Short answer: It depends.
Let’s face it, bartending school can be quite the investment. But that doesn’t exactly that your money is NOT worth it. Like any school or course, one can take full advantage of the opportunity in front of them. You’ll be forced to read, study bartending terminology and recipes, and practice your craft. You can either take the learning material seriously, or as many of us did high-school or college, do whatever you have to do to pass the final exam (without actually retaining the information).
At the end of the day, the question shouldn’t be “is bartending school worth it?” Instead, we urge all prospective bartenders to ask themselves:
“Will bartending school increase my chances of getting hired?“
Short answer: Yes.
Generally speaking, those who enroll in a bartending school and successfully pass the course will have a stronger resume than those who apply for jobs without any prior experience. In a sense, attending a bartending school will set yourself apart from the competition when applying. Once you complete the course you’ll be rewarded with a course certification.
Furthermore, many reputable bartending schools will provide students with job-placement assistance. As you can image, having instructors walk you through the entire application process… and potentially recommending you local bars and restaurants… your chances of landing a job dramatically increase.
One important, yet overlooked benefit of bartending school is the opportunity to build confidence. If you have no prior experience working in the industry, bartending school is a great platform to brush off the jitters or any anxieties before the real thing.
Are you on the fence about bartending to begin with? What if you’re not sure sure bartending is the job you want? While bartending school comes with a price, perhaps the experience will help you with these decisions.
Roughly 80% of students who attend bartending school, don’t get hired after course completion. But it’s not because they can’t get hired. It’s because they choose to not apply. Through bartending school, they’ve realized bartending doesn’t suit them. If that becomes the case for you, that’s perfectly fine! You can’t hate anything until you try it, right? But at least you won’t have to endure the headache of applying, getting hired, and then committing to a weekly shift… only to find out you don’t like the job weeks later.
While it’s important to weigh out the benefits of bartending school before taking out your wallet, it’s equally important to study the cons of bartending school as well.
How Much Is Bartending School?
Generally speaking, bartending schools will cost anywhere between $50 to $2,500. Bartending school prices greatly depend on a number factors such as location, where you live, and the bartending school or course itself.
The biggest attributing factor towards cost is undoubtedly the course format: Online or offline
Online bartending schools are the cheapest, with costs usually ranging anywhere between $40 to $200. Offline bartending schools, also known as in-person bartending schools, are fairly expensive. These courses are often held in a classroom environment, have an instructor, and are usually a bit more comprehensive and time-consuming. For this reason, offline bartending school typically costs anywhere between $250 to $2,500.
Is Online Bartending School Worth It?
If you’re looking to quickly learn about bartending without having to drive back and forth to a classroom, online courses are your best bet. Online schools are also less time-consuming and cheaper. But just so everyone’s aware, you likely won’t learn as much with online formats in comparison to an in-person, professional bartending school.
Simply put, you get what you pay for.
Heads up: As you search for online bartending schools, be aware that there are scams. Unfortunately, many online bartending schools don’t teach you anything you can’t find on Youtube for free! Furthermore, their “certification” may not even be nationally recognized. For these reasons, we suggest prospective bartenders to closely read the reviews before spending any money whatsoever.
When deciding to pay for either an online or offline bartending school, it’s important to understand not only the differences between the two and their costs… but also the learning material provided. Keep your expectations realistic and explore the differences between online and offline bartending schools below.
Online Bartending School
- Costs: $40 – $200
- Course Length: 4 – 15 hours
- Curriculum: Alcohol Awareness & Safety, Serving Etiquette, Liquor Types & History, Mixology and Basic Drink Recipes, Beer Types, Industry Legalities, General Bartending Terminology
- Not as costly
- Less time-consuming
- Quick and easy
- May provide you with a state-certified bartending license upon course completion
Offline Bartending School
- Costs: $250 – $1,000
- Course Length: 2 – 6 weeks
- Curriculum: Customer Psychology, Alcohol Awareness & Safety, Maximizing Tips, Serving Etiquette, Industry Legalities, Equipment Usage, Mixology and Basic Drink Recipes, Pouring and Shaking Techniques, Bar Setup Procedures, Beer Types and Keg Operations, Money Handling, Liquor Types & History
- Learning real, cup-in-hand bartending skills & techniques
- Job-placement assistance
- Provide state-certified bartending licenses upon course completion
- Quality bartending education
- Classroom experience; will meet others in the industry
How to Find The Best Bartending School
After reading this post and deciding if bartending school is for you, here are a few steps to take in order to find the best school near you.
- Reach out to us
For absolutely no cost, bartendingschool.com will provide you a list of the BEST schools in your area. This is a great way to start exploring your options, hassle-free.
- Meet The Instructor
One key difference between a good school and an unfavorable one, is the quality of the instructor(s). First impressions are generally accurate. If you can’t visit the location prior to registering, just give the school a call and try to speak to them one-on-one.
- Sit-in On A Class
Despite the costs, reputable schools are usually open to allow prospective students the chance to get a sneak-peek at all the action. If you have the time, sit through a portion of the class, observe, and take notes on the people around you and their level of engagement. If the bartending schools you reach out to don’t allow this, they’re likely hiding something for a reason.
- Read the Reviews Online
Online bartending school reviews are tricky. Some are reliable, while others are scammy and arguably fake. Regardless, they can help you narrow down your options available.
- Ask Your Local Bartenders
This one is fun, relatively easy, and super valuable. Visit some local bars in your area and spark up a conversation with the staff. Not only will they know where to point you, but some bartenders will even give their unfiltered opinion :). Bartenders are usually quick to share information about their career path, how they got to where they are today, and which schools (if any) do they recommend. Just be sure it’s a slow day so they have enough time to talk to you without too many distractions.
It’s Your Call
Believe it or not, every single day new bartenders are entering the workforce despite ever enrolling in a bartending school. But will they be as prepared or confident in comparison to those did go to school? Will they know how to earn more tips off the bat? Will they craft darn good drinks, keep managers happy, and create returning customers?
We won’t claim to know.
But we do know where the pendulum swings…