The #1 question I have been asked throughout my career by people who want to become a bartender and who are considering signing up for TheRealBarcourse is: “Should I go to bartending school?”
Followed by the second most asked question: “How do I choose the right one?”
Just to make things clear, I am not anti-bartending school as long as you can find one that does it right. Problem is, I have yet to find many that qualify. In fact, I have yet to find one that does it right from beginning to end, which is why I created TheRealBarCourse. If you want more details, CLICK HERE.
However, each little squirrel must find his/her own way, so when you’re out there researching, here are 7 things you should consider when choosing the right bartending school or course for you.
1. THE COST
We all know this is the first question on everyone’s mind, so let’s get right to it. As with anything you purchase, you should consider if what you’re buying is worth the cost, and with bartending schools and courses, I wouldn’t look at anything that’s more than $250. They aren’t any better than anything else out there. With that said, I am highly amused by the people who drop $150 on a pair of basketball shoes or $400 on a new car stereo without blinking an eye, but when an opportunity arises to invest in themselves to make their lives better, they tremble at the thought of spending a few hundred dollars even when it will lead them to a $60,000 – $70,000 per year job. Stop thinking and living a small life. Consider the cost, but focus on the quality.
2. THE CURRICULUM
Although I listed the cost question first, it’s only because I know it’s first on everyone’s mind, but this is where you’re inner Sherlock Holmes should don his magnifying glass and start investigating. And I know all of you are blinded by the skills part of it. How to pour, how to shake, how to stir, etc, etc, but this is simple shit, believe me. Not that you don’t have to learn it, but it’s the easiest part to teach. You need to find out what they teach beyond the basic skills and drink memorizing techniques, such as: do they help with cover letter and resume creation (very important), do they help with interview tips and what the interview questions will be (even more important), and do they provide a plan for you to go out and land the job (MOST important). Many schools and courses promise “job placement assistance” but what in the hell does that mean exactly? You need to find out details about what that entails and then decide if they have an EXTENSIVE program to help you get a job.
3. ONLINE COURSE OR PHYSICAL LOCATION?
These are two very different. Brick and mortar bartending schools are often more expensive because they have to rent the building and pay bartenders to teach you how to make drinks. The advantage is that they do usually have a simulated bar where you can practice. This is very cool, but also a bit overrated. There is no difference practicing pouring at a kitchen counter than there is pouring at a bar. Online courses, on the other hand, allow you to move at your own pace. Finish in three days or take 30 days. The flexibility is a big advantage, not to mention no traveling to the school every day. The main difference is that you have to discipline yourself to practice because there is no instructor. But again, what matters most is the course CONTENT, not the venue.
4. SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR ONE THAT OFFERS AN “ACCREDITED” LICENSE?
NO! NO NO NO NO NO! This is a mirage that bartending schools use to tempt you into signing up for their course. I’ve stated it several times and I will state it again. Bartending licenses and certificates are WORTHLESS. The only bartending license that holds value are the alcohol awareness classes that are required by some states for safety and liability reasons. These actually do hold value, but bartending school licenses hold no merit. Do not base your decision on this.
5. DO THE NUMBER OF DRINK RECIPES MATTER?
I will continue to educate aspiring bartenders on this fact: you do not need to memorize 500 drink recipes. It’s kind of cool that you get a CD-Rom of 2,000 drink recipes, but you’ll never use it. Once you start bartending you’ll find that you make the same 50 drinks and shots over and over.I have about 250 memorized and it’s about 150 more than I need. Memorize the most popular ones and memorize new ones as you go and you’ll do great.
6. WHO IS RUNNING THE SHOW?
This is probably the most overlooked factor when considering bartending schools. Not just the bartenders instructing you, but who is the master behind the plan? When you pay for a course, you want it to be run by not only a competent and experienced bar industry person, but a competent and experienced bar owner or manager who knows what in the hell he/she is talking about when it comes to hiring bartenders. Sometimes this isn’t always easy to determine, but make sure to ask questions when you call about how they plan on helping you actually land the job after they teach you how to pour liquid into a glass and put styrofoam limes on as a garnish.
7. IF IT’S AN ONLINE COURSE, DO THEY PROVIDE BAR TOOLS?
And as a follow-up questions? Do they make you pay for them? And for how much? If you are going to take an online course, you should be able to take the knowledge you are learning and put it to practice. These actions are necessary for you to achieve your goal. If they don’t offer bar tools or there’s a big cost involved, I’d think twice about it. They aren’t really providing you with great instruction if they aren’t asking you to practice what they are preaching.
If you have any other questions or want to know more about TheRealBarCourse, CLICK HERE.
Whatever you choose to do, I wish you the very best of luck.