Now let me be clear before I let you in on the facts about the average bartending school here in America would probably prefer you didn’t know…
There are reputable bartending schools in the world, absolutely, and some actually do a fantastic job of giving their students the confidence to get started in this industry. In fact, if you really want quality, cutting edge training from a school you should hop a flight across the pond and enroll in some of the true top tier bartender training programs abroad in Europe.
But chances are you’re here because you’re States side, so…
Unfortunately in the U.S., many bartending schools don’t fall into this category of “awesomeness”. And despite what they would have you believe, YOU DON’T HAVE TO ATTEND A SCHOOL TO LEARN HOW TO BARTEND OR GET A JOB. Again, at least in the U.S. Europe, again is different.
So why don’t I need to attend a school?
Well for one, it’s not required as there are no bartending license requirements in any state beyond the “responsible serving” certificates. This confuses some people, as there are some states such as Wisconsin that require a responsible serving certification in order to hold a service industry job that serves alcohol to a customer. But again, these aren’t “bartending licenses”, these don’t teach you drink recipes, how to pour, or how to do your job well. What they do cover is proper ID checking procedures, how to deal with drunk patrons and more along those lines.
Secondly and more importantly, I would guess that over 90-95+% of working bartenders have never taken a class in their life.
However, if you found this page then you’re probably interested in, or at least considering enrolling in a bartending school.
Before you fork out your last $500 or so on a-possibly-exagerated-promise of guaranteed exploding tip jars in huge rockstar nightclubs, let me give you some inside facts as a near 20 year working bartender veteran, and someone who also taught at a bartending school for over a year. Because you should know that, things may not be as straight forward as they say.
It usually goes something like this…
You’ve made up your mind that you need some extra cash and are looking for something on the side, maybe something at night so you can pay for school or those damn credit card bills.
Or maybe you need a new job because yours is boring and kinda sucks.
Whatever it was, somewhere along the way you started thinking “hey, bartending would be cool! Fuck, I’m going to try to become a bartender!“, followed very closely with “OK shit, I don’t have any experience… how can I get a bartending job with no experience?”
This is usually when the idea of possibly attending a bartending school starts floating around in your head. From there you decide to go ahead and check into it to see what it’s all about.
(click to next page below)
Jason Shurtz is the Creator and Founder of The Bartending Blueprint website and the BartendingPro YouTube Channel and has over 15 years experience as a bartender and bar manager in some of the busiest bars in Southern California. When he's not working behind the bar, Jason can be found chasing large surf and bottomless powder days around the globe.