Officially the national average annual salary of a bartender is $25,000.00.
You can do better than that, because most bartenders do.
I know that there are bartenders making 2 to 4 times that amount.
How much do bartenders make?
That’s right $50,000 to $100,000 a year, sometimes even more.
But to really understand why, we need need to take a closer look.
Let’s be clear, the $25,000 per year number is what the government
sees as reported income.
That’s the tax return income claimed by bartenders on average.
But guess what, bartenders almost never claim all of their tips as income.
Especially cash. Cash tips can’t be tracked like credit card tips.
So if a bartender says that they’re making $40,000 per year on paper,
you can be sure that they’re making a lot more than that.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has maps for us to see where
the most bartending money is made in the U.S.
Location, Location, Location
As you can see from the map location can make a difference.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t make lots of money where you are.
Cost of living is a factor and where you live and work.
There are at least 3 spots that show $24,ooo / year and I know bartenders
that are making $80,000+ in those areas.
They also work in small bars that are out of the city limits. In the
Starting out, I think it’s safe to say that a new bartender will make about
$2000 dollars a month. Lets take a look at some of the things that will
We already mentioned location, but that also includes busy parts of your
town or city.
Back in the 90’s I knew someone that went out to Las Vegas
to bartend. He wasn’t getting hired on the strip and almost came back home.
Then he tried some places off the strip and got hired at a great bar.
What made that bar so great was most of the customers were in the bar
and restaurant business. Those people tip like mad, especially when they like
He was making more money than bartenders in some of the big casinos.
He only worked 4 shifts a week.
What Shift You Work
Surprisingly Friday and Saturdays may not be the best money nights.
In some bars there’s a ton of volume on the weekends, but you may have
to split tips with more people. Other bartenders, bar-backs, people checking IDs.
Sometimes for the amount of work that’s needed on weekends, and clean up,
the weeknights can do just as well or better.
As a new bartender you will probably be put on the slower shifts, to
see how well you do working behind the bar and how you deal with customers.
Plus you need to learn how things work. The cash register, where things are
stored, so that you can restock the bar etc…
Slow shifts can make money. You just need to be attentive and make sure
you move just as fast as you would on a busy shift, like when your serving
drink, getting ice, restocking, cleaning.
When you can engage customers socially and hustle, people tip more.
They see you doing a great job, taking care of business and, of course,
taking care of them.
More Sales, More Tips… Sometimes
The idea is, the more you sell, the more you get tipped.
That’s usually true, but what if you sold the same amount and made more money.
An O.K. bartender or one starting out, might make 15% of their sales.
That means that if you sell $1000 in goods you’ll get $150 in tips.
How about selling $1000, the same amount of work, and getting
$250. You raised your tip percentage from 15% to 25%.
The way to do that is getting better at bartending.
How do you get better and make more money?
- Always greet the customers.
- Always say goodbye.
- ALWAYS say Thank you.
- If you can’t get to them immediately let them know that you see them.
- Repeat their order back, out loud. This helps eliminate errors.
- Always scan the bar, even when having a conversation. Head on a swivel.
- Keep things clean and stocked at all times.
- Stay off your phone, unless it’s the boss.
Those 7 simple steps will get you another 5% or more in tips.
How much do bartenders make?
It’s up to the bartender. That’s you.
Now we need to get you started towards
- $2000 – $4000 a month
- Finding a job
- Getting hired
- Learning the skills needed
This site is here to help you get there.
Sign up for all the information you need to start your successful bartending career.