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Barback Salary in 2024: Comprehensive Guide

How Much Does a Barback Make in the United States?

The average base salary for a Barback in the United States is base plus tips per month or $31,688 base plus tips per year, according to the most recent data averaged from Talent.com, Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter.

Average Barback Base Salary:

What can I earn as a Barback?Your salary is 0 the US national average
$15.23
$15.23
15.23

The average wage for a Barback is base plus tips per hour.

A Barback is considered a tipped position, but they don’t usually receive tips directly from guests. Instead, they would often get a share through a tip-out (or tip-sharing) arrangement.

In the case of Barbacks, a tip-out arrangement is when a Bartender shares a portion of their tips with the Barback who assisted them. However, this is generally a voluntary set-up in most workplaces and would depend on the Bartender’s discretion.

A tip pool is another way that Barbacks can earn tips. Through this arrangement, tips are combined and then distributed among a group of employees. In the context of the hospitality industry, tips are distributed among front-of-house staff, which includes Barbacks.

Annual Mean Wage of Barbacks by State

[Calculated using Salary.com, Talent.com, Zippia, Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter data]

This map is interactive. Hover your mouse over different parts of the map to see detailed data. 

The annual earnings for Barbacks significantly vary across different states due to multiple factors.

For example, in states like California and Massachusetts that have higher costs of living, Barbacks are more likely to receive higher pay to keep up with those costs.

In contrast, Barbacks might earn relatively modest salaries in states with lower costs of living, such as Nebraska and West Virginia.

Additionally, Barbacks may earn competitive wages in states that boast lucrative tourism industries and entertainment districts, especially during peak seasons. Two good examples of such states are Hawaii and New York.

Are Barback salaries keeping up with living costs in your area?

Factors That Affect Average Barback Salary

Aside from geographic location and living costs, several other factors influence the average Barback salary:

Level of Experience and Training

Barbacks with previous experience working in a bar or similar setting may earn more than complete beginners. This is because such Barbacks already received some on-the-job training, which most establishments would find valuable.

Shifts and Schedules

Since Barbacks typically receive hourly wages, the amount of shifts — as well as the length of each shift — they work directly influence their annual salaries.

A Barback’s shift usually lasts between four to eight hours, though this also depends on the establishment’s staff scheduling.

In some cases, the amount of shifts a Barback can work in a week depends on how many staff members are needed on particular days. For example, a Bar Manager often requires more Barbacks to work on Friday and Saturday nights due to a higher influx of patrons.

Tips

Barbacks often get tips either through a tip-sharing or a tip-pooling arrangement, which may increase their overall earnings. However, they don’t directly receive tips as frequently as Bartenders and Waiters/Waitress, which are the more customer-facing roles.

Location of Establishment

Barbacks who work in areas with increased foot traffic (whether it’s due to tourists, residents or both) may receive higher pay. Establishments in such areas are more likely to offer better wages for Barbacks that can assist in servicing a larger number of customers.

Type of Establishment

Upscale nightclubs and bars, as well as high-volume restaurants, tend to pay competitive wages, given the need for more Barbacks to help cater to their clientele.

Scope of Responsibilities

Barbacks with a more extensive scope of responsibilities — especially those beyond the typical barbacking tasks — could earn higher wages. Employers tend to place more value on Barbacks who can and are willing to take on additional work, particularly in establishments with higher standards or more complex standard operating procedures.

Negotiation Skills

Although a Barback is an entry-level role, candidates applying for Barback positions might be able to secure higher pay through effective negotiation either during the hiring process or during performance reviews. There, they’ll need to articulate how their skills and experience can contribute to the establishment’s overall success.

factors affecting barback salary

Average Barback Salary in Major US Cities

Among the four major U.S. cities shown below, NYC is the top-paying city for Barbacks, followed by Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago.

[Calculated using ZipRecruiter, Salary.com, Glassdoor and Talent.com data]

High-Paying Cities for Barbacks

CityAvg SalaryAvg Hourly Wage
Chicago, IL27,27613.11
Los Angeles, CA29,95414.40
Miami, FL28,50613.70
NYC, NY31,97615.37

Average Barback Salary by State

Barbacks in California, Massachusetts and Hawaii have the highest average salaries. Meanwhile, those in Arkansas, West Virginia and Nebraska generally earn the lowest.

Explore the table below for the average Barback salary by state.

StateAvg. Salary
Alabama$22,424
Alaska$26,707
Arizona$24,768
Arkansas$21,969
California$33,198
Colorado$28,159
Connecticut$31,371
Delaware$25,184
Florida$26,497
Georgia$26,004
Hawaii$32,097
Idaho$24,477
Illinois$27,269
Indiana$29,264
Iowa$28,836
Kansas$23,641
Kentucky$25,195
Louisiana$26,694
Maine$27,980
Maryland$28,579
Massachusetts$32,996
Michigan$25,796
Minnesota$27,004
Mississippi$22,633
Missouri$24,742
Montana$23,774
Nebraska$21,571
Nevada$24,388
New Hampshire$25,450
New Jersey$26,881
New Mexico$22,551
New York$30,421
North Carolina$23,915
North Dakota$27,488
Ohio$23,456
Oklahoma$24,356
Oregon$26,885
Pennsylvania$24,443
Rhode Island$28,181
South Carolina$25,204
South Dakota$23,086
Tennessee$24,187
Texas$25,635
Utah$23,753
Vermont$26,821
Virginia$24,702
Washington$29,328
West Virginia$21,902
Wisconsin$24,485
Wyoming$22,656
District of Columbia$30,595

Non-Monetary Benefits and Perks for Barbacks

In addition to salary and tips, both employers and candidates factor non-monetary benefits and perks into the overall compensation package. These benefits and perks are designed to enhance job satisfaction, promote work-life balance and support professional growth.

According to Statista, these are the perks and benefits that employees would change jobs for:

[Source: Statista]
This chart is interactive. Hover your mouse over different parts of the chart to see detailed data. 

In most establishments, the set of benefits and perks for Barbacks typically depends on whether they’re full-time employees or not (e.g., part-time, seasonal or temporary). That said, when applying for Barback jobs, it’s best to clarify with the hiring manager about which benefits and perks apply to the role.

Below are the most common perks and benefits for Barbacks in the U.S.

  • Healthcare benefits: Alternatively called “health insurance benefits,” these include medical, dental and vision insurance.
  • Personal risk insurance: Similar to healthcare benefits, this is designed to protect employees’ health while also providing financial protection. A personal risk insurance package often includes coverage for disabilities, critical illnesses and accidents.
  • Flexible scheduling: Some bars and restaurants offer flexible scheduling options to Barbacks, so they can adjust their work hours around personal commitments and preferences.
  • Paid time off: This includes vacation leaves and sick days, both of which allow Barbacks to take breaks and recharge as needed.
  • Employee discounts: Barbacks may receive discounts on meals, beverages or other services offered by the establishment or company that they work for.
  • 401(k) plan: A 401(k) allows Barbacks to save and invest a portion of their earnings towards long-term savings for retirement. 401(k) contributions are typically deducted directly from their paycheck before taxes are withheld, which could also help reduce current taxable income.
  • Employee assistance program (EAP): This workplace-based program assists employees with personal issues that may negatively affect their performance and overall well-being. EAPs usually include confidential counseling, crisis intervention, work-life balance support and referrals to third-party support services or community resources.
  • Commuter benefits: Barbacks working in major metropolitan areas are highly likely to receive this. Otherwise called transit benefits, commuter benefits are employer-sponsored programs that help with the cost of an employee’s commute to and from work via public transportation or certain other modes of transportation.
  • Training and development opportunities: In the case of Barbacks, these typically include opportunities to participate in skills development workshops as well as alcohol server training sessions.
  • Uniform allowance or reimbursement: Most establishments that require Barbacks to wear a uniform would provide allowance or reimbursement to cover the expenses for buying and maintaining uniforms.

What is the best tactic to get a pay raise?

Top 5 Skills Needed for Barbacks

To excel in their role, Barbacks must develop and hone a diverse skill set tailored to meet the demands of their typically fast-paced work environment.

Below are the top five skills that a Barback needs to thrive in their career and contribute to the success of the establishment.

1. Organizational Skills

These skills are especially important when it comes to managing inventory for various bar supplies and equipment, which is one of the primary responsibilities of a Barback. They must know how to properly track, categorize, label and store inventory, ensuring efficient access to and retrieval of items.

2. Attention to Detail

Barbacks must pay close attention to the overall presentation of the bar area to create a good impression among patrons. This includes ensuring that glassware, cutlery and surfaces are clean and polished.

They should also be able to easily spot issues and discrepancies that could affect operations — including low levels of liquor and supplies, misplaced items and potential hazards like slippery floors.

Lastly, Barbacks must follow instructions and recipes precisely, especially when assisting the Bartender in preparing various drinks.

3. Interpersonal Skills

Successful Barbacks communicate and collaborate effectively with Bartenders and other coworkers. This is especially important when it comes to relaying information about inventory levels, customer requests and other issues that require immediate attention.

They must also be good at actively listening to feedback and instructions — especially those from Bartenders — and ensuring that expectations are properly aligned to avoid conflict or miscommunication.

4. Adaptability

Nearly every Barback works in a hectic, high-stress environment. Nonetheless, they must be able to handle last-minute changes or unforeseen problems while remaining calm and professional.

Additionally, an excellent Barback can adjust their pace and workflow according to different Bartenders’ work styles as well as to customer traffic during their shift. They should be ready to take on last-minute tasks that may not be part of their usual responsibilities.

5. Multitasking and Time Management

Barbacks are an integral part of ensuring that operations run smoothly and minimizing downtime. That said, they must know how to juggle multiple (and often simultaneous) tasks quickly and efficiently, especially during busy periods.

These skills also involve properly prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance, without forgetting other responsibilities.

 

For more information on a Barback’s role, including primary responsibilities and types of workplace, visit our Barback Career Guide.

Education & Training Requirements for Barbacks

Although specific education and training requirements vary per establishment, Barbacks can often benefit from a combination of basic education and practical experience in the hospitality industry. Key education requirements for this role include:

  • High school diploma: Many Barback positions require candidates to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED). It shows that the candidate has basic literacy as well as mathematical and communication skills — all of which are necessary for the role.
  • Alcohol server training: Some states require employees like Barbacks to have a license or certification in alcohol service training. Meanwhile, in states where this isn’t obligatory, some establishments might still require these from employees to mitigate liability risks.
  • On-the-job training and experience: Many employers value prior, hands-on experience in the bar industry, even if it’s for an entry-level position like Barback. However, some employers are more flexible and only consider this a “nice to have.”

How Much Do Similar Careers to a Barback Get Paid?

Barbacks in the U.S. earn more than Bussers, but less than Bartenders and Baristas.

However, a common advancement path for Barbacks is to move up to the role of Bartender, where they can leverage their experience and skills to earn higher salaries and finally be able to prepare all sorts of drinks.

Job TitleAverage Salary
Busser
Bartender
Barista

Barback Career Progression

For Barbacks, the most common next step would be transitioning to the role of Bartender. From there, they can advance to a range of higher-level roles within the hospitality industry.

Take a look at some of the career paths you can take as a Barback:

Barback

Bartender

Avg Salary $ 34,490

Assistant Bar Manager

Avg Salary $ 40,682

Bar Manager

Avg Salary $ 52,310

General Manager

Avg Salary $ 61,259

Bartender

Avg Salary $ 34,490

Bar Manager

Avg Salary $ 52,310

Food and Beverage Manager

Avg Salary $ 69,224

Event Manager

Avg Salary $ 78,729

Labor Laws and Taxes for Barbacks

As a Barback, you need to be aware of the minimum wage, overtime pay, leave and tipping policies in your state.

Check out the guides below or view more labor laws:

To easily calculate federal, state and local taxes in your state, use our free Paycheck Calculator.

Barback Salary FAQ

Barbacks typically earn hourly wages. That said, the average Barback wage in the United States is $15.23 base plus tips per hour, according to the most recent data averaged from Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter and Talent.com. This translates to an average salary of $31,688 base plus tips a year.

Barbacks in California, Massachusetts and Hawaii are more likely to make good money, as these are the top three highest-paying states for such a role.

The top five skills a Barback needs to excel in their role and be able to negotiate a higher salary are:

  • Organizational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Multitasking and time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability

Most of the time, yes. Barbacks with previous industry experience may earn — or be able to negotiate — a higher salary than complete beginners.

In most establishments, Barbacks earn a set, hourly wage and a percentage of tips that are shared with them by Bartenders or other front-of-house staff members. It is rare for a Barback to receive tips directly from patrons, given that their role doesn’t involve frequent customer interaction.

It depends on the establishment where they work. Some bars or restaurants provide Barbacks with free meals and drinks during their breaks. In other cases, Barbacks may receive discounts on meals and drinks from the establishment, whether it’s during breaks or even outside work hours.

However, not all establishments offer such perks. If this is something you consider important, then you should ask your prospective employer about their policies on perks and benefits when applying for Barback jobs.

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