How Much Do Bartenders Make?

Sarah Buckholtz
Post by Sarah Buckholtz
October 3, 2022
How Much Do Bartenders Make?

Here is a staggering fact: Over 726,936 bartenders currently work in the United States, according to demographic information from Zippia.

And that number is only going to get higher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the employment of bartenders is projected to grow eighteen percent from 2021 to 2031, with about 105,300 openings for bartenders projected each year, on average, over the next decade.

Many of those positions are anticipated based on the need to replace workers who change careers or retire.

If your business is looking to hire a bartender who has the proper bartending licenses and skills, keep reading as we break down salaries and tipping expectations for bartenders.

What’s the Salary Range for Bartenders?

The average annual salary range for a bartender is about $26,350 or $12.67 per hour before tips.

Other hiring sites like Glassdoor and Salary also report a bartender’s annual salary within a range between $23,000 - $27,000, not including tips.

Location, industry size, and prior bartending experience all affect a bartender’s salary.

For example: Here is a breakdown of the top three states that pay bartenders the most; they fluctuate from $60,000 in Hawaii at the top to $41,000 in Arizona.

An photo of a bartender pouring and stirring a drink in a darkly lit bar atmosphere

Top Three Highest-Paying States for Bartenders *

  • Hawaii - $60,000+
  • Washington, D.C. - $54,000+
  • Arizona - $41,000+

* Facts polled about US bartender statistics from Serving Alcohol

Although Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and Arizona pay their bartenders the most, the following three states are actually most in-demand for bartenders.

Top Three States That Hire the Most Bartenders *

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas

* Facts polled about US bartender statistics from Serving Alcohol

You’ll notice that these average salary estimates are broken down “before tips” or “not including tips.” That’s because, even more than salaries, most bartenders rely heavily on the gratitude of thirsty customers.

Especially in the United States, tipping is a huge part of the drinking culture.

Let’s talk about tips for bartenders.

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What’s the Average Tip Per Drink?

It takes practice to pour the perfect cocktail or to understand the right glass to serve a Manhattan or the proper pint glass to pour a stout! Such skills can determine a high-earning evening for a bartender.

According to Serving Alcohol's US Bartender Statistics, on a slow night at a small-town pub, bartenders can make as little as $40 in tips, while on a busy night in a more cosmopolitan club, they can make as much as $1,000 in one shift.

A photo of a busy bar with bartenders handling multiple customers

General guidelines show that Americans tip on average $1 per beer, a glass of wine, or a straightforward mixed cocktail. Sometimes if the bartender takes extra time to make a nice cocktail, a patron might tip $3 to $4 for each drink.

So if you do that math, a bartender making an average of $13 per hour and approximately $150 per day in tips can collect an annual salary between $55,000 and $60,000 annually.

Now, this number can differ based on whether you decide to let your bartenders keep their own tips or if you pool tips to split amongst your entire back of house. Either way, read up on our guide to reporting tips to the IRS to make sure you’re in compliance.

Here’s a Tip: If it supports the tone of your business, a tip jar can be a great addition to generating more tips for your bartenders. Here are 30 Tip Jar Ideas to get your customers in a giving mood.

Last Call! Two Important Notes Before Hiring a Bartender

Make Sure They Have a Barback

Beyond mixing and serving cocktails, slicing lemon wedges, and processing payments, bartending also requires providing excellent customer service. Help your bartenders by providing them with an incredible team of barbacks.

By replenishing garnishes, napkins, and fresh glasses, barbacks help keep your establishment running smoothly every day and your bartenders busy slinging drinks.

If you’re becoming a new bar owner or looking to improve your current bar staff, read our advice on how to hire a knowledgeable, hard-working barback. Be Sure Your Bartenders Have the Necessary Licenses*

Is a license required for bartenders to serve or sell alcohol in your state, city, town, or county?

We’ll admit: The answer isn’t simple.

A bartender pouring a mixed drink cocktail through a strainer

While there is no official, national certification to serve or bartend alcohol in the United States, some states do mandate that your bartenders pass training sessions on issues like alcohol overconsumption or the fundamental laws governing alcohol in your area.

For example, bartenders in California are required to complete and pass the California RBS Training Certification exam.

Check out our Untappd for Business reference manual to find out the specific regulations in your state.

* For the most up-to-date laws in your area, please check with your local Alcohol Beverage Authority.

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Sarah Buckholtz
Post by Sarah Buckholtz
October 3, 2022
Sarah Buckholtz is a Content Writer and Editor for Untappd, Oznr, and Hop Culture. For more than a decade she has interviewed everyone from artisan makers to Grammy nominated musicians to Jefferson Award winning preservationists. She is a former blog writer and marketing manager for American Pickers creator and host, Mike Wolfe, covering stories about heritage tourism and preservation coast-to-coast. Sarah grew up on the shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and is currently drinking a Jackalope Thunder Ann in Nashville, Tennessee.