bartender salary

More accurately, this article should be titled "How Much do Bartenders REALLY  Make" because a wide chasm exists between a bartender salary and what they actually make and what the government and other online websites claim they make.

As you most likely already know, a bartender's income is not like a traditional office job that has a salary, and it's more than a basic retail job that pays only wages. With tips being involved, everything gets flipped on its keister, because what many people don't know who aren't in the bar/restaurant industry, servers and bartenders don't claim how much they actually make.


I know, scandalous, right?

In addition, how much bartenders make is going to vary greatly based on where you live (i.e. Bismarck, ND vs. Las Vegas, NV).

Now, you might be here on a whim, or you might be thinking seriously about how you can become a bartender but first you want to make sure it's worth the effort you're preparing to put into it.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised...

In fact, you might be surprised where the bartender salary ranks among other jobs that don't require a degree. You can check it out here: Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree: Where do Bartenders Rank?

And if YOU want to make this same type of money and become one of those rockstar bartenders you always see when you go out partying, CLICK HERE to learn more and see if registration is open for the online bartending course, TheRealBarCourse.

Ok, let's get on to answering the question already. You can either read all about it below, or you can watch this video which relays the same information, and that way you don't have to actually think on your own.

For you intellects, let's move on to the BLS...


The Bureau of Labor Statistics ridiculously states on their website that bartenders in earn $19,530 annually.

They also claim that bartenders make on average $11.59/hr. They should just remove the "L" from the BLS because if you were to ask any bartender you ever met how much they make, it would be approximately 3 times that number (but shhhhhhhh...don't tell anyone).

Sidenote: Based on federal law the absolute MINIMUM anyone can make is $7.25/hr. Some states pay the going minimum wage plus tips, while other states can actually pay as low as $2.13 per hour for employees receiving tips, as long as they earn at least $7.25 per hour. Crazy, eh?

Even so, at the very least, the BLS stat conveys that bartenders only make $4.34 per hour in tips. And that's assuming you're being paid $2.13 per hour ($11.59 - $7.25 = $4.34).

If you're being paid $10 per hour like many states pay, this stat claims that bartenders are making $1.59 per hour in tips.

In their defense, the BLS is only reporting what is claimed by bartenders and servers, but there should be an asterisk next to that number on their site, because they MUST realize that this stat is false.

I can hear you now, right through this screen:

"Great, Dave, you've uncovered the BLS conspiracy, but you still haven't told us how much bartenders make."

Fine, let's get to it. Not only do I have some numbers for you, I have INSIDE numbers from real bartenders from all over the country. I recently contacted and interviewed 100 bartenders from 40 different states across the country (and remember that this includes slow lunch shifts at the bar on the side of i-80 running through Dexter, Iowa, as well as some Vegas & New York bartenders bringing in $800 per night).

This process took some painful due diligence and effort, but in the end it was worth it. Here are the results:

The AVERAGE bartender in the United States (According to TheRealBureauMan):

  • Works 3.5 shifts per week
  • Works 24.5 hours per week
  • Earns $9.25 per hour in wages
  • Earns $193 per shift in tips

This comes out to $902.50 per week ($227 in wages + $675.50 in tips)

Multiply that by 52 weeks and were talking $46,930. Not bad, not great. We haven’t cracked the top 5 yet, but i’m not finished.

The most interesting thing about these stats is the hourly amount earned with wages and tips, which in this case works out to be $36.84 per hour.

Something else that isn’t factored in when the BLS created  their top 10 list of highest-paying jobs without a degree is that all those other jobs assume a 40 hour work week, which the average bartender does not work.

So allow me to make a similar assumption here, considering these fresh bartending statistics we have stumbled across.

$36.84 x 40 = $1,473.60 per week

$1,450.80 x 52 weeks = $76,627 per year

That's some good scratch for someone without extensive education, training or even intelligence for that matter. And even though my math is only based on 100 bartenders, you can certainly see how bartending is going to be extremely profitable for anyone looking for a blue collar job that acts like a mini-rock star profession in disguise.

The undeniable fact is, bartenders are killing it, and the industry is going nowhere but up.

If you're thinking of getting into bartending, stop thinking. Get on it. It's a new opportunity for you that will be a wild and profitable trip you won't want to miss.

If you want to learn more on How to Become a Bartender, even if you have absolutely no experience and you want to know how to get your foot in the door way ahead of the other applicants, CLICK HERE to see if registration for TheRealBarCourse is open. 

It just might be the best money-move you ever made.

Cheers, until next time,

Dave, The RB

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About the Author

Dave has been in the bar/restaurant industry for more 30 years and has worked as a barback, server, bartender, bar manager, GM, bar consultant, and since 2010 is the Owner/CEO of Bar Patrol, a bar and restaurant management company that helps owners & managers run a more profitable bar. In addition, Dave also helps bartenders become experts at their jobs, as well as help aspiring bartenders to learn the trade and get their foot in the door and land a job with the #1 online bartending course, TheRealBarCourse. Dave can be reached at any time at: