Are Bartending Schools Worth It?

After all these years in New York, working in the hospitality industry, I’ve seen many people applying for bartending jobs coming out straight from bartending schools. I’ve never seen these “graduates” being hired. You could definitely see the lack of experience and comfortability of the candidates, whom sometimes acted even with arrogance (once a candidate told me in private that he was told in school to be “cocky” when looking for a bartending job – what a horrible lesson!). In New York City, speed and confidence are major aspects when considering to hire a bartender, and those skills only come with experience. Based on bartending schools graduates’ qualifications, I can affirm: Bartending schools are not worth it! And the crazy thing is that even though these schools don’t delivery what they promise, they keep increasing in number all around the world. Why pay a lot of money to such schools when you can start working as a barback or server in a place and learn on the job while making money? I am a big fan of education, however the programs offered by these schools are shallow and outdated. They offer no practice in a real setting. So my recommendations for the ones interested on becoming a bartender is:

  •  START OUT AS A BARBACK OR SERVER AND OBSERVE – learn from the bartenders and practice whenever you can. I’m pretty sure that if your manager sees your drive for knowledge combined with your work ethics, eventually you will get a shot behind the bar. It really depends on you. All the great bartenders I know started out as a barback or a server. This is how you will learn the fundamental skills to succeed. You will experience the high-volume, to work under stress and how to deal with all types of customers.
  • STUDY ON THE SIDE – Research – the internet has pretty much everything you need when it comes to information. BE PROACTIVE
  • NETWORKING – That’s what is going to take you to the next level. That is what is going to make you find that AMAZING($$$$$$$) bartending job.

I hope my post has helped to answer your questions. Please let me know if you have any other concerns about the subject.


Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Diego Siqueira. I am originally from Brazil. I have been in New York for over 13 years, and since then I’ve been working in the hospitality industry. I performed all of the front of the house jobs, until in 2009 I became a bartender. After 10 years working as a bartender, in all types of places (from small neighborhood restaurants to fine dining ones, and from cheap bars to very expensive clubs), I noticed a lack of staff preparation on doing the job. Mostly because of unprepared managers that lack enough information to be able to run a bar program and foster a culture of learning. The reality is that being a bartender is more than just pouring a vodka and soda and talking to people. When dealing with people and alcohol, a big responsibility is on the table. Bartending is something you learn on the job. In this blog, I intend to bring the insights of credible people in the industry. The idea is to increase the knowledge of other bartenders, instruct people who want to start in the business and help the ones who want just to entertain their guests at home. I hope you enjoy it!