If you’ve ever thought about becoming a bartender, there are many different ways to enter this potentially high paying and interesting field. The least expensive and hardest is find someone to train you for free because most places don’t have the time or a knowledgeable trainer.

Your second choice is buy a drink recipe book and start memorizing hundreds of recipes. Not a good idea because you may be memorizing hundreds of recipes that aren’t popular. The easiest way and most expensive is to go to a bartender 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 appears their misinformation comes from a few bartenders or bar owners and not graduates. Some bar owners won’t hire a graduate and that’s their choice. Usually, it’s because the establishment has extremely high volume and the graduate doesn’t have enough speed to handle the bar customers and servers. For every establishment like this, there are many others where a graduates skills are more than adequate to do the job.

You’ll seldom hear a negative comment about a bartending school from a bartender who has graduated from a state licensed accredited bartending school. The negative comments come from insecure non-graduates who are threatened because the graduates are more knowledgeable and better trained. Where else can you get trained for a good paying job in only 1 or 2 weeks. Especially when you and earn back your investment in a few days of bartending Not all bartending schools are equal. There are many that call themselves bartending schools but who are scams.

These are things one should consider choosing a school. Is the school state licensed? State licensed bartending schools have to meet curriculum requirements, be financially secure, have proper training facilities, and approved instructors. Can you watch a class in progress? This will allow you to talk to current students to find out they like the bartending school Does the school have a real bar and full working bar equipment and tools? How long is the training program? Beware of schools with short 1 or 2 day classes. 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 a real job placement department and can they show you a list of current job lead? How long has the school 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 cheap short bartending course may save you a few dollars but 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’re serious about working as a bartender, put in the time and effort to make sure you’re going to 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 path.

One of the oldest and most reputable bartending schools is the American Bartending School. In 42 years of training bartenders, they have a 99 percent satisfaction rating from graduates. There are many other good schools for bartending out there, but be sure to take the time to visit them before making a decision.