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Working in a bar in Australia

Working in a bar in Australia

Working in a bar in Australia offers a unique blend of cultural immersion, fast-paced environment, and the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. The experience is as diverse as the country itself, ranging from bustling city pubs in Sydney and Melbourne to laid-back beach bars in Queensland and historic taverns in Tasmania. This article delves into the intricacies of working in a bar in Australia, covering legal requirements, the work environment, skills needed, and the cultural aspects of the job.

How to get a bar job in Australia?

The RSA certificate: a compulsory step

If you’re planning to mix it up in the Aussie bar scene, you need to get your RSA certificate (Responsible Service of Alcohol). This is mandatory for anyone serving alcohol in Australia.

Here’s the lowdown: snagging an RSA is as easy as breezing through a one-day course. You can even do it online if you’re all about that digital life. The cost varies by state, count between $20 and $200.

The RSA certification process varies by state, so it’s crucial to obtain the certificate from the correct jurisdiction. For instance, an RSA certificate obtained in New South Wales might not be valid in Queensland. Additionally, those on working holiday visas or student visas need to ensure they comply with their visa working conditions.

Get your RSA in Australia and receive Discounts!

Pay less for your RSA course (Responsible Service of Alcohol). With this certificate, you are allowed to work in all places where alcohol is served or sold.

Where to look for a job?

There are several methods when you are looking for a job. However, if you are looking to work in a bar, restaurant or even a shop, the best way to find a job is the Door-to-Door Method.

Make sure to adapt your resume to the Australian standards. Tailor your resume to highlight any relevant experience in hospitality or customer service. Even if you don’t have bar experience, emphasize skills that are transferable, such as teamwork, communication, and fast learning.

Print out copies of your resume and visit bars, pubs, and restaurants. Once in the bar or cafe, ask to speak to the manager and try to engage in a conversation. Ask whether or not they are hiring, what positions they want to fill and how many hours you would work per week. The simple act of asking these questions demonstrates your dedication and motivation. Make sure to highlight everything that could be considered valuable in the world of hospitality, referring to key competences, such as customer service, ability to handle stress, teamwork etc.

Look for Job Openings and check online job portals like Seek, Indeed, Gumtree. Also, consider visiting the websites of bars and pubs directly for job listings. Utilize social media platforms and local community boards. Facebook groups for backpackers or expats in Australia can be particularly useful.

Finding a job can take time, especially in popular locations. Don’t get discouraged by rejections. Keep applying and be open to different opportunities.

Little tip here: you should always say you can do whatever it is because once you have the job they are rarely bothered to look for someone else to hire. So if the manager asks you if you can make cocktails and you only made 2 or 3 previously, said yes. Plus most of the trials for hospitality are paid trials anyway so you’ll usually get some payment out of it.

Skills and Qualities needed

Working in a bar in Australia requires more than just the ability to pour a good drink. Communication skills are paramount, as bar staff are often the face of the establishment, engaging with a diverse clientele. Quick thinking and problem-solving are also essential, especially when dealing with intoxicated patrons or resolving conflicts. Physical stamina cannot be underestimated, as shifts can be long and demanding, often requiring staff to be on their feet for extended periods.

How is it to work in a bar in Australia?

If you have worked in a bar previously, you will see that the basics come back pretty quick like how to pour a pint, juggle eight orders and glasses at once. But other parts can be a bit more complicated. If the bar has a glasswasher slightly different to one you previously used or changing a keg. In this case, just quickly check with your workmate how to deal with these. Try to avoid asking your manager on the first day!

The start might be shaky, you may be asked to make a cocktail you have never heard of before! For example, an Espresso Martini! For anyone living in Australia it’s a normal cocktail but we don’t have this drink in Europe. So you might want to make a good attempt at creating it but you might also ask another staff member to assist you on this one at first! If you make some mistakes, don’t worry too much they ll probably be overlooked if you have a good attitude.

Finally enjoy! Working in a bar in Australia is an electrifying experience, especially for those with a zest for lively environments and meeting new people. The hours can be quite varied, often including late nights and weekends, catering to the bustling nightlife. It’s a world where every shift brings something different – from chill after-work vibes to high-energy weekend parties. The atmosphere is typically vibrant and social, making it a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture and make friends from all over the world. As for the salary, it’s generally competitive, with the added perk of tips from patrons, which can be quite generous, especially in popular spots. Plus, working in a bar offers a unique opportunity to develop valuable skills like customer service and multitasking, all while enjoying the dynamic Aussie bar scene.

Cultural aspects

Australia’s bar culture is a reflection of its broader social culture: informal, friendly, and inclusive. The country’s love for sports, particularly rugby and Australian Rules Football, means that bars can get incredibly busy during game days, with staff often joining in the excitement. Understanding and appreciating this aspect of Australian culture can enhance the work experience, making it more enjoyable and rewarding.

Australian bars also serve as a melting pot of cultures, thanks to the country’s diverse population and popularity among tourists. This diversity is not only reflected in the clientele but also in the range of beverages offered, from local craft beers and Australian wines to international spirits and cocktails. Working in such an environment offers a fantastic opportunity for cultural exchange and learning.

Pros and Cons of working in a bar in Australia

A good thing about the job especially when you’ve just arrived is that it’s a great way to make friends in a new country. Apart from the bar staff, you meet a lot of other backpackers through serving them in the bar.

It is also a great way to make some money. The salary for working in a bar in Australia can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and the establishment’s size. On average, bar staff in Australia earn around AUD $23 to $25 per hour. Additional income may come from tips, especially in certain establishments.

The biggest drawback to bar work is of course that you always have to work on Friday and Saturday. So you will miss out on the nights out and the weekends. Shifts, especially on the weekend, can be quite long and hard to get through. Especially as the patrons get ‘looser’ (Aussie term for drunk). Light and friendly banter at the beginning of the night turns into boring, slurry one-sided conversations at the end of it. Australia also has a strict responsible service of alcohol policy which is a great idea but leads to many awkward ‘I’m sorry but I can’t serve you, please have some of this delicious and refreshing water instead’ conversations.

Read the following article to find out more about hospitality jobs: Hospitality Jobs in Australia


How can I get an RSA certificate?

You can obtain an RSA certificate by completing a short course offered by registered training providers. These courses are widely available online or in-person. See our dedicated article for more info: Get your RSA in Australia

Are there specific visa requirements for working in a bar in Australia?

If you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you may need a valid visa that permits work. Common visa options for working holidaymakers include the Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) or the Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462).

Are there opportunities for career advancement in the bar industry?

Definitely! There are opportunities for career advancement in the bar industry. With experience and additional training, you can progress to positions such as bar supervisor, manager, or even open your own bar.

What are the typical working hours in a bar?

Working hours can vary, but bars generally operate during evenings, weekends, and public holidays. Late-night shifts are common, especially in bars with extended trading hours.

Do I need previous experience to work in a bar?

Previous experience can be beneficial, but many bars are also open to hiring individuals with no prior experience. It’s important to demonstrate a positive attitude, willingness to learn, and good customer service skills.

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Australia Backpackers Guide
The ultimate guide to work and travel around Australia with a Working Holiday Visa! Get all the tips and advice from other backpackers. The first travel guide written by Backpackers for Backpackers in Australia!!!


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