Kaitiaki Pae Inu
Bartenders prepare and serve drinks in bars, restaurants and clubs.
Bartenders usually earn an average of
$17 per hour
Bartenders usually earn minimum wage.
Source: HospitalityNZ, 'Annual Survey 2014'.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Bartenders may do some or all of the following:
- take orders, make and serve drinks
- clean and tidy the bar area
- check customers' identification for proof of legal drinking age
- handle cash, EFTPOS and other payments
- collect and wash glasses
- operate gaming machines
- ensure that customers do not drink too much (host responsibility)
- help prepare and serve food.
Skills and knowledge
Bartenders need to have:
- knowledge of types of beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks
- drink preparation and drink service skills
- knowledge of liquor licensing regulations.
- may work full time or part time. They may do shift work, and are often required to work evenings and weekends
- work in pubs, hotels, restaurants and clubs
- may have to deal with rowdy or drunk people, and work in hot or noisy conditions.
What's the job really like?
Gaynor Mowat - Bartender
"Lights, camera, action"
As a bar supervisor at Wanaka’s Edgewater Resort, Gaynor Mowat says she never knows what will happen in her job from one hour to the next.
"That’s where the adrenaline rush comes from. When you walk through that door it’s a bit like being an actress – it’s lights, camera, action. You can have a local person come in who you have never met before or people from different cultures who may have struggled and saved to do this trip. I want people to go away from here thinking this is the most wonderful place they have visited."
Being part of people’s memories
Two visitors who had stayed at Edgewater five years ago, returned to Wanaka recently and bumped into Gaynor in the local supermarket. "They greeted me by name. I was so surprised, but they said they often talked about me," says Gaynor. "You feel you have made an impression – not just me – but everyone who works here. It’s a responsibility and an honour to be part of their memories.
"Bartending is not just about pouring beer – it’s about being tuned into people and giving them service you would like yourself."
Ashleigh checks out what it's like to work in hospitality, including being a bartender - 5.39 mins. (Video courtesy of the Hospitality Standards Institute)
Clinton: Ashleigh’s off to Soul Bar and Bistro in the heart of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour to meet operations manager Geeling.
Geeling: Hi, Ashleigh? I’m Geeling, welcome to Soul.
Geeling: Hospitality I think is probably one of the most exciting, growing industries in this country. We see the figures coming through every year – how tourism and hospitality grows by leaps and bounds, way above your normal types of careers and businesses.
Clinton: It pays to look the part in this job and presentation is all-important.
Geeling: I think the key things that I look for when I’m employing new people is, first, skills – if it’s someone experienced then I expect a certain range of skills; if it’s someone inexperienced then, if they’ve got basic balancing qualities they’ll be OK. Then I need to find out whether or not they genuinely like people – that is really, really important. If you don’t like people, find another job.
Clinton: Ashleigh helps apprentice Trevlyn wipe down the tables.
Trevlyn: OK, so now we just have to – since we have sprayed and wiped the tables, we just have to put side plates on all the tables. So if you just want to grab those and we’ll start.
Clinton: Setting the tables up for the lunchtime crowds is thirsty work – which brings us to another part of the job – making and serving drinks. Here to show Ashleigh the tricks of the trade is bar manager Mark Holland.
Mark: We’re going to make a Soul cocktail.
Ashleigh: Soul cocktail?
Mark: One of our signature cocktails. It’s called a Strawberry, so what you need to do is grab one of these Boston shakers. You grab the silver and then grab the glass as well.
Clinton: First up a good handful of lime wedges.
Mark: Yep, that’s it. Give it a good squish.
Clinton: Next up a nip of something a little stronger. A bit of this…and a bit of that…and it’s time to shake.
Mark: Going to have to do it harder. You should hear it... That’s it!
Mark: And then you tip it up like that…
Clinton: And it’s all about the finishing touches.
Mark: And there you have one strawberry cocktail.
Clinton: Seventeen-year-old Tom Martin is one year into his apprenticeship.
Ashleigh: So do you need any qualifications to get into this industry?
Tom: To get into the hospitality industry you don’t have to have any qualifications at all. You can just come from absolutely nowhere and start as a runner or a waiter or a barman, or you can have a manager's degree and start working there as well, it doesn’t matter what you’ve been doing, what you’ve done, there’s always work in the hospitality industry for you.
Geeling: I think it's important to do an apprenticeship because it gives you on-the-job training, and in this particular job, in this career, it's just invaluable having on-the-job training. It’s quite funny – sometimes I get people applying for jobs who have done degrees in hospitality but have had no real on-the-floor experience, and unfortunately when they start with me, they have to start from the bottom again, you know? Whereas the apprentices, they start from the bottom, they’re learning as they go. By the time they’ve finished their apprenticeship three years down the track, they are senior waiters, earning great money, and on the floor managing their own sections ready, probably, to take the next step into junior management.
Clinton: Another really important part of the job is meeting and greeting the customers.
Ashleigh: Hi, welcome to Soul Bar, is it just the two of you?
Ashleigh: It is.
Ashleigh: Would you like sit inside or outside?
Customer: It’s a lovely day.We could sit outside.
Ashleigh: OK, we’ve got our menus here. Would you like to come this way?
Geeling: You know one of the main things that I saw when you were doing that – you know why they were smiling?
Geeling: Because you were smiling!
Clinton: Next up Ashleigh dons her chef whites to meet head chef Gareth Stewart.
Gareth: Hiya, come in – don’t be scared!
Gareth: You like scallops?
Ashleigh: Yep, scallops are yummy.
Gareth: Yeah? You eat shellfish? Sweet. Now what you’re going to do is just take your scallop – oh these are a good size, and if you see any of these muscle bits, you’re going to cut the muscle off to make sure that everything is really, really nice for the customers.
Ashleigh: OK, that’s sounds good.
Gareth: Alright, sweet.
Gareth: You’ve got 10 minutes to get it done, come on!
Ashleigh: OK, going!
Ashleigh: What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Gareth: The pressure I think – I think all chefs are addicted to pressure, and creating different dishes. I guess that’s probably what I enjoy most.
Ashleigh: When you look at people waiting and stuff, you think, 'Yeah – it’s just a part time job, I can go get it any time and stuff.' But what people don’t realise, and what I realised working here, is that it is a profession – that you can progress a lot in this industry, you can come up to owning your own restaurant one day.
Geeling: I think Ashleigh did really, really well, you know. She was just incredibly enthusiastic, she was really open to learning new things, and she was very, very friendly, so I think she has a great career ahead of her.
Clinton: With the National Certificate in Hospitality you can start at Level 3 (Food and Beverage Service) and work towards the more specialist Level 4 qualification. In cookery there is a National Certificate in Hospitality Level 3 and the National Certificate in Hospitality Level 4. Many of the skills learnt are transferable such as customer service and management skills. The industry is growing at a rapid rate and career progression opportunities are excellent. The hospitality qualification is internationally recognised and can be taken with you wherever you go.
You generally need to be at least 18 years old to work as a bartender. There are no other specific entry requirements for bartenders, as training is done on the job.
Many courses are available in bartending and cocktail-making, some of which are run as part of more in-depth hospitality courses.
Bartenders may work towards a National Certificate in Hospitality (Food and Beverage) Level 3 while on the job.
- ServiceIQ website - information about training for work in bars
- New Zealand Bartenders Guild website - information about bartending training and courses
There are no specific secondary education requirements, but maths may be useful.
Bartenders need to be:
- friendly and polite
- mature and honest
- adaptable and able to work well under pressure
- confident and empathetic when dealing with customers
- able to use their initiative
- able to follow instructions
- good at maths.
You need to be able to talk to people – that's the main priority. If you want to stay in hospitality get a job in a place where you can learn new skills.
Callum Grant - Bartender
Useful experience for bartenders includes work in customer service, particularly as a waiter/waitress, or experience serving drinks.
Bartenders need to have a tidy appearance, and good hearing. They also need good upper body strength as they may need to lift heavy cases of drink.
Find out more about training
- Hospitality New Zealand
- email@example.com - www.hospitalitynz.org.nz
- NZ Bartenders Guild
- (03) 445 3399 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzbg.co.nz
- 0800 863 693 - email@example.com - www.serviceiq.org.nz
Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
High turnover means vacancies common
Chances of getting a job are generally good for bartenders – particularly those with previous experience. This is because:
- vacancies arise often – bartenders usually work on a casual or part-time basis, and tend to stay in the job for a short time only
- hospitality is a large industry, employing about 126,000 people.
Employers report difficulty finding skilled bartenders, so your chances of securing a job are best if you have relevant qualifications and/or experience in the industry.
Holiday periods, such as Christmas/New Year and summer, are good times to find casual and part-time work.
Types of employers varied
Bartenders may work in:
- bars and pubs
- nightclubs or dance venues.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Robertson, B, chief executive officer, Hospitality New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, January 2015, (www.hospitalitynz.org.nz).
- ServiceIQ, Careers New Zealand interview, December 2014, (www.serviceiq.org.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Bartenders may progress to work as bar managers. To become a bar manager you need to be at least 20 years old, hold a Licence Controller Qualification (LCQ) and a Manager's Certificate, both of which are administered by ServiceIQ.
Last updated 5 April 2018