Bartenders make alcoholic drinks that are served to patrons in bars, restaurants, cocktail lounges and hotels, among other areas. No formal education is required, since most learn their trade on the job, but courses in bartending are available at some vocational schools. Bartenders must be at least 21 years old, though many employers prefer those who are 25 or older. Part-time workers work under 40 hours a week and are paid by the hour.
Part-time bartenders are on their feet for long hours, and must be able to lift heavy cases and kegs. They typically work until late into the night, and on weekends and some holidays. Surroundings can range from parties at private homes to bars in luxury hotels to neighborhood watering holes. As of May 2009, the median salary of part-time bartenders was $8.82 per hour, with a range of $7.33 to $15.11. These figures come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The biggest employers of part-time bartenders are full-service restaurants, with almost 40 percent of the available 492,480 jobs. They paid a mean $10.43 per hour. They were followed by drinking places that served alcoholic beverages, with 30 percent of the jobs, paying a mean $9.37 per hour. The highest-paying employers were community care facilities for the elderly, with mean wages at $12.93 per hour, but for 40 positions. Also among the top five for pay were traveler accommodations, with means at $12.22 per hour. They were also among the top five for employment, with 7 percent of the total jobs.
The state with the highest pay for part-time bartenders was Hawaii, where a high cost of living pushed hourly means to $13.84 for 3,090 jobs. Also in the top five list for compensation was Massachusetts, with lower means at $12.60 per hour, but more employment with 14,340 jobs. As for cities, Charlottesville, Virginia, had the highest means at $14.66 per hour for 250 jobs. Also among the top five was Boston, with lower means of $14.15 per hour, but higher employment at 6,160 positions.
The bureau sees jobs for bartenders increasing at 8 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is about average for all jobs. This is primarily because of a growing population that requires this service. Competition will be strongest in expensive restaurants, where potential tips are the highest. Employment may be affected by the declining use of alcohol outside the home. In establishments that are big enough to have several bartenders, such as hotels and resorts, advancement can lead to becoming the head bartender. Those with strong business skills can also become wine stewards or beverage managers.