The Nomad Bartender – Earning Behind the Bar Pros and Cons

The Nomad Bartender – Earning Behind the Bar Pros and Cons

Working as a nomad can be a pleasant and successful profession, but it also presents unique obstacles and responsibilities. This article explores the pros and cons of earning a living behind the bar, including everything from job requirements and licenses to the talents and temperament required to succeed in this dynamic sector.

The Allure of Bartending

Bartending is often romanticized in popular culture, portrayed as a fun and social job that offers the chance to meet interesting people while making good money. While there is some truth to this depiction, the reality is more nuanced.

Pros of Bartending Career

1. Good Earning Potential

One of the most appealing aspects of bartending is the potential for high pay, particularly in busy or upmarket venues. Tips can considerably increase a bartender's earnings, frequently exceeding the base rate. In some places, experienced bartenders can make a good living, with tips frequently doubling their hourly wage. To tap into this lucrative field, many aspiring bartenders are turning to online bartender school to gain the necessary skills and certifications from the comfort of their own homes.

2. Flexible Work Hours

Bartending frequently offers flexible hours, which can be perfect for students, artists, or anybody who has to balance work and other obligations. Shifts might vary, with options to work nights, weekends, or part-time, giving you more flexibility than many other jobs.

3. Social Interaction

For extroverts and those who enjoy meeting new people, bartending can be a highly social job. Interacting with customers, hearing their stories, and building a regular clientele can make the workday enjoyable and fulfilling.

4. Skills Development

Bartending can teach a variety of transferable skills, including customer service, multitasking, cash handling, and conflict resolution. These skills can be valuable in numerous other careers, making bartending a good stepping stone or complement to other professional paths.

5. Creativity and Craftsmanship

Craft bartending and mixology are becoming increasingly popular, allowing bartenders to show their creativity by creating unique cocktails. This aspect of the job can be particularly rewarding for those with a passion for the art and science of drink making.

6. A Global Career

Bars can be found all over the world making this an excellent career to work and explore new places making the Nomad bartender a possibility.

bartender at work

Cons of Bartending Career

Unpredictable Income

While tips can boost earnings, they also make income unpredictable. Slow nights, off-peak seasons, or economic downturns can significantly reduce a bartender's income. This unpredictability can make financial planning more challenging.

2. Physically Demanding

Bartending is a physically demanding job. Long hours on your feet, carrying heavy items, and working late into the night can take a toll on your body. It's not uncommon for bartenders to suffer from back pain, sore feet, and other physical ailments related to their work.

3. Stressful Environment

The fast-paced and often hectic nature of bartending can be stressful. Handling a rush of customers, managing multiple drink orders simultaneously, and dealing with intoxicated or difficult patrons requires a high level of patience and stress management.

4. Unsociable Hours

While the flexible hours can be a pro, they can also be a con. Working nights, weekends, and holidays can interfere with personal life and social activities. This aspect of the job can lead to a lack of work-life balance, which is something to consider before pursuing a bartending career.

5. Exposure to Negative Aspects

Bartenders often deal with drunk and sometimes belligerent customers, which can be unpleasant and occasionally dangerous. There's also the risk of being in an environment where substance abuse is prevalent, which can pose personal challenges for some individuals.

Requirements and Licensing

Educational Background

While formal education is not typically required to become a bartender, having a high school diploma or GED can be beneficial. Many skills are learned on the job, but having some foundational knowledge of math (for making change) and communication skills is important.

Bartending School

Attending bartending school is an option that can provide a competitive edge. These programs teach the basics of mixology, customer service, and responsible alcohol service. However, not all employers require bartending school, and experience often trumps formal training.

Licensing and Certifications

The need for a bartending license or permit varies by location. Some states and municipalities require bartenders to complete a certification course, such as the Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) certification or the Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) certification. These courses cover important topics like alcohol laws, serving practices, and how to handle intoxicated customers.

Example-  If you are working in Texas, you need a TX bartending licence to ensure compliance with state and municipal regulations.

Nomad bartender

Skills and Temperament

Customer Service Skills

Being personable, approachable, and able to maintain a positive demeanour even under pressure are crucial traits for a bartender. Excellent customer service skills can lead to better tips and repeat business.

Attention to Detail

Precision is important in bartending, from measuring ingredients accurately to remembering orders and ensuring cleanliness. Attention to detail can prevent mistakes that might affect the quality of service or the safety of customers.

Multitasking Ability

Bartenders often juggle multiple tasks at once, such as taking orders, preparing drinks, handling payments, and restocking supplies. The ability to multitask efficiently is essential for maintaining a smooth workflow.

Stamina and Endurance

The physical demands of bartending require good stamina. Bartenders need to be able to stand for long periods, move quickly, and stay alert, often late into the night.

Stress Management

Handling a busy bar, especially during peak hours, can be stressful. Effective stress management techniques and the ability to remain calm under pressure are key to succeeding in this environment.


Earning a living behind the bar can be an exciting and rewarding career choice for those who thrive in a social, fast-paced environment and enjoy the art of drink making.

However, it also comes with its own set of challenges, including unpredictable income, physical demands, and stressful conditions. Understanding the requirements, licenses, and skills needed to succeed is crucial for anyone considering this path.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue bartending should be based on a realistic assessment of one's strengths, preferences, and career goals. For those who are well-suited to the demands of the job, bartending can offer not only financial rewards but also a fulfilling and dynamic career.

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