The main role of bar staff is to serve drinks in locations such as pubs, clubs and bars, as well as in hotels and gig venues. On top of this, however, they have to keep their respective venue clean and tidy for their customers, make sure that all stock levels are maintained to a good standard, and keeping the flow of glasses being washed at a level so that customers can always be served when they need to.
There’s also the small matter of working the tills, and the role can be expanded to near that of a waiter, especially with a rising number of gastro pubs that serve food alongside any drinks that one might want. Talking to customers is key, so a friendly personality and warm presence is a must for any good bar person.
Salary & benefits
Full time bar staff can expect to earn between £10,000 and £18,000 a year – a figure that is determined by the location of the venue, what type of venue it is, alongside how many shifts you pick up per week.
Supervisory roles are more senior, and if promoted to one of these positions then you can expect your wages to rise to £20,000 per year or thereabouts. Working in a bar is also one of the most pre-eminent jobs where tips can contribute significantly to your earnings, and so good customer service and getting along with customers is imperative if you want to take home a little bit extra from the tip jar.
Bar shifts tend to be in the evenings, at weekends and even on public holidays, so it is safe to say that it’s not the most socially adaptable role, but there are always venues open in the day times too, so you can expect to work some of the quieter hours. It is at busy times when bar staff are most in demand, however, so Friday and Saturday nights can provide much of the best time to work (especially for tips!)
There are really no particular qualifications that you need to gain access to the industry. Instead, a warm personality and the desire to learn are key traits that employers will look for, especially if you’re looking for a first time role. If you’ve worked a bar before, that experience should always be mentioned when looking for a new role.
Teamwork, responsibility and independent thought are all highly regarded skills in the industry and employers will be looking for signs of these on your CV. The best bar workers are happy to talk to customers, whilst still remaining focused on the job at hand and managing to complete the tasks required of them with little to no reminding from their superiors.
Training & progression
Most of the training you will receive will be on the job, although learning important regulations about alcohol and procedure will be mandatory before you can start pouring those drinks. You’ll be taught how to operate the till systems and how to correctly serve drinks to customers, as well as any bespoke practices that might be unique to the venue you’re working in.
There are certain qualifications you can study if you’re interested in moving up into the supervisory elements of the role, although there is really no substitute for real-world experience when it comes to bar knowledge. The NVQ Diplomas in Food and Beverage Service and Supervision would be a good place to start if you’re looking for formal qualifications.