Bar Attendant

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: > 50,000
Median weekly earnings: < $900
Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
There are approximately 3,250 bar attendants in South Australia. More than half of bar attendants employed are females. The median age for those employed in this occupation is 23 years with only around a third working full-time. This work is therefore largely based on part-time and casual work opportunities. Majority are employed in the Accommodation, Cafés and Restaurants industry.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Bar Attendant


  • One bartender says there are many aspects to his job as a bartender that he enjoys but, most of all, its the work environment. 'Its fun', he says. 'You are allowed to enjoy yourself when working behind the bar'. In fact, in most cases, you are expected to! 'Most bartenders begin their shift by preparing the bar and adjoining area. They set up tables with drink coasters, ashtrays and if food is being served, plates and cutlery. Throughout their shift, the serving and adjoining bar area has to be kept clean and tidy and in some licensed premises this is the bartender's duty.

  • Entry into this occupation is generally through a Certificate II or higher qualification. In some instances relevant work experience is required in addition to the formal qualification. Currently 14% of bar attendants have Certificate III or IV; 6% have Bachelor degrees. Around 68% have no post-school qualifications. It is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Certificate II, III IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Hospitality.

    Still Unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as World of Bartending, Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) and Liquor Licensing Laws. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

    Traineeships are available for this occupation; for further information go to the Traineeship and Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

  • Nearly 50% of bar attendants work in pubs, taverns or bars and 13% work in nightclubs. Work can also be sought in cafés and restaurants where you may also be required to serve food. In South Australia, there is a high demand for experienced bar attendants, but opportunities for people with no previous bar experience remains limited. While there is a high turnover rate in this occupation, many positions are not advertised and vacancies are filled through word of mouth.

    Bar attendants who have undertaken training or are experienced are highly regarded by employers. In larger establishments, bar attendants with experience and additional training may progress to supervisory or management positions. With experience and some further training, a bar attendant can become a bar manager.

  • Bar attendants prepare, mix and serve drinks to customers in hotels, bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs. Part of their duties include serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, drawing beer from the tap or pour from bottles and mixing ingredients to make cocktails and slice fruit to garnish drinks. They may also prepare and serve a variety of coffees, refill drink and cigarette dispensers and collect glasses from tables and place them in glass washing machines. Some bar attendants also have to wipe down tables and empty ashtrays, collect payment, operate cash registers and give change, arrange bottles and glasses on shelves and clean bar service area and polish glasses. Depending on the venue, they may also operate TAB and Keno or gaming machine terminals. Bar attendants also assist in the cellar with stock control. They need to observe workplace hygiene, occupational health and safety, and security procedures.

    Bar attendants work in venues that are often busy and noisy. They may have to deal with difficult customers. They usually work shifts, including weekends and public holidays. Uniforms may be supplied by employers. Bar attendants must be at least 18 years of age, although some training providers give exemptions for the purpose of training.

  • Bar attendants must have good interpersonal skills. They also need to have a good memory and be efficient and speedy with each customer order. They must enjoy working with people. Basic mathematical skills are required to calculate drink prices and you will have to be able to operate a cash register to process the transactions. Bar attendants must also be able to stand for long periods.

  • 'Our main role is to prepare, mix and serve drinks. Aside from this, an important part of bartending is having a friendly chat with clients', says a local bar attendant.

    Ensuring fridges are stocked with drinks is another of their duties. If you start running low during rush hour, you may not have time to slip out the back to re-stock. And there's nothing worse than a warm drink! Bar attendants also have to prepare garnishes, such as sliced lemon and strawberries, used to decorate drinks. In addition to bar skills, the ability to communicate is very important for someone in this position. 'You will meet people from all walks of life. Clients may be on their first date or meeting for business. You have to pitch your conversation accordingly', says another local bartender, who has worked in the industry for many years.

    'You also get to be creative and imaginative. When making cocktails, you can mix together the most amazing concoctions as long as the flavours blend well'. Working behind the bar is not all fun and games. A lot of hard work is involved in preparing the bar and cleaning up. Most of the day is spent on your feet and when it's busy you still have to work quickly and efficiently, even if you're tired. The work environment tends to get noisy and smoky and if it's very busy, hot and stuffy.

    Confidence is a useful attribute behind the bar, particularly when dealing with people who have had too much to drink. By law, bar attendants must not serve patrons who are intoxicated and occasionally, customers can be rude when refused service.

    Australian Hotels Association (National Office)
    Phone: (02) 6273 4007

    Consumer and Business Services (SA)
    Phone: 13 18 82