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Bar Manager: Career Information & Requirements

Bar managers requires little or no formal education. Learn about the education, training and job duties as well as information on licensing and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Bar managers perform many duties including supervising staff and maintaining inventory. There are several associate's and bachelor's degree programs that will help prepare you for this career such as through food service or hospitality management programs. Depending on jurisdiction, a special food-related designation should be earned.

Essential Information

Good bar managers are social, detail-oriented individuals who work in a variety of hospitality environments, including bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels. While a degree in restaurant and hospitality management is an advantage, many bar managers rely solely on entry-level restaurant and bar experience when beginning their careers.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent; associate's or bachelor's degree available
Other Requirements Prior relevant experience; licensing and/or certification may be required depending on employer and state requirements
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%* (for all food service managers)
Median Salary (2015) $48,690* (for all food service managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

The work of a bar manager involves overseeing an establishment's service of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to patrons as well as supervising staff, maintaining inventory, and in many cases, overseeing various marketing and promotional efforts. Bar managers may work in a stand-alone bar that specializes in serving beverages or may manage a bar that is attached to a larger venue, such as a restaurant or hotel.

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that jobs are expected to grow 5% for food service managers from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). According to May 2015 BLS data, the median salary for food service managers was $48,690.

Requirements for Becoming a Bar Manager

Individual employers have their own educational requirements for bar managers. While many employers may be more concerned about a job candidate's experience in bartending or food service management, others may want to hire a candidate who has some formal education in management, food service or various aspects of bartending, spirits and wine.

Educational Options

Academic Education

Community colleges and vocational schools offer associate's degree programs in food service or hospitality management that can help graduates find jobs as bar managers. Four-year universities offer bachelor's degrees in restaurant management and hospitality. While these degrees may not be an absolute requirement for finding work, they can be helpful, particularly if applying for a job in a major bar, restaurant or hotel chain.

Vocational Education

Bartending schools often incorporate bar management education into their standard curriculum. Some also offer separate programs in bar management as well as continuing education courses in various aspects of bartending and management, including specialized training in wine selection, storage and service.

Experience

Many bar managers learn the business while working as bartenders or servers themselves. Individuals who want to become bar managers may have better luck finding employment if they have experience working in a bar or restaurant environment.

Licensing and Certification

Licensing

Some jurisdictions, such as Washington D.C., require bar managers to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary, but may require passing a background check and completing a training course in the responsibility of serving alcohol. Local or state laws may require managers or other employees of bars that serve food to undergo training in safe food handling and to apply for a food handling license or permit.

Certification

Some bar industry professionals offer certification programs for bar managers, which typically require students to complete a class and then pass a certification exam. Other types of certification programs for bar managers include food safety certification as well as safe alcohol service certification. State or local laws may require bar managers to hold food safety or alcohol service certification from a certifying organization that has been approved by the liquor commission or health department.

Bar managers can enter the field by obtaining a vocational certificate or earning an undergraduate degree in a similar field. Many bar managers have prior experience through work as servers or bartenders. To begin working, a food safety or alcohol certification or license may be required.

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