How Do I Become a Bartender Without Going to a Bartending School?

For most, bartending is as much a hobby as a means of income. They enjoy the job and are compensated well for doing it. But those who opt to learn the art don’t always have the time and the expenses that are required to complete a bartending school. Which leads to one of the most common questions we get here at BartenderMixed:

Do I have to go to bartending school if I want to become a bartender?

Regardless of whether you’re looking at a fulltime or a part-time career, attending a bartending course might not be feasible. The reasons for this are:

A. Most bartending courses are quite expensive. Observing the recent demand for this profession and the interest of people in such a course, private companies are offering bartending courses at inflated prices.

B. If you have a full time education, a day job, or an even moderately busy lifestyle, you’ll find it impossible to regularly attend the courses set hours. So, what’s the solution to our original question?

The best solution is to follow Beginning Bartending Lessons to learn the basics. Once you feel you’ve read through and understood the basic terminology and drinks, head to a nearby bar to observe and learn. Frequent various pubs and popular establishments that employ bartenders to see firsthand the different responsibilities you will be performing. Most who are hired in the profession are quite friendly and are ready to impart knowledge to prospective mixologists. Take advantage of these opportunities to ask questions and learn as much as you can. If you buy a few drinks and provide a tip, this process usually goes over quite smooth.

Take advantage of any situation where you can get experience. Bartend for a friend’s party, find catering gigs online, reach out to the public and acquire real-world practice.

Since you won’t be paying for training, offer your services for free, especially in packed places that can always use an extra hand. Most of your education will come from your first few days of work. Put these initial days behind you by volunteering your time. You might not get the same exact training as a bartending school, but you certainly won’t be paying a dime for real behind the bar experience which if you don’t know by now is much more beneficial.

I have also heard of people working for free at the bar they want to work for with the hopes of getting hired. It has worked more than once, but since I have no experience in the area I will refrain from saying that I do or do not support the idea. What I like about the idea is that you are giving the manager a first hand look at your bar skill and work ethic. You are getting your foot in the door while learning experience for a better job.

After you have studied the Beginning Bartending Lessons and acquired enough experience to comfortably mix your first few drinks, prepare yourself for face to face time with the manager. The 5 Things You Should Do Before Applying for a Bartending Position has key information to follow to get ready for your interview.

If all else fails, spend $50-$100 on a conventional online bartending course. Though some don’t stand the test of time or true bartending requirements, they add a lot of value to what you can find for free out there.


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