Is Bar School Really Necessary?

In some countries including the US, there are usually a number of different options for people who want to work in the hospitality industry. Many entry level jobs don’t require any direct experience or qualifications. However, you may still have seen adverts on the internet from your local bar school, offering to make you an expert in all things bar related in a matter of weeks. Are these schools actually worth the money or are they just a waste of time?

In all honesty, the jury is still out. Bar schools can be good for you, but it depends on exactly what you are after, and your own personal preferences. The first and most important thing to note is that you do not NEED any qualification a bar school can give you in order to become a good bartender. You don’t even need one if you plan on taking bar work seriously as a career. Many bars and clubs will have their own training schemes and will be more interested in your work experience, personal attitude and appearance than in any qualification you might have.

At least, that’s the idea. The problem is that in an economy where more and more people are looking for jobs, you need to stand out. Bar school qualifications might not be necessary, but if an employer is faced with two candidates of similar experience and one has bar qualifications and the other does not, it’s quite easy to figure out which one they would pick. Sometimes you have to give yourself every single advantage, especially if you are handing in a resume rather than meeting the owner of the bar in person.

Bar School can also give you a massive head start on your first job. Many schools offer work placement and ‘guarantee’ they will help you find work after you receive your qualifications. Experience in making cocktails and serving drinks can mean you are more likely to be hired because the bar will be able to put fewer resources into training you. You may also find it easier to get a promotion for similar reasons.

However, bar school can also be quite expensive. Depending on the type of course you take it might require months of work before you earn back the initial cash you spent on your course. Some bar school work also revolves around theory such as learning how beer and wine is made, which isn’t particularly useful in the real world.

Bar school can be a blessing or a waste of time depending on your own personal situation, so think about your own career goals and budget carefully before you make the decision.

Nathaly Dedeyan is co-owner of a jobs website catering specifically for bar jobs, including general bar tenders, cocktail mixologists, bar/club management, kitchen and waiting staff, pr teams, security personnel and more. Visitors to are able to browse through bar jobs and post their cv’s or bar jobs available for free!

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