Am I Too Old To Bartend? And If So, What’s Next?

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: March 25, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Bartending is a great job if you like a high-energy environment, being social, and of course, mixing drinks. It’s no secret that bartending is tough on your body because you spend long shifts on your feet, so you might be wondering what bartenders do when they get old? 

If bartending is something you enjoy, it can be hard to imagine doing anything different. The good news is that there are some easy career pivots that capitalize on the skills that make you a great bartender while still preserving your health long-term. Keep reading to learn more about how to do this for yourself. 

What age is too old for bartending? 

The common narrative around bartending is that it’s a job for young people who are just starting out either during college or in the years following college, but it can be so much more.  

You can become a bartender as soon as you are legally old enough to bartend in the state where you work and bartend until the day you retire if you choose. With that said, there may be an age when bartending may become less desirable for you. 

Many career bartenders stay with the profession well into their 40’s, 50’s, and even beyond. If you remain in good health and work for a good bar or restaurant that pays well and supports you, you may want to stick with it until retirement.

Can I retire as a bartender?

You can absolutely retire as a bartender, and many people do! Bartending is a very viable career option as it can bring you a lot of job satisfaction and a great living. If you take care of your health and are smart about your finances, you can continue to bartend until the day you are ready for retirement. 

It’s important to prioritize your health if you want to bartend until retirement. 

It is a very physically demanding job that will compound as you get older, so taking proactive steps is key to a long career. Make sure you exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and address any health concerns with joint or muscle pain to keep your body working optimally. 

The other piece of the puzzle to retiring as a bartender is financial. 

Because you are paid differently than salaried professionals, you may need to take matters into your own hands to make sure you save enough for retirement. Seek out a financial planner with experience to help you set yourself up for a prosperous retirement. 

Is bartending bad for your health? 

While bartending isn’t necessarily bad for your health, it can be taxing on your mind and body. 

There are some important things to look out for if you want to take care of yourself as a bartender. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself as a bartender:

Take care of your body 

It’s no secret that bartending is a physically taxing job. It can wreak havoc on your health if you aren’t careful about prioritizing it. Keeping yourself fit and healthy is a great start to making sure you have a good foundation to spend long shifts on your feet carrying heavy drink trays and lugging kegs behind the bar. 

Consider seeing an orthopedist or chiropractor regularly to keep your body working optimally and help you address minor injuries before they become a chronic issue. Regular massages can also help to relieve tightness in your muscles and keep you feeling ready to work. 

Choose the right bar 

There is a major mental component to bartending as well. If you encounter any kind of toxic work environment like a bar with management that is unsupportive or abusive, unsafe work practices, or anything else that just feels wrong, get out. 

There are great bars that have a supportive staff and prioritize the health and safety of employees, so keep looking until you find one. You have to put yourself and your mental health first in your career as a bartender. 

Prioritize rest

Because bartending is so demanding on your body, you should prioritize rest and self-care as much as you can when you aren’t working. 

This is especially true if you work late nights or double shifts often. It can be hard to relax and focus on yourself when you’ve been running around serving others for hours on end. 

What jobs can I do with bartending experience? 

If you think that you might be getting too old to bartend, it’s normal to worry about what you can do next.

The good news is that there are plenty of natural career transitions from the bartending industry. You’d be surprised at the valuable career and life skills you learned through bartending that are transferable to almost any industry. 

Here are just a few of the jobs that you could easily pivot to after you are ready to hang up the drink shaker:

Bar manager

If you love the food and beverage industry but you are ready to try out a different aspect of it, consider managing a bar instead of bartending. This is a common transition for bartenders looking for a change.

You will be responsible for managing bar staff, ordering food and supplies, tracking revenue, scheduling, building maintenance, and more. It is a highly stressful job because you are wearing many hats but many bartenders find this a gratifying career pivot, especially in the later years. 

Bar owner

Owning a bar isn’t an option for everyone but if you have the financial means and an entrepreneurial spirit, it might be for you. You know how bars work inside and out from having worked as a bartender, so it gives you a leg up on the operational aspect of bar ownership. 

Being a bar owner is very satisfying and can be a great way to stay in the food and beverage industry without being a part of the day-to-day by hiring a great team to run your bar with you. 

Beverage company sales 

As a bartender, you encounter dozens of beverage company sales representatives every week. If you like sales and talking to people, you could become one of them! Chances are you have connections in the industry and know the companies that you might like to work for based on your interactions as a bartender. 

Beverage company sales is a great pivot for bartenders because you can use it as a springboard into a sales career. Sales is a very reliable and lucrative career path that will serve you well until retirement if you work hard and enjoy it. 

Customer service 

Bartending is customer service, so the skills you learned as a bartender are very easy to translate to a more corporate customer service role. If you are looking to work a standard 9-to-5 job and love working with people, you can call on the skills you learned behind the bar to help you in the office. 

Customer service is easy to get into because there are many jobs ranging in responsibility from entry-level to senior-level. These types of roles are structured for you to come in and work your way up the ladder, which is a great way to progress your career after bartending. 

Conclusion

If you’ve been asking yourself lately what bartenders do when they get old, it’s worth exploring some other career options that may fulfil you and be less stressful on your mind and body. 

While there is no rule that you can’t bartend past a certain age, many bartenders find that they want or need to make a change at some point. There are plenty of great jobs you can do with the skills you’ve picked up while bartending that will serve you well until retirement if you so choose. 

mixed drink on bar

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