Bartenders: Salary Overview
Bartenders mix drinks and serve them to customers in establishments such as restaurants, bars, pubs, or casinos.
Their job responsibilities may also include taking orders, checking the identification of customers to make sure that they are over the legal drinking age, cleaning their work areas, collecting payments, and maintaining liquor and bar supplies.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for bartenders was $11.39 in May 2019.
Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors, including the bartender’s level of experience, the industry and the region of employment.
The lowest 10% earned less than $8.55 an hour while the highest 10% earned more than $22.18 an hour.
Bartenders also earn tips and those who offer high-quality services can make more in tips than they do in salary.
Bartender Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, 46% of bartenders worked for restaurants and other eating places while drinking places employed 25% of all bartenders.
Some of them (6%) also worked in the field of traveler accommodation (hotels, motels, etc.), and 6% worked for civic and social organizations.
Amusement parks and other establishments in the gambling and recreation industry employed about 5% of all bartenders.
In 2018 the best paying industry for bartenders was the industry of Employment Services, an industry that provides a variety of human resource services to business.
Bartenders employed by these types of businesses earned, on average around $30,950 a year, or $14.88 per hour.
Bartenders who worked in hotels and other travel accommodation establishments earned a mean annual wage of $30,560, or $14.69 an hour.
Another field where you are likely to earn a higher salary as a bartender is the industry of Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation, Water.
This industry comprises establishments that organize cruises and other sightseeing tours on the water.
Bartenders who worked on cruise ships earned an average annual wage of $29,800 as of May 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, there are few job openings in this field, and finding a job on a cruise ship may require having a few years of experience in bartending.
Restaurants and other eating places- the top employer of bartenders- offered an annual salary of $27,940 a year or $13.43 an hour while the mean annual salary for bartenders who worked in drinking places earned an average annual salary of $25,230 or $12.13 an hour.
The average annual salary for bartenders who worked in casinos and amusement parks was $25,070 as of May 2018.
A few bartenders choose to work as independent contractors and their average hourly rate was $13.99 bringing the total annual salary to approximately $29,100.
Bartender Salary by Compensation Structure
Bartenders often earn a combination of hourly wages and customers’ tips and their earnings vary widely depending on the type of establishment.
In some high-end and busy restaurants, casinos or hotels bartenders make more in tips than in wages.
The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $7.25 an hour as of July 2009 which may include a combination of direct wages and tips.
However, the minimum wages for these employees vary by state or even by locality.
The Fair Labor Standard Act defines tipped employees as employees who make more than $30 a month in tips but this definition also varies by state.
According to the Fair Labor Act, for bartenders, direct wages may be as low as $2.13.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for bartenders is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average of all occupations, so if you’re willing to start a career in this field your job prospects are expected to be good.
However, job openings vary by industry and the region of employment.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Bartenders. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.