The following article is based on a survey I did four years ago in which I asked 47 bar owners and managers what they thought about bartending school and how relevant they are to finding a bartending job.
And without my knowledge, the results of this post showed up in a Consumer Affairs article online, which I was a bit shocked by, as Consumer Affairs of course is one of the biggest online websites out there. Who would have thunk it? You can read the article here:
If you want to watch an updated video on what I think of bartending schools today, check it out here.
As I take on this ever-increasing (and quite frankly, unexpected) role of helping people obtain a bartending job, I find that people can’t let go of the idea that going to bartending school is the answer to all of their prayers.
Despite my warnings and admonishments and downright lobbying against bartending schools, I receive weekly and daily emails from people asking me, “Should I go to bartending school?”
And let me be clear about something: paying for a training course is a GOOD thing if it helps lead you to the job you are going after. I simply have a problem with how they leave students hung out to dry after teaching them the skills and history of alcohol.
So let’s answer your question right here. Or more specifically, let’s allow these 47 managers to answer the question right here. I put all my biases and preconceptions to the side and let the professionals answer this question. I hit the pavement and did some research to find out how helpful bartending schools really are.
The first thing I did was track down all the bar managers and owners that I know (and there’s a lot, over 40 of them), the same managers and owners I interviewed when I wrote my book to help people find a bartending job.
The same bar managers and owners who told me exactly what they look for when hiring a bartender and what answers they want to hear in an interview.
It was time-consuming, but I eventually contacted them all and presented them with a questionnaire, and I asked them to be honest so that it would be helpful to all of you reading this.
Here are the questions I asked 47 bar managers and owners and the results of that survey:
1. How important is it to you that someone you’re hiring went to bartending school?
A) Very important
B) Somewhat important
C) I could go either way
D) Not important at all
E) I will not hire someone who went to bartending school
Results: A = 0; B = 1; C = 18; D = 23; E = 5
Summary: 46 of the 47 bar managers/owners could care less or do not think bartending schools help at all.
2. When someone mentions the term “bartending school”, what comes to mind?
A) I wish all of my bartenders would have attended bartending school
B) I have no real feeling either way
C) What a joke
D) I will crumple up any resume with the words “bartending school” on it
Results: A = 0; B = 21; C = 21; D = 5
Summary: Again, no one wishes they could hire bartending school graduates. Waste of time, and more importantly, money.
3. In all your years in the business, how many bartending schools have contacted you about helping their graduates land a job as a bartender?
D) More than 10
Results: A = 47; B = 0; C = 0; D = 0
Summary: WOW! What helpful schools!
4. As a bar manager/owner, would you recommend bartending school to students looking to get a bartending job?
Results: A = 0; B = 39; C = 8
Summary: That’s all you really need to know right there, from the professionals who hire you. 0% yes’s, 82% no’s, and 18% who are indifferent.
Here it is in a nutshell: Most Bartending schools and online courses are a WASTE of your time and money. They charge you $50 – $1,000, but it’s not the amount of money they charge. Hell, colleges costs $130,000 for 4 years and half the time it leads to a job that makes less than bartnders.
But these schools and courses teach you bartending skills and that’s it.
And remember this: bartending isn’t molecular biology. Memorizing drink recipes, pouring liquid into a glass at the right proportions, pouring beer and wine, these are all simple tasks that bartending schools have depicted as impossibilities without their help. They are taking advantage of an industry that is highly coveted, and they are raking in the dough because of it.
Do you really want to succeed? Make a plan. Bartending schools WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET YOU A BARTENDING JOB!!! Creating goals and a plan and a system for finding a job is where the schools and most people looking for a job fail.
Best of luck to you. If you have any further questions or need any advice along the way, send me an email and I’ll respond as quickly as I can: Dave@TheRealBarman.com. And if you want to learn more about How to Become a Bartender by following an actual plan CLICK HERE.
I do wish you all the best and if you ever come into my bar, let me know that you found me on my blog and I’ll buy you a drink.
Happy job hunting, and cheers until next time.