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Be a Bar Manager: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a bar manager. Research the career requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in bar management. View article »

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  • 0:03 Bar Manager Career Info
  • 0:57 Work in Food and…
  • 1:22 Work as a Bartender
  • 2:10 Get Bar Manager Job
  • 2:42 Get Postsecondary Training

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Video Transcript

Bar Manager Career Info

Bar managers oversee the operations of a bar, including employees, inventory, and customer satisfaction. To attract customers to the bar, managers must arrange entertainment, create displays, develop promotions, and maintain a safe environment. Bar managers also must develop a schedule for employees and take disciplinary actions when necessary. Dealing with difficult employees or unruly customers could be a challenging part of this occupation.

Bar managers must have strong communication skills, leadership skills, and management skills, as well as knowledge of business and finance. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that food service managers working in drinking places that served alcoholic beverages earned a mean wage of $52,810 per year.

Career Requirements at a Glance

Degree Level None required, though some postsecondary education is often preferred
Degree Field Food and beverage management, service and hospitality
Experience 1-5 years working in the food and beverage industry
Key Skills Management, business, and finance skills; leadership, attention to detail, and strong communication skills
Additional Requirements Must be 18 to serve alcohol and 21 to work in a bar in most states
Salary (2015)* $52,810 (mean annual wage for food service managers working in alcoholic beverage drinking establishments)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Monster.com job postings (August 2012), Missouri Department of Public Safety

Work in Food and Beverage Industry

While states often have minimum age requirements of 18 or 21 to work with alcohol, aspiring bar managers can prepare for the field even earlier than that. It's possible to gain experience in the restaurant industry while still in school. Working as a host, server, or food preparer can provide valuable experience in operations and communications in the food and beverage industry.

Work as a Bartender

People working in food and beverage service might advance to bartending positions. Bartending experience provides individuals with a thorough understanding of beverage preparation and serving. Bartenders might take on management duties, like checking inventory, ordering supplies, running promotions, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Gaining bartending experience might lead to a promotion to bar manager.

Though bartenders usually receive some on-the-job training, completing an official program, which might last just a few weeks, can give one an edge in securing a bartending job or lead to more prestigious jobs. A bartending program can teach one how to create a variety of cocktails and signature drinks, interact with highly intoxicated customers, and maintain the bar.

Get Bar Manager Job

Someone with several years of experience in the food and drink industry can seek management opportunities in bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and other establishments that serve alcohol. The specific duties and responsibilities depend on the size and type of the establishment. While some larger clubs may have a team of managers, smaller pubs may have just one manager who oversees everything. In general, a bar manager is in charge of the day-to-day operations and ensures that the establishment is in compliance with all state and local laws and regulations.

Get Postsecondary Training

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some college education is increasingly important for obtaining a beverage management position. A certificate or degree in food and drink management covers topics in proper sanitation, beverage preparation, and drink menu planning, as well as business, advertisement, marketing, and accounting. Having knowledge in these areas might make one a more attractive candidate for a bar management position.

Once again, bar managers should have some experience working in the food service industry before they go on to seek a management role, and having some postsecondary training could help as well.

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