Bartenders are food and beverage service workers who prepare and serve alcoholic and sometimes non-alcoholic drinks. They may take a drink order directly from a customer or through a member of the establishment's wait staff. Bartenders should have a good knowledge of common drinks, a familiarity with a wide variety of more exotic drinks, and the flair and innovation to respond to suggestions or requests from customers. Most bartenders are paid an hourly wage and receive tips. A bartender's average income per night is determined by multiplying the average hourly pay rate by eight hours, according to the formula used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The mean hourly wage, including reported tips, for bartenders at all levels of experience, in all types of employment establishments across the United States, was $10.46 as of May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the bottom 10th percentile of earners, the wages were $7.89 per hour, or $63.12 per night. At the top 90th percentile of bartenders, wages were $15.76 per hour, or $126.08 per night.
More bartenders worked in California than in any other state as of May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean hourly wage, including tips, for bartenders who worked in California was $11.30. The mean nightly income for California-based bartenders was $90.40. Bartenders who worked in Arkansas earned near the the low end of the national scale, at $8.58 per hour, or $68.64 per night. Bartenders who worked in Hawaii earned the highest mean hourly income at $16.21, or $129.68 per night.
Bartenders who work in major metropolitan areas tend to earn higher wages than those who work in smaller towns and rural communities. Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont offered a nightly wage of $15.40 an hour, or $123.20 per night.In the high-paying non-metropolitan area of Hawaii-Maui-Kuai,however, a bartender took home an average of $19.95 an hour, or $159.60.
Full-service restaurants provided employment for more bartenders than any other industry as of May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bartenders who worked in full-service restaurants earned a mean hourly wage, including tips, of $10.73 or $85.84 per night. Drinking establishments provided another significant employment opportunity for bartenders. Bartenders who worked in drinking establishments earned mean incomes of $9.75 per hour or $78.00 per night.