How to Become a Bar Manager


Like many careers, there are many different paths to becoming a bar manager; this career is open to pretty much anyone with a combination of practical experience (or relevant education), strong interpersonal skills and an understanding of the bar business. 


This work would involve overseeing and scheduling staff, dealing with the public, working non-traditional hours, dealing with inventory, and offers room for advancement and opportunities for ownership. 


If this sounds like a promising career field, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on the details, such as how you can get into this profession, how much you could earn, and of course, what you’d be doing once you get there.



Educational Requirements

Formal post-secondary education isn’t typically needed to become a bar manager; working your way up is often enough.


However, many employers will prefer to hire, or will only hire, candidates that have a diploma or degree in a field related to hospitality management or general business management


Success Tip: Whether or not it’s required to start your career in bar management, having related post-secondary education can usually help you advance more quickly, and may help you develop competencies that will be of great value if you want to won your own bar.





Experience You May Need

If you don’t have a post-secondary education in a related field, not to worry. You can always work your way into the job by starting as host/hostess, bartender, server, doorperson (“bouncer”) or kitchen staff. From their, you can move into a supervisor role, and eventually into a management role, or just directly into a management role. 


You can also move into a bar manager job from an outside position (typically in some kind of service management capacity, preferably in the hospitality industry), provided some of the skills and competencies transfer well. 



Who Employs Bar Managers?

The hospitality industry is a large and diverse one. As a result, there are many different types of food and beverage establishments that employ one or several managers. This includes (but isn’t limited to):


• Bars that specialize in the service of wine, whiskey or craft beer 

• Banquet facilities (found within hotels, conference centres, and other locations)

• Brewpubs

• Hotel bars

• Nightclubs/dance bars

• Pubs


These bars may be owned privately, as part of a franchise, or as part of a publicly-traded corporation. Some bar managers are also self-employed, managing their own businesses.




Is This Career Right for You?

As a quick reference, you will be well-suited for this career if you have the following attributes:


• An interest in a fast-paced, public-facing, social career

• You’re not a fan of alarm clocks

• An interest in a career with opportunities for advancement into bar/restaurant ownership

• A willingness to work non-traditional hours

• You enjoy overseeing the work of others

• You’re well organized and can manage a budget

• You’re interested in managing the health, hygiene, safety and security of a workplace



Career Advancement Possibilities 

If you display competence and dedication in your work, career advancement opportunities will open themselves up to you. Examples of career opportunities for bar managers include (but aren’t limited to):


• An increase in wage or salary

• Partnership in the ownership of the bar

• Moving to a bigger, busier or more profitable location

• Moving into a district manager role

• Moving into corporate-level executive management positions with a large organization

• Moving into a specialized role in the food service/hospitality industry, such as sales representative

• Opening your own bar, restaurant or other such facility


Success Tip: Having an education related to restaurant, food service or hospitality management can usually help you advance more quickly, especially in corporate-level positions.





Details of the Job Itself: General Job Description

As a bar manager, you would be responsible for overseeing the operation of a bar, which includes hiring and training staff, special event planning, inventory control and marketing functions.



Typical Job Duties

Although your specific duties would vary from job to job, you could expect to be responsible for the following:


• Training new staff in methods and procedures

• Ensuring relevant health and safety standards are being upheld by back-of-house and front-of-house staff

• Ensuring alcohol-related legislation and fire codes are being adhered to

• Monitoring inventory levels to safeguard against waste and theft

• Ordering and receiving supplies and stock

• Liaising with the kitchen manager regarding food quality and preparation time

• Ensuring customers are satisfied with the level of service they are receiving from staff

• Supervising staff and ensuring that performance standards are upheld

• Performing marketing and promotional functions

• Setting a good example to staff regarding punctuality, attendance and attitude

• Booking entertainers to perform in the bar, such as bands, comedians and others

• Conducting regular price checks of products being purchased to ensure that products are being bought at the best prices available



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a bar manager can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (levels of education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties and responsibilities

• Whether you are a salaried employee or paid by the hour

• The type of remuneration package you are offered (such as if you get tips and bonuses, or partial ownership)


Bar Manager Salary - Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Restaurant & Food Service Managers occupational group earn an average salary of $43,739 per year.


Bar Manager Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Food Service Managers occupational group is $48,690 per year, with  the highest 10% earning more than $83,000 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 13, 2019).



Bar Management Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "Bar Manager" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Work Environment Common to This Profession

Hours: Your working hours could vary quite widely from one job to the next. Some duties would be performed during the bar’s operating hours (such as supervising the operation of the bar), while others would be performed when the bar is closed (such as inventory management, hiring, and some marketing-related tasks). You might also be called in to work on short notice including evenings, weekends, and holidays.


Setting: You would likely work within the bar itself for a good portion of your time, in order to supervise staff, service, and general operation. Other duties would be based out of an office that could be located within the bar, a different building, or possibly from your own home. The bar itself could be a stand-alone building, or it could be located in a hotel, sports complex, strip mall, or various other locations. 


Conditions: The job of a bar manager can often be quite hectic, as you would have to deal with dissatisfied or intoxicated customers, staff not showing up for shifts, running out of stock during a busy rush, or for a host of other reasons. It can also be un upbeat and social environment to be in.



Similar Occupational Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as 'Bar Manager':


Event Planner

Food Service Manager

Restaurant Critic

Restaurant Manager


Retail Manager

Small Business Owner

Wedding Planner




The following resources were utilized in the preparation of this career guide:


Occupations in Alberta:Restaurant Manager.” (March 28, 2017). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 5, 2019.

Management:Food Service Managers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 5, 2019.

Food Preparation & Service:Bartenders.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 5, 2019.

Job Profile:Public House Manager.” AGCAS editors (March, 2018). Prospects website. Retrieved November 5, 2019.




Scholarships for Becoming a Bar Manager

The 'Relevant Fields of Study' section below shows fields of study relevant to this career. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on the following pages:


Human Resources Scholarships

Management Scholarships

Marketing Scholarships

Organizational Leadership Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming a bar manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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