Can a Felon Become a Bartender? -
Finding Employment

Can a Felon Become a Bartender?

When it comes to finding a job after being released, felons find it challenging.  Jobs they once had and careers may be gone.  They will have to be creative and willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.  This is the opportunity for felons to begin a new profession.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can become a bartender.

  • What is a Bartender?
  • What Training Does a Bartender Need?
  • How Much Does a Bartender Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Bartender

What Is a Bartender?

A bartender mixes and serves alcoholic beverages along with other drinks to customers.  Bartenders typically work in a bar, lounge, restaurant, hotel, resort, or club.

They are responsible for taking orders, collecting money, making change, and making conversation with customers.

They must know how to mix and serve many different types of drinks according to a recipe.

Bartenders are responsible for maintaining a clean work environment.  Another duty is to check the identification of bar customers before serving them alcohol.

They manage the operation of the bar and maintain bar equipment and stock alcohol.

There are many soft skills bartenders must have to be successful:

  • Communications – A bartender must listen to the customer’s order, explain drink choices, and make recommendations. They must also make conversation with customers and make them feel welcome.
  • Customer service – A bartender must take care of the customer to ensure return business.
  • Decision making – A bartender must be able to make good decisions to deal with potentially intoxicated customers or those underage.
  • Interpersonal skills – A bartender must be friendly and tactful.
  • Physical stamina – A bartender must be on their feet throughout their shift and be able to lift heavy cases and bar supplies.

What Training Does a Bartender Need?

Most bartenders do not have formal training to be a bartender.  Those who become a bartender often begin by waiting on tables or being an assistant to another bartender.

States have a minimum age requirement in order to be able to serve alcohol.  Some states set the age at 18 while it can range up to 21.  Checking with the law in the states where felons reside is important.

There are only a few states requiring a certification as a bartender.  There are two states that don’t allow felons to become a bartender: Indiana and Washington.

There are bartending schools in most states offering formal training lasting as long as 40 hours.  Students learn to mix and pour drinks, how to use bar equipment, provide good customer service, and health and safety issues.

The requirements to register at these schools typically state that those with a felony conviction cannot enroll there until at least five years after they have completed all aspects of their sentence.

There are also some indicating that felons can enroll there for their own education but can’t obtain certification there.

It is important to contact a bartending school in the state in which they live for specific guidelines.

One benefit of completing bar tending school is to demonstrate to potential employers that they have been educated in the procedures and safety regulations of the bartending industry.

How Much Does a Bartender Earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there are about 492,000 bartenders in the U.S.  This number is expected to rise at an average rate of ten percent with 15,000 jobs being added by 2020.

Many bartenders only work as a bartender part time with many having other jobs also.  The hourly wages typically range from $10-13 per hour, but with tips a good bartender can easily earn $150-300 daily.

An Opportunity for Felons?

While there are no laws prohibiting a felon from becoming a bartender, they may be able to attend bartending school at least five years after they complete their sentence.

Their best chance would be to find a job waiting tables or in some other capacity in an establishment that serves alcohol and work into a bartending position.

It may be more challenging to find this type of job if they have been convicted of a drug or alcohol offense.

If a felon has an alcohol or drug problem, it might not be in their best interest to pursue a bartending job because of the temptations that are there.

In order to be successful in this pursuit, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background.

They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Remember there are many success stories, as the Guide to Being Employed, reveals, showing how having a goal, commitment, dedication, and perseverance can assist felons in achieving their dream.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Bartender

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream of becoming a bartender, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become a bartender.

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a bartender with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

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