Drink Magazine

How Much Do Bartenders REALLY Make?

By Therealbarman @TheRealBarman

A common and intriguing question, you can be sure, and one I get a lot.

Intriguing because a bartender's income is not like traditional jobs that have a salary or wages. Tips turn everything topsy turvy, especially since servers and bartenders do not claim anything close to what they actually make.

And with that said, the answer to this question is going to vary based on where you live (i.e. Bismarck, ND vs. Las Vegas, NV).

I have actually already answered this question in yesterday's blog post, Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree: Where do Bartenders Rank?

So you can click on the link and read that blog post, or I will simply repeat all the relevant details from that article here of how much bartenders REALLY make in this industry.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS (THE BLS)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ridiculously states on their website that bartenders earn $19,530 annually.

They also claim that bartenders make on average $11.59/hr. They should just remove the "L" from the BLS because if you were to ask any bartender you ever met how much they make, it would be approximately 3 times that number (but shhhhhhhh...don't tell anyone).

Let's take a look at this: the absolute MINIMUM nationally anyone who brings in tips can make is $7.25/hr.

Some states can actually pay as low as $2.13 per hour for employees receiving tips, but with their tips they must make at least $7.25 per hour. It's the law.

So at the very least, this stat conveys that bartenders only make $4.34 per hour in tips. And that's assuming you're being paid $2.13 per hour!

If you're being paid $10 per hour like most people, this stat claims that bartenders are making $1.59 per hour in tips.

In their defense, the BLS is only recording what is claimed by bartenders, but there should be an asterisk next to that number on their site, because they MUST realize that this stat is false.

Here are my facts. I contacted and interviewed 100 bartenders from different states across the country (and remember that this includes slow lunch shifts at the bar on the side of i-80 running through Dexter, Iowa, as well as some Vegas & New York bartenders bringing in $800 per night).

The AVERAGE bartender in the United States (According to TheRealBureauMan):
  • Works 3.5 shifts per week
  • Works 24.5 hours per week
  • Earns $9.25 per hour in wages
  • Earns $193 per shift in tips

This comes out to $902.50 per week ($227 in wages + $675.50 in tips)

Multiply that by 52 weeks and were talking $46,930. Not bad, not great. We haven't cracked the top 5 yet, but i'm not finished.

The most interesting thing about these stats is the hourly amount earned with wages and tips, which in this case works out to be $36.84 per hour.

Something else that isn't factored in when the BLS created their top 10 list of highest-paying jobs without a degree is that all those other jobs assume a 40 hour work week.

So allow me to make a similar assumption here in favor of the new bartending facts we have stumbled across.

$36.84 x 40 = $1,473.60 per week

$1,450.80 x 52 weeks = $76,627 per year

That's amazing money for someone without extensive education, training or even intelligence for that matter. And even though my math is only based on 100 bartenders, you can certainly see how bartending is going to be extremely profitable for anyone looking for a blue collar job that acts like a mini-rock star profession in disguise.

The undeniable fact is, bartenders are killing it, and the industry is going nowhere but up.

If you're thinking of getting into bartending, stop thinking. Get on it. It will be a wild and profitable trip you won't want to miss.

Cheers, until next time,

Dave, The RB


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