Bartending is an awesome job, but understand all the challenges with it. Before choosing it as a career, please consider your bartender time.
Standing for 10-12hr shifts at a time with no break is exhausting. And doing that with no customers is even worse.
Your pay comes mainly from tips, so no customers means no money. And that is a big waste of time. You can’t purchase or borrow more, so time is a limited resource that runs out every day.
You Can Make Good Money
The money in bartending is lucrative but may not be consistent. It depends greatly on the establishment you work for, the loyalty of your customer base, and the hours you work. The shifts you get and the customers you retain greatly impact how much you actually earn.
People are more than willing to take your time so you have to figure out what your bartender time is worth to you.
Bartenders and other tipped workers get screwed royally. Only seven states require employers to pay tipped workers the same minimum wage as workers who do not receive tips. The United States federal government requires a wage of at least $2.13 per hour be paid to employees that receive at least $30 per month in tips.
If wages and tips do not equal the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour during any pay period, the employers are supposed to increase cash wages to compensate. The sad reality is a lot of employers don’t do it.
Bartender Time Management
So, you are a bartender and love what you do and enjoy the people you meet and work with. You just hate that you get no benefits or leave. And more importantly, you work many long hours, and not compensated for your time.
What’s even worse is when your employer over schedules the shift. You split tips with other bartenders when so many bartenders didn’t need to be there in the first place. Employers are not on the hook for any hourly costs, so they over schedule bartenders without any repercussions. Maybe if you understand the importance of bartender time, they would manage the schedule better.
Time Isn’t On Your Side
People don’t seem to understand what goes into a bartending shift. The hours of prep work, clean up and dealing with demanding people who have no idea of the importance of bartender time and responsibilities.
A bartender works at 10am but the restaurant does not open until 12pm. The restaurant closes at 11pm but the bartender doesn’t leave until 1am. That is 4 hours of unpaid services. Keep in mind effective bartenders split shifts with ineffective ones and also has to pay the barback. Your tips cover the time that you interact with customers, so 4 hours of free labor never hurt anyone. #sarcasm
Bartending is not all bad. Your income is comprised mostly of tips in cash so there is no way for the government to know how much you received. That means you get free money with cash tips. Don’t tell the IRS that. #sarcasm
Bartending is easy to get into and the job is fun. The work schedules are flexible, and you get to meet some great people. It’s not all bad but it could be a lot better.
Time is Money
No matter how you look at it, there are only 24 hours in a day. Realize that money isn’t the most important resource, time is. Money comes and goes and you can make it through a variety of resources. But once time is gone, it’s gone for good. If a bartender spends 12 of those 24 hours working at the establishment, there should be compensated for your time.
A good bartender consistently brings in the regulars and wears company apparel. They promote the establishment, set the mood, and make sure everyone has a good time. There is a price to pay for that and it ain’t just in tips.