Location is key for any career path, especially when it comes to bartending. For the uninitiated, a bartender’s salary depends on two elements: wages and tips. The latter heavily depends on a slew of other factors such as the area and type of establishment, and with more opportunities and jobs available, the number of bartenders across the country is constantly increasing. In fact, in 2021 alone, a striking average of 111,300 bartending jobs were available in the U.S.
While a state’s population density and metro-area influence clearly play a role in determining the number of bartenders employed, it’s interesting to note that these factors are not necessarily the only determinants when it comes to wage. Take New York State, for example, home of NYC and several other metro areas buzzing with bars, restaurants, and nightlife. As such an iconic part of the craft cocktail and beverage industry, one might assume that bartenders here enjoy proportionally high salaries; but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2021 report, the Empire State ranks fourth in the list of top-paying states for bartenders — even though its employment total is nearly double that of the top five states.
A few other factors that determine bartender salaries include tipping culture and tourism. This factor alone can easily slide the salary scale for bartenders. Tourism throughout the country has also grown, with many states containing small destination hubs perfect for quick weekend getaways. In fact, in 2020, 32.1 million people visited Arizona and in 2021 the state, which boasts the highest bartender salary average, dedicated $101.1 million in federal funding to continue its Visit Arizona Initiative program. Yes, the life of a bartender can be a lucrative one when working in the right location.
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Read on to see the states where bartenders are making the most money.
Average Hourly Wage by State
|State||Average hourly wage|
|District of Columbia||$20.57|
Average Annual Wage by State
|State||Average annual wage|
|District of Columbia||$42,790|