Being a bartender is a great job, but it also has this stigma attached to it; people think bartenders are just working to pay the bills until they can get the “real” job they’ve been looking for. While this is true for some folks behind the bar, it’s definitely not the case for everyone. Some bartenders truly love what they do and want to do everything they can to make a legitimate career out of slinging drinks.

So, how can you make a career out of being a bartender? There’s no clear path, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Think about the type of bar atmosphere you think you’d like to work in. Do you like busy college bars? Chill local pubs? Dive bars? Chain restaurants? Upscale dining establishments? If you’re not sure what you want, scope out a few places on the weekends – when they should be the busiest – to see what they’re like and what the earning potential could be.
  • You need to know your stuff. We’re not saying you need to go to bartending school, in fact, most bartenders haven’t done any type of bartending school. You do, however, need to know how to make as many drinks as possible and other liquor and bar terminology. Bartending is awesome because you can essentially teach yourself the basics without taking out a huge student loan and still go on to have a great career.
  • Make sure you have the right personality to be a bartender. If you’re going to make a career out of this, you have to be sure this is something you can handle all the time. If making small talk or being charming is not something that comes naturally to you, you may burn out very quickly trying to fake it. Remember: your tips come from your ability to not just make a good drink, but relate well to your customers.
  • Talk to bartenders who have careers you admire. You can talk to people who live in your city or town, or you can reach out to other bartenders via the Internet. Just find a few career bartenders who seem to be doing something right and ask them any questions you have, including how they got started and moved up in their careers.

Are you already a bartender? Do you have any tips for wannabe bartenders?