Do Bartenders Make Good Money in 2024?

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Managing a bar takes a lot of skills and hard work, and with many bartenders in the profession, there’s always a question of whether they earn well. For a fact, bartenders make good money, but how much of that depends on several factors.

For example, the bar’s popularity, the state of practice, and the number of tips impressed customers left behind. At one time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the average salary of a bartender at just over $30,000 per year, plus up to $175 tips per shift.

Perhaps you’re an aspiring bartender that wants a clear idea of how rewarding the art is. You must understand that your choices vary from country to country and state to state.

Further, the figure above is the average in the United States, and you’d have to put in a good shift to earn that much per year. Moreover, the job is exciting and can make you a lot of money if you’re passionate about it.

Do Bartenders make Good Money?

It has been established that bartenders make good money. Another thing here is how high their figures go. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer or universal earning scale. As you’ve learned, bartender salaries can vary worldwide, between cities in the United States, and within cities themselves.

One thing is clear, though, a bartender’s salary is a combination of two things – wages and tips. While the wages are somewhat easy to predict, the tips often vary greatly. In the United States, recent statistics show that the average base salary of a bartender is $15.55 and $150 tips per day. That translates to an average base salary of $46,000 per year.

With increasing expertise and experience levels, the figure above gets higher. For example, an experience level between three to five years commands an average of about $50,000. More than ten years of experience will see many bartenders earn up to $54,000. That’s good money for an underrated job!

In New York City, the average base salary of a bartender is just over $51,000 plus $200 tips per day, up 9% above the national average. For those in Washington, the average base salary is $54,414 plus $225 tips per day, up 16% above the national average.

Are Tips a Major Source of Bartender’s Income?

If you’re wondering how important tips are to a bartender’s salary, consider this statistic: tips account for 75% and 85% of their total earnings. That’s huge and makes tips the biggest factor in how much bartenders earn annually.

Further, this will vary from bar to bar. You would expect a well-laid-out and popular bar to have many returning visitors, thus leading to more tips.

People paying tips

At some low-class venues, the maximum tip you can expect is $250 for the best of nights. A middle-class venue will considerably increase to about $500 on the best nights.

In the same way, upper-class venues with big hitters visiting can see you earn up to $700 or more. Daily tips make it possible to go home with a lot of money using your skills and working for a proper establishment.

You won’t find bartending as one of the leading millionaire jobs, but your earnings can outstrip the average minimum wage. Besides, tips could cover the lion’s share of your earnings or total salary. Some top-rated bartenders earn over $60,000 per year doing what they love – bartending. You can draw inspiration from that to start this rewarding career.

Also Read:

How much money can you make as a bartender?

Latin American bartender at the bar making cocktails

By now, you have seen glimpses of the factors determining a bartender’s earning potential. Here’s a good look at the essential ones:

1. Location

In the US, New York and Washington DC lead the way with the highest national average for bartender salaries. Cities in these two states make more money than most.

For more clarity, bartenders in Wyoming make an average of $37,674 per year, 20% below the national average. Compare that to $52,882 annually in New Jersey, which is 13% above the national average.

2. Venue

The arena or venue could be an all-bubbly place or one suffering from slow business days. Whatever the case, the venue can increase or negatively affect a bartender’s earning potential. For example, upper-class venues attract richer individuals, often leading to better tips.

3. Shift

Shifting is another aspect to consider. When you work in some venues, things only start heating up at specific times. On the flip side, things could be slow. Most times, your earnings will depend on how busy your shift is.

4. Skills 

Adding your skills to the mix is often the icing on the cake. If you’re so good, finding an upper-class venue will be easy. Drink-pouring skills and knowledge of the art boost your earning potential.

Traits of a Good Bartender

You need certain traits as a bartender. Remember, what you want is an avenue to boost your salary. Three traits you must have:

  1. Know your drinks: That’s why you’re in the venue. No matter the location’s category, you must have adequate knowledge about the drinks being ordered. Imagine a customer saying they want “ice on the rocks,” and you don’t know what that means.
  2. Maintain cleanliness: You’ve probably seen a bartender wiping off the bar’s surface or some bottles with a towel. Drinks can spill, and dirt can accumulate. Good bartenders constantly maintain a clean bar to keep customers comfortable.
  3. Good customer service and situational awareness: Focus is an important part of the business. Good bartenders pay attention to their guests and patrons. They know who to give drinks to and how to read situations.

Tips to Help Bartenders Earn More

cocktail utensils
  1. Get licensed: While this isn’t a requirement in most places, having a license boosts your profile as a bartender. Besides, some states make having one compulsory.
  2. Learn to pour: If you last in this career, you must get the pour right. The right pour translates to delicious drinks and matches the order you receive. From the basic to the complex, getting orders to spot on.
  3. Become a barback:  a barback doesn’t need any prior experience. Pay close attention to details to gain much-needed experience working behind a bar. This is your first stop in bartending.
  4. Learn more about mixology: Firstly, learn how to recreate and pour drinks others have mixed. Next, get inventive with your drinks after you’ve understood different flavors and combinations.
  5. A mentor can help: Experienced bartenders can help you hone your craft. You can trust one to help you become a better bartender. They can put you through some processes and offer quality advice on earning more money.
  6. Have a good disposition: Far from being a prankster, you can be friendly and courteous to customers. What you want are customers comfortable enough to order drinks, speak to you, and hand you a great tip afterward. Go about your business dutifully.
  7. Practice: According to Aristotle on success, “we are what we repeatedly do.” You’ll only get the big bucks when you’re good at bartending. Dedicate to learning everything about the craft to work better and earn higher.


So do bartenders make good money? Yes! Bartending can be lucrative, especially when you’ve developed the necessary skills and experience to make it worthwhile. Your location, venue, shift, and skills are essential if you want to become a bartender who earns well.

You can start as a barback before taking charge of a bar yourself. Moreover, no one started as a professional. That’s why a mentor, enough practice, and a good disposition can help you make positive progress. This way, you get to make high sales and better tips leading to a good salary.

Whether you’re pouring beer or whiskey, charged with handling the cash, or menu engineering, there’s a lot to suggest that the pay is worth it.

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