Bartending has reached a record level of popularity since the movie Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise, and the long-running Cheers television series have shown that a bartending career offers excitement, challenge and good clean fun.
Bars are always busy. People enjoy the bar atmosphere when they are celebrating good times, or to lift their spirits during the bad times. With this in mind, bartending has been referred to as a "recession-proof" career. A career in bartending offers so many choices -- so many built-in-benefits -- that hundreds of people are giving up traditional careers, or augmenting their income with part-time bartending work.
Bartending salaries vary by region, but a bartender in today's economy can expect to earn a salary that is above that of most entry level college grads. In addition, most of these entry-level positions with large corporations require more extensive (and expensive!) education and entail working many more hours each week. In addition, many larger bars and restaurants offer full benefits for employees, and bartenders working for major hotels or airlines often receive additional perks like greatly reduced lodging and air fare.
Typically, a bartender earns a low hourly salary of $5.00 to $8.00 per hour, plus tips. Tips are where a bartender earns the majority of their income. Studies have shown that a bartender's tips should be equal to 2 to 4 times their hourly salary. As an example, if a bartender earns $6.00 an hour base pay, their tips should average out to $12.00 to $18.00 an hour in additional income. A bartender in an average bar will typically earn $15.00 $30.00 an hour between their wages and tips. A bartender in a high volume establishment or resort area can earn $50,000 to $75.000 per year. A bartender is required by law to claim their tips as income. The establishment withholds taxes on these tips just like normal income, so a bartender should not owe money at the end of the year if they claim the correct withholding exemptions. The secret to making the most money as a bartender is to work in a bar that is busy, serve as many drinks as you can while providing good service, and get the best shifts by being polite, professional, reliable and honest.