Bar Person/Manager

The Job and What's Involved

A bar person serves drinks, snacks and often hot or cold food to customers in licensed premises such as pubs, clubs, wine bars, cafés, restaurants, hotels, or leisure centres. Bar managers are responsible for running all or part of any licensed establishment.

Typical daily tasks of a bar person may include:

  • Serving customers.
  • Taking payment, operating tills and balancing cash receipts.
  • Mixing cocktails and other special drinks.
  • Chatting with customers to make them feel welcome.
  • Checking the details of customers who appear under age.
  • Dealing with people who drink too much and preventing aggressive or rowdy behaviour.
  • Assisting with special customer promotions such as karaoke or quiz nights.
  • Setting out tables and bar furniture before opening time.
  • Making sure the bar is well stocked.
  • Keeping the bar area and equipment clean.
  • Washing glasses and storing the empty bottles.
  • Cleaning and clearing the tables regularly.

They may also cook simple meals or provide table service.

The job of a bar manager can vary from place to place, but may include some or all of the following:

  • Recruiting, training and supervising staff.
  • Arranging staff rotas and time off.
  • Setting price levels and ensuring sales targets are met.
  • Stocktaking, ordering from suppliers and arranging deliveries.
  • Keeping the books and paying wages.
  • Dealing securely with large amounts of cash.
  • Enforcing the law on the sale of alcohol on licensed premises.
  • Ensuring that health and safety requirements are met.
  • Dealing with legal paperwork.
  • Finding ways to improve customer service and attract new customers.
  • Organising and Youth Service ICT promotions or special events.
  • Building good relationships with breweries, the police, licensing authorities, tradespersons and others in the local community.
  • Standing in as a bar person as needed.

The hours of work in a bar may be long and almost always involve evening or weekend work, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. Full-time employees usually work shifts, but many bar staff work part time. Jobs can be seasonal.

Bars are usually indoors. When it is busy, the bar may be hot, noisy and crowded. The work requires long periods of standing and usually involves lifting and carrying crates, beer barrels and boxes. High standards of health and hygiene are important. Bar staff may be expected to wear a uniform.

Large companies now offer benefits such as pension and health schemes and performance bonuses. Staff in some establishments receive tips or get free meals when on duty. Some may be offered free accommodation at their place of work.

The starting salary for a bar person is at least £9,000 a year. Trainee bar managers earn around £13,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are about 344,500 bar staff in the UK. Employers range from small bars, clubs and hotels to national chains of breweries and pub management companies ('pubcos') as well as multinational companies involved in the wider hospitality and catering industry. The demand for bar staff is high as the hospitality industry is continuing to expand. Opportunities exist throughout the UK.

Springboard UK offers a free careers advisory service to people wishing to enter the industry. Their website at www.springboarduk.org.uk also advertises vacancies. Further information about work in pubs can be found at www.beerandpub.com and many of the industry's leading companies have their own websites that advertise vacancies. Vacancies are also advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices, in the local and national press, in the specialist trade press and on websites such as www.publican.com and www.caterer.com.

Education and Training

Most employers look for people with outgoing, pleasant personalities and the right attitude, rather than any set qualifications. The minimum age to work in a bar is normally 18. Apprenticeships in food and drink service or hospitality may be available.

There is a range of relevant vocational qualifications available for those who would prefer to take a further education course before entering the industry. These include BTEC First and National Diploma in Hospitality.

Larger companies sometimes offer management traineeships for graduates and for those with experience.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most employers arrange on-the-job training for new entrants and many of the large companies provide in-house training courses.

NVQ's/SVQ's are available in:

- Food and Drink Service at Levels 2 and 3
- Bar Service at Level 2
- Hospitality Supervision at Levels 3 and 4.

The British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB) offers a variety of qualifications for bar persons and bar managers in Great Britain, including courses specifically developed for the licensed trade in Scotland.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offers foundation, intermediate and advanced courses in wines and spirits.

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You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A bar person/manager should be:

  • A friendly and outgoing person with a sense of humour.
  • Honest and trustworthy.
  • Good at handling cash.
  • Good at memorising orders.
  • Tactful, but firm, when dealing with difficult customers.
  • Observant.
  • Physically fit with plenty of stamina.
  • Able to work well with others.
  • Calm under pressure.

Bar managers should also have:

  • Good organisational and planning skills.
  • Good financial and numerical skills.
  • The ability to spot new business opportunities.

Your Long Term Prospects

Prospects for promotion are excellent for people who are hard working and determined to succeed. With experience and training, bar persons may progress to become supervisors, assistant bar managers and bar managers, often in a relatively short space of time.

In large companies, managers can also progress to area management or head office opportunities in areas such as marketing, property or business development.

Those who hold the appropriate licence can become self-employed and run their own pub. They may buy a freehold pub or apply to become a tenant or manager for a large brewery.

For all levels of staff, there are many opportunities to work abroad.

Get Further Information

The British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB),
Wessex House, 80 Park Street, Camberley, Surrey GU15 3PT
Tel: 01276 684449
Website: www.biiab.org

British Beer & Pub Association, Market Towers,
1 Nine Elms Lane, London SW8 5NQ
Tel: 020 7627 9191
Website: www.beerandpub.com

People 1st, 2nd Floor,
Armstrong House, 38 Market Square, Uxbridge UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000
Website: www.people1st.co.uk

Springboard UK Head Office,
3 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LP
Tel: 020 7497 8654
Website: www.springboarduk.org.uk

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust,
International Wine and Spirit Centre, 39-45 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Tel: 020 7089 3800
Website: www.wset.co.uk

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