandatory. In addition, bartending school can also give you some added confidence to help you be more successful on the job.