Posted on: January 22, 2024
How Much Do Bartenders Make on Average With Tips?
When you make your living off of tips, it might be difficult to accurately predict your salary. Sometimes you have busy nights, while others are so slow you might walk away with nothing in your pocket. The amount you make can vary depending on a lot of different factors like venue, clientele, personality, skills, shifts, and pooled tips.
There are no assurances, but we can estimate based on data on bartender salaries across the US. Continue reading if you’re curious about your earning potential to see the average income of a bartender with and without tips.
Bartenders are known to make good money, but when broken down, how much do bartenders really make in a year? With tips, on average, bartenders earn $60,787.20 per year. Before tips, a bartender is looking at an average of $34,490 a year.
Income for a tipped job, such as bartending, is separated into two categories: base pay (an hourly rate) and tipped pay. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average (median) wage for a bartender in the United States as of May 2022 was $14.12 per hour. The bottom 10% of bartenders earned less than $9.18 per hour ($19,100 per year), while the top 10% earned more than $27.51/hour ($57,220 per year).
Any bartender will tell you tips are unpredictable. There are so many contributing factors, like the environment, the customer, your level of expertise, how busy your shifts are, and if tips are pooled. But, even a bartender's base pay, which is supposed to be predictable, will fluctuate.
Where you live affects the minimum wage rules and the number of people a business owner must hire for. The amount of pay over the local minimum wage you can expect will depend on the sort of business and the level of skill necessary.
Federal law sets the tipped minimum wage at $2.13 per hour. However, this can vary. Many businesses offer more and have greater standards. The business is required to make up any shortcomings in tips and pay out of pocket to bring employees up to the usual minimum wage ($7.25/hour) in places that permit a tip credit, although many don't. So, it is feasible to earn less than the government minimum wage.
Fortunately, bartenders frequently earn more than the tipped minimum wage because they aren't the lowest-paid tipped workers. The average national base pay is estimated differently by each website, however as of the beginning of March 2022, sites report:
- According to ZipRecruiter, $11 an hour is equivalent to around $23,000 per year.
- According to Indeed, $16 an hour translates to $48,363 per year.
Without tips, bartenders make an average of $12.55 per hour or $26,094 per year. This sum will change depending on a wide range of variables, such as location, bar theme, specific jobs, possession of a bartending license, available bartending equipment, and more.
According to Indeed, the average American bartender receives $150 in tips each day. You probably expected more. Maybe you've probably heard stories about bartenders making $1,000 or more per shift. Sadly, these stories are one-in-a-million.
The reality is pricing, venue, clientele, and the number of customers a bartender serves directly affect how much tip money they will make in a single night. It all depends. There will be a significant disparity in tip pay on weeknights against weekends, as well as slow nights versus busy evenings.
It’s also a good idea to keep in mind where you’re located. Tipping varies from state to state.
Reports have indicated which states offer the best tips, with the baseline of the standard tipping percentage for service being 15% throughout the states. With an average tipping rate of 20.47%, New Hampshire is the state where most bartenders would like to make a career. Idaho is the worst tipping state, with patrons tipping an average of 16.71%. The good news is that even at the extremes of the tipping spectrum, even the worst state tips more than average.
Bartenders earn the most in the following states:
- Arizona ($45,150)
- Hawaii ($44,680)
- Washington ($44,120)
- New York ($43,780)
- District of Columbia ($42,790)
It should be noted that these salaries may include tips because different businesses record pay in different ways. This can have a significant impact on a bartender's final take-home pay, so be sure you understand what is and isn't salary.
Bartenders have reported that they make the highest money when they work in resorts, hotels, restaurants, and breweries/distilleries/wineries. Bars and casinos provide a middle-class income. Civic, social, leisure and recreational amenities have the lowest wage.
Bartending pays well in places with a high cost of living, so it will balance out. Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, Boston, and Los Angeles are among the top metropolitan areas. Bartenders in these areas who work in high-end bars, restaurants, and hotels report making six figures a year.
If you have the necessary abilities and knowledge to thrive as well as a market-to-service, bartending will be a rewarding career. However, bartending can really cost you. Serving drunk and rowdy customers can be taxing. Serving underage patrons can result in liability and even responsibility for the customer's bad behavior.
That's why it's essential to understand local serving laws and potential penalties, which can range from criminal fines to civil lawsuits. In some states, bartenders must receive alcohol compliance training, but in other places, you may be granted some discretion provided your training is recent.
TIPS provides training for serving and selling alcohol that is recognized by the law in many jurisdictions.
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