Being a bartender has its perks. Being around different people daily, pouring cocktails, and witnessing the most popular events a TV can display during your work shift.
So, what’s the catch?
Being around that much alcohol and not being able to drink it. Not a big deal if you’re in for the money.
Bartending is an attractive job and has a pretty decent hire rate, as most restaurants, hotels, or casinos need one.
But how lucrative is this job? After all, bartenders make their base salary and get favored by customers through tips. How much do bartenders make, after all?
Well, get yourself comfortable because whether you’re a city bartender or a bar/pub owner trying to understand how your tipping stacks up against the average, you’re about to find out.
In this post, we’ll go through:
- What’s the base salary of an average bartender?
- How much does a bartender make each night?
- What is the average range for tips as a bartender?
- And the average salary of a bartender with tips included.
Let’s get started.
What Is the Average Bartender Salary?
We looked through the most popular job search engines and job post websites and found the average bartender’s pay per hour is $12.91. And the average salary of a bartender is $24,787.20 a year. Keep in mind that these bartender salary averages don’t include tips.
Here are the bartender salary averages per hour, week, month, and year:
Of course, and as is the case in most things in life, your wage depends on other factors like:
- The state you live in
- Years of experience
- Gender, unfortunately
Let’s break down the averages on each one.
What Is the Bartender’s Hourly Wage per State?
The minimum wage and average salary for jobs vary based on the state in the US. For average bartender pay, some states pay an average wage of as little as $10/hr and as much as $17/hr.
Indeed created a map to show how much bartenders earn by state according to their average ($14.07/hr).
As you can see, the states that pay the most to bartenders are New Hampshire, with $17.72/hr, and Massachusetts, with $17.58/hr. While the lowest paying rates for bartenders are in Mississippi at $10.41/hr.
How Much Do Bartenders Earn Based on Their Experience?
Again, Indeed has the answer to this:
|Years of experience
|Less than 1 year
|1 to 2 years
|3 to 5 years
|6 to 9 years
|More than 10 years
Although with some casinos, your base bartender’s salary is going to be the same as a fellow bartender with fewer years of experience. The difference between you two would be the seniority.
For example, if Jerry has been bartending for five years in X company, and you just started there but have nine years of experience, you will have the same base salary. But as Jerry was working at X first, he would have more benefits, like the best shifts or hours.
How Much Do Bartenders Make by Gender?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bartender men earned $583 per week in 2021. In comparison, bartender women earned $477 per week.
This translates into the following income per week, month, and year:
And it means that a bartender woman earns 81.82% of what a bartender man makes in annual wages. This fact alludes to the persistent gender wage gap in labor statistics in which, on average, women earn about 84% of what men earn. However, the hourly wage for all genders has gone up over time.
Female bartenders are making more hourly today than they have ever made before.
Now that’s covered, and before you think of starting a new life in New Hampshire — let’s talk about what matters most to a bartender. Tips.
How Much Do Bartenders Make in Tips a Night?
According to Indeed, bartenders make an average of $150 a night in tips.
Were you expecting more?
You must have heard those stories about bartenders making $1,000 or more in a shift. Yeah, they’re true, but these are high-end stories. The reality is that bartenders earn $50 a night, some $300, and then there’s the $1,800 good nights.
This all has an explanation, and here comes the d-word again; it depends. There will be a big difference in tip wages on weeknights versus weekends and slow nights versus busier ones.
So, what or where should you aim to have an excellent bartending career? Or to know how tipping is going on in your business?
Average Bartender Tip Range
Let’s get into the details of how much bartenders earn when it comes to tips.
Thrillist turned to mixologists, bartenders, and drink directors to learn what a decent tip meant for them. And it turns out that the $1 per drink rule is a little outdated. Now, it’s expected to get between 18% - 20% of the final bill — even 20% per drink.
The logic goes like this:
- $1/drink when the bartender serves more drinks that require little effort (like beer and shots)
- $2 - $4/drink when these are elaborate cocktails
- 18% - 20% of the final bill when the service is good
- Over 20% when the service is exceptional
But, and here we go again, these rates can change according to:
- State — because every state has its own tipping culture
- Venue or type of restaurant (establishment) — the area you work at matters
- And how good of a bartender you are
That last one also applies to how friendly you are with customers. And let’s be honest, as a general rule, you’re in the hospitality industry, so being friendly is required.
Tipping per State
Moneypenny says the standard tipping percentage for service is 15% in the states. And using this information, they researched which states tip the best and worst. Here are the results:
This can give you an idea of how much you can get or how willing clients are to provide you with tips. New Hampshire is the state where most bartenders would like to make a living. And, in this case, Idaho is the worst tipping state.
The thing is, even the worst-paying states tip more than the standard. So, cheers to those patrons that take care of their bartenders!
Tipping by Venue or Type of Establishment
The establishment you work at matters because of prices and the volume of visitors.
If you work at a popular place where a lot of people go on the weekends, you can get $1 or $2 per person. So, if you serve 100 drinks on your shift, that’s at least $100.
On the other hand, if the drink prices are high, and your clientele gives you tips according to the bill, that’s 18% or 20% of a hefty bill that goes into your pockets.
Here are some tipping cases according to a discussion on Quora:
- Tipping on lower-class bars and establishments: These include dive bars, neighborhood pubs, and low-key or laid-back bars. As these types of establishments are usually visited for having cheap drinks, it usually means you won’t make 20% of the bill.
- Tipping on middle-class bars and establishments: These include popular restaurants, hotels, sports bars, and casinos. Here’s where the $150 average on tip applies, or $300 on a good night (according to a Las Vegas casino bartender).
- Tipping on high-class bars and establishments: These include luxury casinos, hotels, upper-class bars, or fine-dining restaurants. The kind of place you want to be in, as here’s where money is made. Tips can be between $400 and $1,400 the day/night.
Also, remember that your tips can skyrocket on days with events like parties, sports matches, the right holidays, or seasonality. Winter months can mean fewer people on weekday evenings or Saturday nights, but this is not necessarily the case in different states where it’s warm year-round. Also, generally speaking, big cities like San Francisco will have more traveling visitors than small-town bars.
Which Gender Gets Tipped More?
Academic studies show that clientele tips better to a server of the opposite sex.
It’s no surprise men are the ones who most frequent a bar or a social gathering where there is alcohol. So, naturally, women get more tips.
Also, the study revealed male customers tip the most compared to female customers — when the server is a woman. And the tipping from male customers was even more affected by the attractiveness of a server of the opposite sex.
Do Better Bartenders Get More Tips?
Receiving tips is one of the things you can control about your earnings when you’re a bartender. Now, you may ask, but how do I know if I’m a good bartender? Is it how I talk to patrons? How many cocktails do I know? Do I have to tell a story about every drink?
Sharing stories would be a nice plus, and some clients would love it. But the natural way of measuring a good bartender is by combining people skills, knowledge about mixology, and speed.
If you have people skills, patrons are going to like you more. They may even give you more money than a standard tip and can become regulars to come to talk to you. Take care of that kind of customer.
About how many different cocktails you can make — anyone can memorize that, so that’s standard. But speed means you’re experienced and can attend a busy bar. Bartending employers love quick service, so they’ll schedule you on busy shifts. And the more alcohol you serve, the more tips you get.
Do Bartenders Make Good Money?
Yes, bartenders make good money. But then, if that’s true, how much do bartenders earn in a year?
On average, a bartender’s salary with tips is $60,787.20 per year. This assumes they make $12.91/hr on wage and $150/shift on tips. The median earnings for an American in 2021 is $51,480/year, which means any amount above that is an excellent average salary.
But what if I don’t like people and just want to make a living?
As a restaurant owner, you see how some of your bartenders barely make tips?
Tip pooling in the US is a great way for restaurants to ensure that bartenders get tips regardless of the clientele they encounter.
This practice consists of all the bartenders putting their tips in a pot. Then the money in the pool is divided between the employees in a way defined by the establishment.
How To Get More Tips
With all these rates, numbers, and percentages, you may already know how much you should make as a bartender, regardless of location.
This career can be ridiculously lucrative and just enough to cover bills. But now that you’re equipped with all this knowledge, you can start aiming higher.
As a side note, it’s good to put effort into giving the best service to clients so you can get paid through tips. But remember, there’s a limit to that. You’re a person, and you deserve as much respect as the people you serve drinks to.
If you’re a restaurant owner, now you have an overview of how tipping is going in your establishment. And some tips on how you can help your drink masters meet their tip goals.
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