October 9, 2016

The big question a lot of bartenders ask themselves is: Do I need to study at bartending school to find bar work?

It’s so commonly asked by rising mixologists because we want to be the best we can possibly be at our jobs. With more people attending College and University for their specialised subjects, it seems that many bartenders are feeling the pinch to edge towards school.

Today, we’re unravelling the never-ending discussion of whether bartending school will really help your career.

The Connundrum On Bartending School

Bartending School: Do Bartenders Need To Go?

Many successful (and successful) bartenders have studied at school and each have been faced with a different outlet once they received their qualification.

Let’s first address why you’d choose to study a vocational job.

When jobs are short in your area, you want to maximise your efforts to find the best full-time job for you. So instead of slumping on the sofa watching daytime TV, many dedicated individuals choose to study part-time to explore their inner mixologist, whilst working part-time.

There are generally four different parts to a course, including:

  1. Learning to pour units properly and accurately
  2. Everything alcohol: The laws, history, usages and different types
  3. Developing flairtending tricks
  4. Put to the test: Memorising the different drinks learnt on the course

But your course doesn’t end there. Many schools give you the opportunity to understand service management and how to interact people. If you’ve never worked in customer service or are shy by nature, this can be extremely beneficial to you.

As the teachers offering the course are experienced in the field, you get to appreciate what life is really like behind a bar and receive some inside tricks to developing your career.

Then there’s the huge pro that these professional teachers are always there for you – to help and guide your technique and knowledge. A boss wouldn’t be so kind to work on your technique and be patient with you, but would advise you to walk out the door!

What Are The Pros Of Bartending School?

Bartending School: Do Bartenders Need To Go?

As acknowledged above, you will learn everything about bar work that you possibly could to help you after your studies. Many courses don’t take place in a classroom setting, but in an actual bar to give students the feel for working behind a bar.

You actually get to act out being a bartender and testing drinks. It sounds like a party, but the pressure is on to put everything you’ve learned so far in the course to the test – including differentiating between placebo drinks and those made incorrectly.

As you can imagine, this can be fun. You’re not always sat behind a textbook or a computer screen, but are put into a real situation; you can’t say this about some other courses in other fields!

So as such, you get to evaluate if this career is for you. It’s almost like a demo version of your life before you dedicate yourself 100 percent to one job and get stuck in it forever. Plus, you have to know all of this information before landing your bartending job and if you can’t learn it on the job, where else will you get it from?

If you’re tied against another equally talented bartender who doesn’t have a qualification, it’s evident that the bar owner will choose you, because your dedication to your studies proves that you have a good work ethic and really want this.

What Are The Cons of Bartending School?

Perhaps the most popular disappointment bartenders feel with leaving school is finding a job afterwards. You’ve worked so hard to unleash the chains of school to conquer the world, yet you’re hit with neglected emails, bars not hiring and no calls back after interviews.

As with any career, you could have 100 degrees, but it won’t always guarantee you finding a job afterwards. The struggle is less heavy, but it’s very much present because finding any job can be difficult.

Many bartenders have even said that the schools didn’t support them after their studies or advise them how to find work. They’re given all of this knowledge with no real comprehension of how to put it in motion.

Pick your school wisely and opt for one which offers support after your studies or has connections with bars to help get you hired afterwards.

As with everything fun, it comes at a cost. To study a bartending course in Sweden, it will set you back 11 000SEK. For a course in the UK, you’re looking at anywhere from £100 to £1000 depending on the length of it and qualification at the end.

When you’re not guaranteed something at the finish line, the risk of spending money can always impact your decision. Though if you’re going for more than the definite job at the end, you can learn more about your craft, meet great people and focus on pursuing other career options at the same time

Everyone’s decision for studying is different. Some use it as a pass time to discover more about themselves, rather than rushing into a career. Some simply enjoy learning new things. Others are more serious about using the qualification as a stepping stone to a career.

If the latter is you, then think carefully before you jump into bartending school. A qualification means nothing without a bubbly personality, friendly persona and flexibility.

Expand your horizons by trying to gain experience in a bar to show that you’re truly willing to get your hands dirty and work in a bar environment, not just study about it.

What’s your opinion on studying at bartending school? Comment below with your thoughts or share your story if you’ve been.