While not always a requirement for finding work in a bar, as standards vary from state to state, bartender certification can still be a helpful tool to have. Getting certified lends an air of trustworthiness, as it implies to potential employers and mentors that you are serious about bartending, are knowledgeable about various drinks and alcohols, and that you know your legal responsibilities as a bartender. The following are some basic things that you may want to consider if you are thinking about earning a bartender certification.
Bartending schools are not strictly regulated, so you must do your due diligence when considering a school. A reputable bartending school will not make grandiose promises about instant employment or its ability to teach you everything you need to know in only a handful of hours. Most good schools will not even allow you to graduate until you’ve gained a working knowledge of liquor laws for your area, and can mix a number of drinks. If while checking out a school you get the distinct impression that it is a crash course set up by a company who only wants to turn a profit, look elsewhere.
Even if you have absolutely no bar experience, getting your bartender certification is a good way to familiarize yourself with the career before you make the leap to finding a job. Patronizing a bar and actually tending a bar are two very distinct experiences, and good bartending schools will immerse you right away in life behind the bar. You will be presented with information at a fast pace, similar to what you will deal with in a real bar. You will quickly figure out if bartending is the right career for you.
Ideally, bartender certification will be only one of many tools in your toolbox for building your career. You will also need the skills and abilities that only come after many years of experience on the job. Because of the down economy, finding a bartending job is getting increasingly more competitive, as it’s a job that people can do on the side, or while recovering from a layoff. While having license or certification will rarely be the single deciding factor in hiring a new bartender, it is a nice little something extra to offer when applying.
For best results, combine your experience and bartender certification when looking to move up to your ideal working environment, whether it is working at a high end restaurant or hotel, or simply taking on more responsibility in a smaller bar. Make sure you conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times, even if you have a certification and years of experience. Bars look to hire to fulfill their own needs; if you are lax in your presentation and attitude and end up giving a bad impression, no manner of experience will make up for it. Your bartender certification and license should be the evidence of the professional manner by which you conduct yourself at all times behind the bar.