How Much Do Bartenders Make?

It seems there are a lot of myths out there concerning a bartender salary. Some people tend to think bartenders make huge amounts of money, others swear the bartender pay isn’t quite that great. If you are wondering just how much money bartenders do make, here’s some information on the subject you might appreciate.

Being a bartender comes with huge responsibility. A bartender is somewhat a multitasking professional who is responsible for the entire bar area. This includes serving customers, generating sales, maximizing profit, entertaining the crowd and handling the cash register.

Many people respect the bartending profession and associate it with glamorous parties, sophisticated events, fun nightlife and interaction with interesting people. Last but not least, everyone knows bartenders receive tips and these tips are a big part of a bartender’s income.

Due to this knowledge, there are many stories and myths circulating on the internet regarding the financial position of a bartender. I have read stories about student bartenders working part-time who are supposedly making more than an average CEO. I have also read horror stories of bartenders who work for low wages and make no tips whatsoever.

Are these stories true and how much can you really make working as a bartender? Is it really that variable and uncertain? How could someone interested in a career in bartending really know what’s ahead?

Basic income

Let’s start discussing the basics. Yes, the bartender income is variable. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the average bartender salary is $7.42 per hour. This includes the tips received from customers. This means a bartender working an 8 hour shift will make $59.36 per day, a weekly income of $296.80 for five nights of work and a monthly income of $1286.13. But are these numbers accurate?

As mentioned, these are average numbers and include all types of bartenders: the good ones and the bad ones, those working at smaller bars where there’s too little people to generate an additional income from tips and those who lack proper education or people skills to maximize their own income.

I’m not so sure whether the US Bureau of Labor Statistics separated the salaries of bartenders and waiters, but from what they are reporting my guess would be no. My personal experience is that a good bartender can make anywhere between $15 and $30 per hour, depending on the establishment. Also, many bartenders I know leave with tips as high as $200 or have days when they make $100 per hour.

The key factor to understanding the amount of money a bartender can make is understanding two very important things: venue and people skills. Let’s focus on these aspects in order to understand the salary potential of the bartender profession.


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