Bartending can be a lot of fun. Perhaps you enjoy the fast-paced atmosphere of bars, or maybe you’ve always had a fascination with the idea of creating elaborate, fancy cocktails. Interested in getting started with learning how to become a bartender? You’ve come to the right place!
Whether you’re a student looking for a way to make extra cash in the evenings or are wanting to start a new career in the events and entertainment industry, bartending could be the perfect fit for you.
The great news is that the process of becoming a bartender is a relatively straightforward one. Read on to learn more about how to become a bartender in Australia.
How to become a bartender in Australia
To get started as a bartender, you’ll need to have a basic knowledge of the bartending craft and the tools of the trade. You will also need to be physically capable of standing for long periods of time and lifting items such as kegs and cases of alcohol.
In Australia, you’re also required to hold a valid Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate in order to sell and/or serve alcohol.
What qualification do you need to become a bartender?
Before you work in a bar in Australia, you’ll need to obtain a valid RSA from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). This qualification will provide you with the knowledge and skills to legally sell and serve alcohol.
You may also wish to complete additional training courses that are specific to the type of bartending you choose to do. For example, those that wish to serve more elaborate cocktails might like to undertake a mixology course that teaches how to make a number of cocktails.
How to complete an RSA course
Before applying for a job as a bartender, you should obtain your RSA certificate along with any other relevant qualifications. An RSA can be completed through an RTO such as Express Online Training. As of February 2023, we provide online RSA courses for those wishing to serve and sell alcohol across all Australian states and territories. Simply complete the RSA that applies to the state or territory you wish to work in. If you’re interested in travelling around or having the flexibility to work across multiple states, you might like to consider completing the RSA – All States bundle. This will allow you to serve and sell alcohol in all states and territories throughout the country.
Our online RSA courses are designed to work on smartphones, tablets, and computers, with the course able to be completed across any of these as needed. It can also be paused and restarted at any time, which is helpful for those who are busy. We also provide locally-based support, 7 days a week from fully qualified individuals.
As soon as you successfully pass your course and complete your enrollment information, you can obtain your RSA. This can be automatically sent to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it doesn’t matter when you complete your course.
Decide what type of bartending you would like to do
There are different types of bartending to choose from, what you do may depend on the jobs available in your area plus your interests. Some people might be most interested in working at a speakeasy or cocktail bar, others might prefer the energy of a club, or the calmer environment of a family pub or RSL environment.
Figuring out the type of environment you want to work in can also help you work out whether you need any further qualifications, such as an RCG/RSG (Responsible Service of Gambling).
You should also consider the time of day you wish to be working. Bartender jobs typically involve working late nights, but there are a few that require shifts during the day.
Think about how many hours a week you wish to work. For example, if you’re a student, or have a second job, you may only be looking for 10 to 15 hours a week, whereas those after a primary job might be looking for 30 to 40 hours.
By working out exactly what you want from your bartending career, you can ensure you only apply for roles that suit your requirements.
Start apply for bartending jobs
Once you’ve successfully completed an RSA certificate and decided on the type of work you’d like to do, it’s time to start applying for jobs. Depending on the place, you may need to apply online or hand your resume in personally.
There are several places to look for bartending work, including job sites, social media pages of the places you wish to work, and posted job advertisements at the bar or club.
If applying in person, it’s a good idea to dress smartly and be ready to chat about your experience and qualifications if needed. When applying online, it’s important to make sure your resume is up to date and that you provide all the necessary details.
The job application process can seem a little repetitive and overwhelming at times, but just remember that someone has to get the job, and there’s every chance it could be you. Don’t let this stage get you down, and try to maintain a positive outlook.
Begin as a glassy
Those interested in learning how to become a bartender might like to begin working as a glassy first. The club or bar that you would like to work at might have a glassy position available but not one for a bartender. This is a slightly different route for becoming a bartender. Once you’re hired, mention to management that you would love the opportunity to work as a bartender one day. Hopefully, once you demonstrate your commitment and strong work ethic, they’ll give you a chance when a position opens up. If not, the good news is you can apply for bartending positions at other venues with experience working in an alcohol service environment.
Master the art of drink pouring
While you’re waiting to hear back from venues about potential positions, don’t forget to practise drink pouring. While an RSA course will teach you how to measure standard drinks, you’ll need to learn how to create different cocktails in your own time.
To begin, you might like to learn how to pour beers with the right amount of head and how to create simple cocktails such as the vodka and soda. After mastering these more simple tasks, slowly move up to more tricky tasks. If you really want to challenge yourself (and hopefully impress future employers!) have a go at trying to perfect more complex cocktails.
There are countless cocktails you can learn to make, so have a search online or in cocktail books for how to make your favourites. Some examples could include Mojitos, Old Fashioned, Martinis, Bloody Mary and Long Island Iced Tea.
Tips for how to become a bartender
Practice makes perfect
You’ll want to feel confident with the basics before beginning a trial shift. These basics could include how to pour a beer, plus how to create the basic cocktails such as rum and coke, vodka and soda, and gin and tonic. To get your mixing skills up to scratch, be sure to put in plenty of hours of practice beforehand!
The practice shouldn’t end once you secure a job. Continue to learn and improve your skills, or start learning more about mixing more complex cocktails. By putting time aside to hone your craft, you should see your skills and technique improving.
Set your goals
Setting goals is a good way to ensure you meet your targets and progress forward in your job search. These could include anything from learning how to make all the basic cocktails, completing additional training, or the number of jobs you apply for each week. Maybe you want to hit the goal of 10 applications a day, or 100 applications in a week. Perhaps you want to finish your RSA certificate before a particular peak time.
Keep plenty of resumes on hand
Make sure you print out enough resumes to canvas an area of bars. Running out of resumes halfway can be incredibly annoying, and less time efficient. Also, don’t feel like you can only apply for jobs that have an ad for a position in the window. If there is a place you’d really like to work at, there’s no harm in dropping your resume in and asking if they can keep it on file for when a position comes up. Always be prepared to speak with those hiring about your qualifications and be happy to demonstrate your skills.
Combine and save
Express Online Training offers bundle deals that allow you to combine other qualifications with your RSA and save money. For example, we have an RSA + RSG bundle with the RSA valid in QLD, WA, SA, NT, ACT, and the RSG valid in QLD, WA, NT. We also have the RSA – All States certificate, which allows you to serve and sell alcohol in any Australian state or territory.
The process of how to become a bartender can be a relatively straightforward one. Simply complete an RSA with an RTO such as Express Online Training, and then search for a job while continuing to hone your skills.
If you’re struggling to land a bartending job straight off the bat, don’t be afraid to apply for another position in a bar (such as a glassy), then do your best to work your way up from there. Good luck on your adventure of becoming a bartender!