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The Bar Trade

Food & Drink


You could be pulling a pint in a quiet, snug country pub, or part of a team of ten in a manic bar on a Saturday night in the heart of Dublin city. You could be making a tourist’s day by serving the perfect pint with a shamrock, or wowing the crowd with your cocktail skills. The choice is yours.

Wherever you are if you remember the regulars and look after tourists, you’re going to give your bar a good name and get them coming back for more.

In this section you can find out about the day-to-day job of a bartender, the career path from bartender to manager to owner, and what sort of course to do to get there.

Find out more about working in a bar 

The Workplace:

Take your pick. There’s ‘super-pubs’ with four different bars, a DJ and a dance-floor, fancy cocktail bars or ‘trad’ bars where they play traditional Irish music. Some pubs specialise in lunch, others are nice for a coffee in the afternoon, some are great places to watch a match.

As well as stand-alone pubs, there are bars in hotels, venues, stadiums and at festivals like Oxegen or The Taste of Dublin. You mightn’t be able to get a ticket to a match or a gig, but if you can get a job on the door or behind the bar there, happy days!

The Career Path:

As a bartender, you’ll prepare drinks for customers in pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants and licensed event venues. You’ll be responsible for keeping the bar well stocked. If the bar serves food, you’ll take food orders and work with kitchen staff.

The next step in a good-sized bar is to become a bar supervisor, where you’ll be doing all of the above, plus overseeing other bartenders, helping new recruits learn the ropes, and organising rotas.

If you move on to be a bar manager, you’ll deal with the daily accounts, order stock and manage the training and development of other staff. You’ll usually be responsible for getting DJs or bands in and organising promotions.

The bar owner does the marketing and promotion, organises decoration and maintenance of premises and equipment, and deals with other long-term issues. Their most important function is to manage the finances of the business. Most bar owners have a good head for figures and have done some sort of financial training so you’ll need to be clued in on your facts and figures should you wish to own a bar.

Bar Supervisor
Bar Manager

How to Get Started:

Lots of people get part-time jobs as lounge boys or girls or as bartenders, but if you want to make a career in the bar trade, it’s a good idea to do a training course. The options are:

Higher Certificate in Bar Supervision 

Two year Full Time Course. To give students the operational experience to work and supervise a bar. Programme includes periods of work experience.

Courses at Institutes of Technology: Athlone Institute; Tralee Institute; Letterkenny IT; Galway / Mayo Institute

Subjects include:  Bar Operations, Bar Beverages, Food Service techniques, Wine knowledge, Bar and Restaurant Control

Restaurant Operations Management

This nine month programme has been developed to provide a relevant professional qualification for those who wish to embark on a career in Restaurant Operations Management. 

Courses at Institutes of Technology:  Athlone; Waterford; Letterkenny (Killybegs Campus); Tralee

Direct application to the college of your choice.

Degree in Bar Management (application via the CAO).


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