Kaitiaki Pae Inu
Bartenders prepare and serve drinks in bars, restaurants and clubs.
Bartenders usually earn
$21-$22 per hour
Source: Restaurant Association of New Zealand and PayScale, 2018.
Pay for bartenders varies depending on experience, but most earn between minimum wage and $22 an hour.
Sources: Restaurant Association of New Zealand, '2017 Remuneration Survey', 2018; and PayScale, 2018.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(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:
- make, serve, and take orders for 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 and monitor gaming machines
- ensure that customers don't 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 often work evenings and weekends
- work in pubs, hotels, restaurants and clubs
- may have to deal with rowdy or drunk people, and work in hot, noisy conditions.
What's the job really like?
Reading people a key skill for bartenders
"People skills are a big thing in hospitality. You can see how tight it is behind the bar. If you can't read your colleagues and you're not communicating very well, or your people skills are lacking, you can really start annoying others.
"If I'm walking in front of a glass washer with a tray of pint glasses and I don't say anything and someone turns around to pour a beer – that pint rack is on the floor, there's glass everywhere.
"You can also get yourself or the business in trouble if you aren't confident reading a customer's intoxication levels. I can remember how hard it was the first time I did that."
Focus on the customer
"The main thing in this job is making sure customers are happy, and looking after them. Greeting the customers at the bar, finding out what they want, if they want a drinks menu, obviously having a little bit of conversation.
"If you've got great customer service skills you'll thrive."
To become a bartender you generally need to be at least 18 years old. There are no other specific requirements, as you gain skills on the job.
Bartenders may work towards a New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality – Food and Beverage (Level 3) while on the job. Industry training organisation ServiceIQ oversees workplace assessments.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a bartender. However, maths may be useful.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
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.
Bartenders need to be:
- friendly and polite
- mature and honest
- able to concentrate for long periods
- able to work well under pressure
- able to use initiative
- able to follow instructions
- good at maths.
If you’ve got great concentration even when you’re tired, that’s a very good thing to have as a bartender.
Useful experience for bartenders includes work in customer service, particularly as a waiter/waitress, or experience serving drinks.
Bartenders need to have:
- good hearing
- strong arms as they may have to lift heavy cases of drink
- a reasonable level of stamina as they may be on their feet for long periods.
Bartenders also need to be comfortable working in confined spaces.
Find out more about training
- Hospitality New Zealand
- 0800 500 503 - www.hospitality.org.nz
- 0800 863 693 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.serviceiq.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Good demand for bartenders due to a shortage of workers
Job opportunities for bartenders are good because low unemployment and an increase in job vacancies means there is a shortage of people available to do this role.
According to the Census, 4,947 bartenders worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Types of employers varied
Bartenders may work in:
- bars and pubs
- hotels and function centres
- nightclubs or dance venues.
- Bamber, I, special projects manager, Wellington Hospitality Group, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2018.
- Court, R, 'Silver Service from Hospo Staff', 16 October 2018, (nzherald.co.nz).
- Restaurant Association of New Zealand, '2018 Hospitality Report', September 2018, (www.scoop.co.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Clearwater, M, senior advisor, Service IQ – Workforce Development, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2020.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Bartenders may progress to work as bar or duty managers.
Last updated 1 April 2022