Where do Bartenders Make the Most Money in the US? A Salary Guide

Where do bartenders make the most money? That is a very important question for every bartender looking to maximize their income. While the national average hourly wage is $16.14 (without tips), according to Indeed, a recruiting platform, some bartenders make up to $31.40 per hour on average while some make as low as $8.29. 

Even if we focus only on official data, the point still persists. For example, the average hourly wage for a bartender, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was $14.12 per hour in May, 2022. Yet, the top 10% earned more than $27.51 per hour while the bottom 10% earned less than $9.18.

Recruiting platform Indeed puts the average daily tips for bartenders at $150. But just as with the average salary, there are bartenders who make less than this and those who make more than it. In fact, according to Upmenu, an online ordering system for restaurants, “in busy establishments or high-end venues, especially during peak times or events, bartenders can make $500 or more in tips alone.” 

In essence, the money a bartender makes – both basic salary and tips – depend on a number of factors including location, years of experience, skills, type of establishment (hotels, bars, casinos, cruises, etc.), among others. 

In this article, we will focus on location as a factor that determines a bartender’s income. We will consider states where bartenders can expect to make the most money in the US both in terms of the salary and the tips. We’ll cover:   

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  • Where do bartenders make the most money? Top 10 States (By basic salary)
  • Where do bartenders make the most money? (By tips)
  • How bartenders can increase their pay

1. Where do bartenders make the most money? Top 10 States (By basic salary)

    where do bartenders make the most money

    First, we consider states that pay the highest salaries (excluding tips) to bartenders in the US. 

    US States with the Highest Average Salary for bartenders

    1. Hawaii

      According to data from Zippa, Hawaii pays the highest average annual bartender salary at $36,832. Also, the lowest 10% of bartenders will still earn $30,000 in Hawaii while the top 10% can earn as much as $43,000.

      Party Shakers, a mobile bartending and photo booth company in California, also lists Hawaii as the state where bartenders can expect to get paid the most. 

      2. New Jersey

      The Zippa data quoted above lists New Jersey as the place where bartenders earn the second highest salary – $33,311.

      Interestingly, however, though the lowest 10% of earners in New Jersey only earn $19,000 (far lower than the $30,000 earned by the same set of people in Hawaii), the top 10% earners earn $58,000, which is $15,000 higher than their counterparts in Hawaii. 

      3. Washington

      In Washington, the average bartender salary is $32,671 according to Zippa while the top 10% and the lowest 10% can earn $21,000 and $48,000, respectively.

      While Hawaii and New Jersey are missing in some other lists (such as the top 5 lists by US News and BLS), Washington is in all of them.  

      4. California

      How much does a bartender make in California?

      Zippa puts the average annual salary of a bartender in California at $32,228 while the top 10% and the bottom 10% earn $52,000 and $19,000, respectively.

      Los Angeles seems to be the best paying city in California, according to ZipRecruiter, a recruiting agency. So, how much do bartenders make in Los Angeles?

      The average salary is $33,330, which is higher than the average in the state as a whole. Also, while the lowest earner in Los Angeles can earn as low as $11,853, the highest earner can get as high as $76,503, which is higher than what the top 10% in the state as a whole earn. 

      5. New York

      While New York is 5th in Zippa’s list (created in 2024), it’s first in the BLS and US News lists (both created in 2022). Like Washington, you will find New York in most lists of the states where bartenders make the most money.

      So, how much does a bartender make in New York?

      From Zippa we learn that $31,844 is the average salary that bartenders earn in New York. While the lowest 10% earners only receive $18,000, the top 10% can earn up to $56,000, which is the second highest salary for top earners after New Jersey.

      According to ZipRecruiter, top bartenders in New York City (NYC) can even make up to $77,676.

      6. Massachusetts

      The average salary of bartenders in Massachusetts is $31,683. The bottom 10% earners receive $17,000 while the top 10% earners receive $56,000 which is the same as the one in New York. 

      7. Rhode Island

      In Rhode Island, the average salary is $31,082. The bottom 10% earners will receive as much as $17,000 while the top 10% earners receive $55,000, the third highest salary in the list.

      8. North Dakota

      In North Dakota, the average salary is $30,334. While the salary of the top 10% is $43,000, the bottom 10% can still expect to earn up to $21,000, which is the second highest in the list after Hawaii. 

      9. Arizona

      Arizona is another elite location for bartenders. Like Washington and New York, you will find it in almost every list of states where bartenders can earn the highest. It was ranked as second by both US News and the BLS.

      According to Zippa, bartenders can expect to earn an average of $28,184 in Arizona. The top 10% earn about $46,000 while the bottom 10% only earn $17,000.

      10. Wyoming

      The average salary in Wyoming is $26,902 with the top and bottom 10% earning $40,000 and $17,000, respectively.

      Though they are excluded from Zippa’s list, you should also consider Vermont and the District of Columbia, two states that made it to the 2022 top 5 lists of US News and BLS (and the top 10 list of Vine Pair, a media company focusing on wine, beer, and spirits). Moreover, Vermont also makes the cut in the Party Shakers list.

      In addition to these top states, we have also seen many people ask questions about some specific states and cities. Before going on to discuss the top tippers, let’s take some time to give specific answers:

      • How much does a bartender make in Florida? Zippa puts the average salary in Florida at $22,859 with the lowest 10% earning $12,000.
      • How much does a bartender make in Texas? In Texas, the average salary is $21,697 with the lowest 10% earning $12,000. 
      • How much do bartenders make in Las Vegas? $23,103 is the average salary for bartenders in Nevada, according to Zippa. However, according to ZipRecruiter, the average salary in Las Vegas is $30,493 with the top 1% earning up to $67,811.  
      • How much do bartenders make in Chicago? Zippa puts the average salary in Illinois at $21,923. But in Chicago, the average salary of bartenders is $31,037, according to ZipRecruiter, with the top 1% earning up to $73,141. 

      2. Where do bartenders make the most money? (By tips)

      There are many studies evaluating the tipping habits of Americans and ranking each state by the average tip percentage. 

      To date, the survey by USA Today and OnePoll has covered the most ground, with up to 5,000 respondents across the 50 states. 

      According to them, the average tipping percentage in America is 17.94%. The following states have the highest tipping percentages. 

      US States with the Highest Average Tipping Percentages

      where do bartenders make the most money

      Interestingly, California, Arizona, Rhode Island, and Washington make both lists. 

      And as we have mentioned, Arizona and Washington always find their way into most lists of where bartenders can make the most money. 

      What about the fact that some states do well in terms of average salary but are not as generous when it comes to tips? For example, Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wyoming are not in the top 10 list of tippers. Should you prioritize places like Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Georgia for their average tipping percentage even though their average salary is not as high as Hawaii and the others? 

      This is a tricky decision since what we are dealing with here are averages. While the average tipping percentage in Connecticut might be higher than that in North Dakota, it is still possible to find a bartender in the latter that earns more tips than the former. 

      Conversely, while the average salary in Hawaii is higher than that in Florida, it is still possible to find a bartender in Florida that is doing better than one in Hawaii. 

      Consequently, while the data presented so far should inform the choices of a bartender, they should not be the only factors to be considered. While location is important, other things like experience, skills, type of establishment, among others, are also crucial. 

      3. How bartenders can increase their pay

        Finally, let’s consider the top factors affecting the pay of bartenders and what you can do to increase your income.

        Location

        Given all we have discussed, it seems that, on average, some states are just better than others for bartenders. California, Arizona, Rhode Island, and Washington don’t just pay well in terms of average salary, they also have a better-than-average tipping culture.

        In essence, bartenders looking to earn more should consider changing locations and seeking bartending jobs in well paying states.

        However, bartenders should also consider the increase in cost of living as they move. If their real income remains the same, relocation may not be advisable unless the new location has greater potential for higher real income in the future. 

        Types of establishments

        Beam Box, an organization providing Wi-fi solutions to firms, have classified the types of establishments bartenders work for into three: 

        • Lower class: These are “dive bars, neighborhood pubs, and low-key or laid-back bars.” According to them, bartenders may not even get up to 20% in tips in these establishments. 
        • Middle class: These are “popular restaurants, hotels, sports bars, and casinos” where bartenders can make between $150 and $300 in tips. 
        • High class: These are “luxury casinos, hotels, upper-class bars, or fine-dining restaurants” where bartender pay is highest. Here, bartenders can get up to $1,400 in tips.

        Bartenders can make more profit by moving up the “establishment ladder.”

        Skills and experience 

        Moving up the “establishment ladder” depends on your skillset. Even within high-class restaurants, the skillful and good bartender will tend to get a higher salary or more tips than the less-skilled counterpart. 

        Also, the more experienced you are in the career path, the better pay you can command. 

        Appearance and people skills

        “If you have people skills, patrons are going to like you more,” according to Beam Box. “They may even give you more money than a standard tip and can become regulars to come to talk to you. ”

        In essence, the way you present yourself and converse with customers can go a long way in helping you improve your pay. By dressing well and engaging with customers in a fun and respectful way, you may be able to get more generous tips, irrespective of your location. 

        At Broken Bartender, we have everything you need to express your unique bartender style. 

        Visit our store today and you’ll be on the road to becoming a more stand-out bartender.

        Takeaways

        • The average salary of a bartender varies from state to state. 
        • Some states in the US have a better tipping culture than others and this is important to bartenders. 
        • Part time or full time bartenders looking to improve their income should consider locations with the best average salary and tipping culture. 
        • In addition to location, type of establishment, skills and experience, and appearance and people skills will also determine if a bartender can make good money.
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