A bar worker serves customers in licensed premises - pubs, hotels, nightclubs, social clubs, restaurants, sports clubs, leisure centres and holiday parks.
You could be:
serving a range of drinks and snacks including sandwiches and hot food
taking orders, mixing and pouring drinks using special measures, perhaps carrying trays of drinks over to tables
collecting and washing glasses and keeping the bar and tables clean and tidy
helping stock up with drinks, ice and other items
chatting to customers to make them welcome
using tills, collecting money and giving change
asking customers who look underage for proof of identification
dealing with rowdy, drunken or difficult customers, perhaps by refusing to serve them
helping to organise and run events such as quiz nights and live music events.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting pay is often based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW).
As of 1 April 2022 the National Minimum Wage is £6.83 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and £9.18 an hour for workers aged 21 to 22. The National Living Wage is £9.50 for workers aged 23 and over. In addition you will usually have a share of the tips.
You work shifts involving long and unsocial hours, often in the evenings and at weekends.
You might have to lift heavy barrels or crates of beer or wine.
Busy periods can be stressful as many people make demands on you at the same time.
Conditions can be crowded and noisy - sometimes there is loud music.
You do not need formal qualifications but a good general education is useful.
You might get in through a Modern Apprenticeship in Hospitality and work towards SVQs.
You could study the Foundation Apprenticeship in Hospitality (SCQF Level 4 or 5) in S3-S6, which can help to get into a relevant Modern Apprenticeship.
You must be over 18 to serve alcohol and work in a bar.
You may be able to get a job before turning 18 as a glass collector and washer.
There are plenty of openings for bar workers, particularly in cities and larger towns. In rural areas work may be seasonal, according to the busy tourist times.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
honest and reliable
able to chat easily to a wide range of people
assertive to deal with difficult customers or situations
able to remain calm under pressure
quick and accurate with numbers
able to multitask.
You should also have:
stamina, for working long, busy shifts
a smart appearance
an enthusiastic and friendly nature
a good sense of humour
the ability to memorise orders.
Training is usually on the job.
There are SVQs in Hospitality Services at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 or Food and Beverage Service at SCQF Level 5.
Under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 all staff serving or selling alcohol must receive at least two hours of basic training before they can sell or serve alcohol. Employers are expected to provide the training.
ServeWise, part of the national alcohol charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, runs various courses for the licensed trade. This includes courses that meet the staff training requirements of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. Pubs, hotels and bars usually book the courses to run in-house, or buy into the ServeWise online staff course (www.servewiseonline.co.uk/).