From the average rates to statewide differences and the most lucrative cities for work, here’s everything there is to know about bartender pay in the US… 

What’s the average annual bartender salary in the US?

female-bartender-pouring-two-drinks-from-shaker

Let’s start by saying that bartender salaries in the US are higher than that of most countries because of one important factor: the country’s strong tipping culture.  The average annual wage for a bartender in the US is $26,350. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these figures accurately reflect the current climate of average bartender pay in the US. 

However, because of the country’s strong tipping etiquette, nailing down a concrete average for bartender salary in the US is a bit more complicated. 

Most bartenders in the US don’t “declare” everything they make for tax purposes, which makes it nearly impossible to know exactly how much a bartender actually earns. In other words, there are undoubtedly bartenders out there whose salaries are soaring above the recorded average. 

What’s the average hourly bartender salary in the US? 

The average hourly bartender salary in the US is $12.67, tips included.

Of course, this greatly depends on an individual’s level of experience, the kind of establishment they work in, and even which shifts they normally work. 

For example, a weekend shift in an upscale bar will most likely rake in more money than a Tuesday night shift in a shabby sports bar (unless, the Super Bowl is on). On the other hand, middle-class pubs and restaurants tend to have the most steady amount of visitors, so the average salary of a bartender in these locations is normally more even-keeled. 

Percentile 

10%

25%

50%

(Median)

75%

90%

Hourly Salary

$8.59

$9.89

$12.67

$16.41

$22.94

Annual Salary

$17,870

$20,560

$26,350

$34,120

$47,710

 

How much do bartenders earn in major cities in the US?

The average salary of a bartender in the US varies greatly depending on where they are based. And it's a big country– so don’t enter the bartending world here expecting to take home the same pay no matter the state or city in which you live. 

This chart breaks down the average hourly salary of bartenders in some of the US’s major metropolitan cities…

US City

Average hourly salary

New York, NY

$20.76

Seattle, WA

$20.47

Los Angeles, CA

$20.13

Washington, D.C.

$18.30

Chicago, IL 

$17.42

Boston, MA

$16.21

Miami, FL

$15.93

Las Vegas, NV

$15.82

Dallas, TX

$14.11

Atlanta, GA

$14.03


Where are the highest bartender salaries in the US?

Average bartender salary in USA 2022

The average bartender salary is highest in the Northeast in states like New York and Massachusetts, as well as in the West and Northwest in states like Washington and California. 

Generally speaking, bartenders tend to earn more in those states where the cost of living is higher on a national average.

Nowadays, many of the country's highest-paid bartenders hail from hotspots like San Francisco and New York City, which makes sense - as these two cities are in the top three most expensive places to live in the US. 

Tourism is another key factor that affects bartender salary – which means the busier the bar, the more money you’re likely to make! In 2022, California, New York and Florida are listed among the top 3 most visited places in the US, making bartender work an attractive career move in the Golden State, Big Apple, and Sunshine State. 

Can you make a living from bartending in the US?

bartender-pouring-cocktail

Yes, absolutely. After all, there are few places where tipping is as customary as it is in the US, so prospective bartenders have the opportunity to make a lucrative living behind the bar. 

Additionally, bartenders can always leverage their skills for more tips, with things like flair bartending and in-depth product knowledge giving bartenders an upper hand against the competition. The best bartenders possess a friendly demeanour even while under stress, strive for attentiveness and customer satisfaction in all they do, and of course, create delicious drinks!

The great thing about bartending in the US is that the sharpening of your abilities as a bartender garners real rewards! With determination and consistent practice, entry-level bartenders can move up in the ranks and receive an impressive profit through tips. Though an individual's average base salary per hour may not change, tips can be a great supplement. 

If bartending in the US of A sounds like something you’d like to sink your teeth into, you’re in the perfect place. Discover the ins and outs of our bartender courses today and get excited about your next big career move. 

Who knows? Maybe one day you'll be making the highest salary of all the bartenders in your respective city!