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The Career Progression of a Bartender

The Bartender - that young person who doesn't really seem to care about slinging you whiskey dry's all night and isn’t aware this industry is one of the biggest and most profitable in the world!

I never intended to get “stuck” in the hospitality industry; I personally wanted to pursue a career in Photography. But I’ve been in it for about 10 years now. It has been great friend and helped me challenge myself, helped me to grow professionally and personally and it’s helped me travel the world. Here is a short list of how the progression ladder works in the industry.*

1. Bartender / Entry level job – Like most jobs, you will have to start at the bottom, usually sweeping stock room floors or washing glassware. But don't be down hearted, you’ll still get around $18-$20 an hour and we all have to start somewhere! My big tip here is to be quick and clean with no back chat. To qualify for such a position you really don't need much in the way of qualifications, an up to date RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certificate is a must and I would highly recommend a Bartender course or Barista course if in charge of making hot beverages.

2. Assistant Manager - Once you've proven that you can man your own station behind the bar, remember the entire beverage menu, solve problems and generally be a confident and reliable staff member, the next progression is to assistant manager or assistant bar manager, With a degree, you may be trusted with more responsibility. You may also qualify for more advanced jobs after some years of experience on the service end. This position comes with you running the bar and being in charge of staff while the manager is off or away, ordering stock and conducting the roaster. In addition to this, the assistant manager is now a full time member of the staff on an annual wage, with benefits such as annual leave, sick pay and superannuation.

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3. General Manager - The next step is a bigger leap and usually filled once the current General Manager has left the business, this is the big fish. In charge of mainly everything in the bar or restaurant. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include much of making the cocktails or serving. This position comes after about 10 years’ experience in the industry with qualifications such as a degree in hospitality. You would oversee every aspect of management from operations to human resources, customer service, public relations, accounting and improving sales revenue. This is considered an executive level position, so you will often report directly to the owner.

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4. Owner - This is where the progression becomes interesting! You’ve spent the last 15 years slugging it away working for someone else and you now have the opportunity and the skills and qualifications to own your own bar. Design the menus and fit out exactly how you always wanted in the area of town that you’ve always told people would be perfect for a bar. This next step isn't as big as it seems, and recently a lot of ex bartenders in Sydney have accomplished this from Ramblin Rascal Tavern in Hyde Park or Earls Juke Joint in Newtown.

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5. The Brand Ambassador - This, like the owner position, is you taking control of your future with a long career in the drinks industry. The brand ambassador is a person who represents a brand to targeted customers in order to increase awareness, create a specific image, generate sales opportunities and build customer preference. It is a highly respected role in the alcohol industry.

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Develop your skills in our Bartending course or the Professional Bartending course at Sydney Bar School.

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