Career Development

What Does a Barback Do?

Find out what a barback does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a barback.

Barbacks are the behind-the-scenes workers of the hospitality industry. They’re responsible for setting up, breaking down, and maintaining the bar area before, during, and after service. They’re often the first people to arrive at a bar or restaurant in the morning and the last to leave at night.

Barback Job Duties

A barback typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Serving as a bartender’s assistant by stocking liquor, mixing drinks, making garnishes, and cleaning glassware
  • Cleaning and maintaining work areas and equipment such as bar tops, stools, and glass racks
  • Collecting tickets from customers to ensure that they have paid for their drinks
  • Maintaining and preparing alcoholic beverage inventory for storage or service
  • Cleaning and restocking bar equipment such as blenders, juicers, ice machines, and glassware
  • Setting up and taking down bar equipment such as cocktail shakers, cocktail strainers, bottle openers, ice buckets, strainers, and shakers
  • Preparing non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee, tea, and juice for customers who request them
  • Operating a cash register to ring up customers’ orders or assisting the bartender in this task if he or she does not have his or her own register
  • Cleaning up spilled drinks or broken glassware, replacing empty drink containers, collecting trash, and other cleanup tasks

Barback Salary & Outlook

Barbacks are typically paid hourly, and their salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the company they work for, and the city or state in which they work.

  • Median Annual Salary: $27,500 ($13.22/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $53,500 ($25.72/hour)

The employment of barbacks is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

As the population grows and people continue to drink alcoholic beverages, there will be a need for more bartenders. In addition, the popularity of craft breweries and distilleries is expected to increase the demand for barbacks.

Related: In-Depth Barback Salary Guide

Barback Job Requirements

A barback typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Barbacks need to have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate.

Training & Experience: Barbacks can learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training may include how to clean and maintain the bar, how to prepare and serve drinks, how to stock and organize the bar and how to operate the cash register.

Certifications & Licenses: Though not required, barbacks can consider earning a certification to improve their chances of getting a job and increasing their earning potential.

Barback Skills

Barbacks need the following skills in order to be successful:

Inventory control: Barbacks are responsible for keeping track of the inventory in the bar. This includes keeping track of the number of bottles, kegs and cans of alcohol, as well as keeping track of the number of glasses, bottles and cans of non-alcoholic beverages. Keeping track of inventory is an important skill for a barback to have.

Mixology: Barbacks should have a basic understanding of how to make cocktails and other drinks. This can help them when they’re working with a bartender and can help them learn how to make drinks if the bar they work at doesn’t have a full-time bartender.

Patience: Barbacks often work with a variety of customers, including those who are in a rush, those who are intoxicated and those who are unfamiliar with the bar’s menu. Having patience can help barbacks remain calm and friendly, even when faced with challenging situations.

Cash handling: Barbacks are responsible for handling cash transactions for the bar. They should be familiar with the proper cash handling procedures for their workplace. This includes counting money, handling cash transactions and keeping track of the bar’s cash.

Service bars: Barbacks work in service bars, which means they are responsible for the bar area where patrons order drinks. This includes stocking the bar, cleaning the bar area and keeping the bar area organized. Barbacks need to be able to multitask and work quickly to ensure the bar area is always ready for patrons.

Barback Work Environment

Barbacks are responsible for keeping the bar area clean and stocked with supplies. They work in fast-paced environments and are on their feet for long periods of time. They must be able to lift heavy cases of liquor and beer and be able to handle the stress of a busy bar. Barbacks typically work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Some barbacks may work full time, while others may work part time.

Barback Trends

Here are three trends influencing how barbacks work. Barbacks will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Shift from Corporate Events to Social Events

The shift from corporate events to social events is a trend that is being driven by the younger generation. This generation is more interested in socializing and networking than they are in attending formal events.

As a result, businesses are starting to move away from traditional corporate events and are instead hosting social events that allow employees to interact in a more informal setting. This provides an opportunity for barbacks to showcase their skills and create connections with potential employers.

The Emergence of the Micro-Bar

The micro-bar is an emerging trend in the hospitality industry that is seeing increasing popularity among consumers. This trend is characterized by small, intimate bars that offer a unique and personal experience for guests.

As the micro-bar trend grows, barbacks will need to be able to adapt and create a unique experience for guests that sets their bar apart from the competition. This will require a deep understanding of the products and services that they offer, as well as the ability to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Greater Focus on After Hours Dining

As the economy continues to improve, more and more people are spending their money on dining out. This is leading to a greater focus on after hours dining, which is creating opportunities for barbacks.

Barbacks can capitalize on this trend by becoming familiar with the latest trends in cocktails and cuisine. They can also work on developing relationships with restaurant owners and managers, so that they can be the first to know about new opportunities.

How to Become a Barback

A career as a barback can be the first step to a career in the hospitality industry. As a barback, you’ll learn the basics of bartending and get experience working in a busy bar. This is a great opportunity to learn about different types of alcohol, cocktails, and beer. You’ll also learn about customer service and how to work as part of a team.

As you progress in your career, you can move up to become a bartender or even a manager. Alternatively, you could use your experience as a barback to move into another role in the hospitality industry, such as event planner or catering manager.

Related: How to Write a Barback Resume

Advancement Prospects

Barbacks typically start out working in low-level positions and advance to higher-level positions as they gain experience. Some barbacks may eventually become bartenders or bar managers.

To advance to a higher-level position, barbacks need to demonstrate strong customer service skills, the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, and the ability to work well under pressure. They also need to be able to lift heavy objects and stand for long periods of time.

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