Frequently Asked Questions About Bartending & Bartending Schools


  • How old do you have to be to work as a bartender?
  • In New York the law is 18 or over to serve alcohol. So yes, you can bartend at the age of 18.


  • Do I need a ‘Bartenders License’ or ‘Certification’ to work as a bartender in New York or any other city throughout the United States?
  • There is no such thing as a 'bartending license’ - a bar must be licensed to serve alcohol and a school must be licensed to teach bartending. A ‘bartending certification’ is a diploma awarded by a bartending school for completion of the course and passing of the school’s exam. Establishments rarely train people on the job nowadays, so the best way to get that training is through a reputable bartending school. Unfortunately bartending schools have received a lot of bad publicity due to scam bartending schools and on-line certification. Which is why we always stress that you research your options.


    At the New York Bartending School® we have students from all over the world taking our course; we like to think that certification from the 'New York Bartending School®' is perceived as meaning something in the hospitality business. Not necessarily for the certification, but for the quality of training it depicts.


    It is required by law in some states that all servers of alcohol complete an 'Alcohol Awareness Program' such as T.I.P.™ . This certification course provides bar owners with a break on their insurance costs, and some protection from alcohol related lawsuits. Several of our instructors are certified TIPS™ trainers.


  • How much do bartenders make?
  • Depends on the city and the type of establishment you are working at. There is no denying that bartending is a very lucrative job, especially in New York City. We have NYB graduates easily making $200 - $400 on a busy night, with some making way more than that. The upside is that most of a bartenders pay is cash tips.
  • What do I look for when choosing a bartending school?
    • 1
    • Research bartending schools. DO visit at least two schools to compare differences. Tour the schools, sit in on a class, talk to the instructors and students. Attend a free trial bartending class if they offer one.

    • What are the facilities like? How many cocktail training stations are there? Counting the number of soda guns will tell you how many stations. Double that number and that’s the maximum of students that should be in the class (5 stations; 10 students maximum (two at a station).


      Bartending schools do not use real alcohol for their 'hands-on' bartender training classes. With practice speed drills, students are making a few hundred drinks - imagine the waste if using real alcohol; the class would set you back a few thousand dollars if you were throwing all that booze down the drain! There is one bartending school (not licensed by the state education department) in an uptown university that advertises the use of 'real alcohol' - unfortunately you sit in a regular school classroom as the instructor wheels in a cart with some real bottle of alcohol on it. You then proceed to watch the instructor make some drinks. At the end of the class you all line up to make a drink. If you make four drinks throughout the course (two nights a week), then you are extremely lucky. However, having said that, the NYBS does use real alcohol in their 'advanced mixology course'.


    • Modern bartending schools provide a lot more than basic drink making. Bartending may not be rocket science, but it is also not just about memorizing some basic drinks. It makes little difference whether you are looking to bartend part-time to make some extra cash, or you want to make a career out of it – you still need to learn all aspects of professional bartending to land a job. That includes: wine knowledge and service, beer knowledge and service, spirits & liqueur knowledge and service, POS registers, customer service, up-selling, opening/closing procedures, alcohol awareness, garnish preparation, etc. It is not the certification that will land you the job - it is your personality and training!


    • No school, regardless of trade, can guarantee any graduate a job, but they should at least provide a solid job placement assistance program. A good bartending school should have an on-line job site, one-on-one assistance, and at least one training bar where graduation can get some additional real-bartending experience.