If you’ve ever thought about becoming a bartender, there are many different ways to get into this interesting and potentially well-paying field. The least expensive and most difficult thing is to find someone to train you for free because most places don’t have the time or an expert trainer.

Your second option is to buy a drink recipe book and start memorizing hundreds of recipes. Not a good idea because you may be memorizing hundreds of unpopular recipes. The easiest and most expensive way is to go to a bartending school. Although there are articles on the internet from so called “experts” trashing bartending schools and calling them scams. None of them claim to have attended a bartending school or even visited one. It seems your misinformation is coming from a few bartenders or bar owners and not grads. Some bar owners will not hire a graduate and that is their choice. This is usually because the establishment is extremely high volume and the grad doesn’t have enough speed to handle the bar patrons and servers. For every establishment like this, there are many others where a graduate’s skills are more than adequate to get the job done.

You will rarely hear a negative comment about a bartending school from a bartender who has graduated from an accredited, state-licensed bartending school. Negative feedback comes from insecure non-graduates who feel threatened because graduates are more knowledgeable and better trained. Where else can you get trained for a high paying job in just 1-2 weeks? Especially when you get your investment back in a few days of bartending. Not all bartending schools are the same. There are many who call themselves bartending schools but they are scams.

These are things that one should consider when choosing a school. Does the school have a state license? State-chartered bartending schools must meet curriculum requirements, be financially secure, have adequate training facilities, and have approved instructors. Can you see a class in progress? This will allow you to talk to current students to find out if they like the bartending school. Does the school have an actual bar and working bar equipment and tools? How long is the training program? Beware of schools with short classes of 1 or 2 days. There is no way you can learn to be a professional mixologist in less than 32 hours of hands-on training. Does the school have an actual job placement department and can they show you a list of current job opportunities? How long has the school been in business? If it’s only been open a short time, they could be here today and gone tomorrow.

Don’t make a decision on price alone. A short, inexpensive bartending course may save you a few bucks, but it won’t give you enough practice time behind the bar to build your speed and confidence.

Be a smart consumer. Don’t make a decision on a phone call or a website. If you really want to work as a bartender, put the time and effort into making sure you get what you pay for.

Is the school a member of the Better Business Bureau or can it show you a license from the state department of education? There are many good schools that can start you on the right track.