How Long Does Bartending School Take?
Before answering the question of how long it takes to study bartending, let’s make one thing clear: It is possible to become a bartender without going to a bartending school. Those who take this route usually start as wait staff and move on to become an assistant to the bartender or a barback whose main job is to clean the bar. After learning the basics of mixing some drinks from the experienced bartender, the barback may then do bartending duties during not-so-busy times. Becoming a bartender this way takes too long and even with all those years of experience, there is still no guarantee that the bartender who learns on the job knows everything about mixing and serving drinks.
This is the reason why it often pays to attend a bartending school. Standard bartending programs that are licensed by the state typically take forty hours or more to complete. This usually takes anywhere from one to five weeks to finish, depending on the student’s pacing. The Professional Bartending Schools of America, for example, has a Professional Mixology course which teaches students how to prepare 125 traditional and trendy drinks in ten bartending classes of four-hour lessons. Students have to pass a final test to be able to graduate from the course.
ABC Bartending Schools of America also has a forty-hour bartending class. Students can finish the course in one or two weeks. As part of their training to help students build speed and confidence, instructors call out drink recipes for students to prepare in class. Upon graduation, a student is able to prepare such drink recipes as daiquiris, margaritas and hundreds of others.
Another bartending school that offers forty-hour classes to aspiring bartenders is Elite Bartending School. It provides morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes. Aside from teaching students how to mix drinks, the curriculum also includes the kinds of glassware needed for the job, customer service, cash handling, rules and regulation of bartending and the process of identification and identifying fake IDs and POS computer training, among others.
Most bartending schools have flexible schedules to cater to the needs of their students. Some also give students unlimited chances of passing their final exams in case they don’t pass it the first time around. They also allow students to attend classes again and again at no extra cost so that the students will be able to hone their bartending skills.
Another service offered by bartending schools is a job placement service. They typically have linkages with bars around the area that also call them in case they have a need for bartenders. Because of this service, many who graduate from the course are able to get a job right away.
Aspiring bartenders who are thinking of taking up online bartending classes should look closely at these online programs before enrolling. This is because most of them are not accredited by the state. Another disadvantage with online course is that students don’t get hands-on experience since the courses are taught through videos and books. As you may have guessed, it is virtually impossible for anyone to learn bartending skills without actually practicing them. With licensed bartending schools, students are taught the actual skills in a setup that mimics an actual bar so they are given exposure to the work right away. They are also taught by instructors who have also worked for a long time in the bar industry.
In some states, formal alcohol awareness training is required. This is different from the bartending program in a bartending school and may even be obtained online in states like California, Texas, Illinois, Utah and Wisconsin. In states like New York, Alaska, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Tennessee, bartenders are required to take an alcohol awareness course. The schedule is set by the state’s liquor control board. States like Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, Kentucky and New Jersey don’t require bartenders to have alcohol awareness certification.