How Much Education Does a Bartending Career Require?

It seems to me that ever since my eldest child stepped foot into school, I have been waging a small war against the American public school system. The day the last kid graduated from that institution, I breathed a sigh of relief. The war was over for me.

The American Dream hinges a lot on education, and while I agree that education is important, I disagree with the adage that you can’t be successful without it. In the end, success is in eye of the beholder. Read here to get an idea of how successful, or unsuccessful, this family is.

All three of my kids are extremely intelligent, but when it came to standardized testing, Rebekkah just shined. As is the habit of public schools, she was given a PACT test as a sophomore in high school, which is a pre-test that gives the school some idea of where she is in her education, and what areas she would need to work on. The results excited her teachers. She scored so high, that had it been the real ACT test, she would qualify for a full scholarship at one of the excellent colleges in Oklahoma. Her father and I almost swooned with pride.

Yeah, buddy. I made that! Scheduled around those tests, was Career Day, where the parents and students come to the school and discuss how a child should map out the remaining years of their education to best set themselves up to achieve their career goals. I have been called to the school so many times for the crappiest reasons, that for once, I was kind of psyched about going. I mean, I obviously had given birth to the smartest kid in the entire Sophomore class, and I wanted to be admired…That’s the long and short of it.

So, looking fresh and cocky, I headed to the school, Rebekkah in tow, and meet with her counselor. The counselor was a mousey woman who obviously had no sense of humor. And when you are dealing with Rebekkah, a sense of humor is a must. When I sat down in front of her, she began to launch into a lecture about how children that don’t take their education seriously in high school end up failing in life. I listened for about 5 minutes, before interrupting her and making her get to the point. I hate lectures.

Counselor: Ms. Martin, it is obvious Rebekkah isn’t taking her education seriously.

Me: What makes you say this? She has excellent grades. She scored high on her PACT test..

Counselor: Well, let me show you. See here..Rebekkah states that she wants a career in bartending. What kind of career would that be? Anyone can do this…

Me: I’m sure she was just kidding…

Bekkie: No, I wasn’t.

Me: Oh, Rebekkah…

Counselor: As you can see from her test results, she can do anything in the world that she wants to do…It would be such a waste of an excellent mind for her to not set higher goals for herself. And as her mother, that is what you should be encouraging her to do…

Me: I know…Bekkie! Seriously, this is what you want to do for the rest of your life? Bar-tending? ‘Cause I’ve done this bar-tending thing before, and it blows…

Bekkie: I’m 16. This is what I think I want to do right now, but I don’t know yet. I haven’t had a chance to see what is out there, so I don’t know what I will end up really liking. Why do I have to choose now?

Counselor: Surely….

Me: I guess just because you can do anything in the world doesn’t mean you have to..

Counselor: Well, I guess that you’re right, but still…What a waste of her talents!

Me: We’re finished here. She’s got a point. I didn’t know jack when I was 16, and neither does she. She’s obviously smart…she’ll figure it out. Maybe she just wants to be a bartender..It’s her life. Let’s go, Bek.

I really dislike pigeon-holing children to follow the status quo. I’ve learned with my own children that there are way more important things than achieving the “success” that the world tends to admire. I didn’t have any luck trying to force them into my religion, so it was doubtful I was going to force them into a career as well. Bek is an adult now, and she’s worked a couple of jobs, testing the waters of each to see what she would like to have a career in. And that’s okay..What is life if not practicing living?

Set your own priorities and definitions of success, and let your children set theirs…It makes for an exciting, fun life!

— Bird

30 responses to “How Much Education Does a Bartending Career Require?”

  1. I went to university really, REALLY young, and kind of wasted years studying business before I realized I actually wanted to do art-history. Anyway, tell the counselor to go suck on a pickled egg.


      • People can make a lot of money from non-conventional careers too! I make more money as an antiques broker (that’s fancy speak for someone who buys and sells old stuff) than I do as a fine-arts consultant. And my partner makes more money as a real-estate developer than he did from studying English at Oxford… and Bill Gates who dropped out of school all together makes way more money than both of us times a gazillion.


        • Exactly! I completely agree with you. But let me ask you this…Does money really make you happy? I’ve been both well-off and very poor. While I like buying what I want to buy, my real happiness comes from the relationships in my life..not the money in my account. So, I don’t think Bekkie making a fortune will make her happy..And her happiness..her ability to enjoy her life, is much more important to me. I’m sure doing what you want with your antiques beats the 9-5 crap a corporate job hands you. What do you think?


  2. I’m sure this wasn’t easy, but it’s true. We can hope to be examples of faith for our kids, but in the end, they must make their own choices. I really like your blog and I’ve nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Please go to http:/ for more information. Thanks for the fresh perspective your blog brings and congratulaions!


    • Thank you, Faithrises!! What an honor! I appreciate your compliment and the fact that you keep coming back…lol! I enjoy your site to…It is one that I return to every day… Thanks again, and have a wonderful day!


  3. excellent!!! bravo!!! i agree. college is a money pumping thing that brings millions of dollars in. our fore fathers had no education, but went on to become successful writers, construction workers, inventing airplances, electricity. this is all bull to put money in someon’s pockets. now if you are looking to become a doctor, or something that you have to get a degree, this is ok, but for everyone to go to college because ……………is BS


  4. Howdy Bird. I think you and I share a similar view of success. I feel like if you are generally happy, then you haven’t done too bad for yourself. I don’t have anything against getting a good education and giving yourself more options in life. But it certainly isn’t necessary to achieve a reasonable degree of happiness. I dropped out of school after the 10 grade and wound up going into the Navy when I was 17. I got my GED while I was still in the Navy and was able to land a job and career that I loved when I got out. I didn’t get filthy rich by any stretch but I was able to marry and raise a family which continues to give me great joy. I worked in the same field for 33 years including the time I spent in the Navy and had to go out on disability a couple years ago. I miss my job very much. But I still have my family and I still feel like the richest guy around because of it. If success is measured by happiness, then I guess i’m living proof that you don’t necessarily need to be smart or educated to be sucessful. But then again, maybe I’m a classic example of the old axiom “ingnorance is bliss”. Take your pick.


    • Excellent story, lafgod! That is exactly what I’m saying…success, to me, is defined by how much you are enjoying your life! Thank you!


  5. I agree! Success should be defined by the individual.

    Did she ever try bartending? I’ve always thought that would be an interesting job…


    • No, not yet. She was a pharmacy tech for 7 years, and now she’s trying her hand at a restaurant career..hopefully she’ll be moving into management pretty soon. But, the important thing is that she is enjoying her life…


      • “the important thing is that she is enjoying her life…”

        I AGREE 100% – it’s so great to see another mom (besides my own) who feels that way. My mom has never pressured me to pursue a high-powered career or lots of money. She just wants me to feel happy with my career and my life. 🙂

        Thanks for being another mom like that!


  6. Bird, we’ve got a split decision here. Yes, we want our kids to be happy. We try and guide them to that. We also know more of the world and more of their place in it than they yet know. We try and guide them. They don’t know what they don’t know. We know only a little more, but even that is too much to ignore.


    • Yes, I agree. But there is a difference in laying out a plan for them and forcing them to follow it, as opposed to being a guiding voice. Maybe some kids can be forced…mine can not be. They listen to my advice, but they make their own decisions, knowing full well that at the end of the day, their consequences belong entirely to themselves as well.. Thanks for the comment!


  7. lol those councillors were a little ghetto. they were responsible for some good times, though. its funnier when they don’t see the humor 🙂


  8. I actually was a proffesional bartender until I found more interest in labour work.

    With an RSA (Reponsible service of Alcohol – needed to serve alcohol in Queensland, Australia), cert II in hospitality, 3 cocktail / bar / 5 star service courses, 2 etiquette courses (the manners show when necessary), time management course, 4 modules of psychology to deal with all types of drunks… And I didn’t pay for a things… 5 years I worked in hospitality 4 of which was in a nightclub. I got paid $500 a week + 1% earning of whatever I made on my own cash draw. Lowest I ever made was $15,000 – average was $50,000 – Record (and still stands under me) was $280,000.

    6 nights a week, 10 hour nights. and I loved it… Until I grew out of it, though my good friend and trainee is now more succesful than what I was.

    During this time I worked during the day doing contract labour work and eventually quit the night scene to get more hands on skills in the labour force and more machinery tickets. Eventually I broke into metalliferous mining for 4.5 years and have spent the last 8 months in coal mining paying 3x times more in tax than I earnt daily in nightclubs…

    I wasn’t the smartest kid in school, by I was far from dumb, I passed every subject because I needed to… Well I was tols I needed to, and I actually to this date use trigonometry (Sorry Mr Maynard)… But I was far from the fellow students in high school that went on to do uni degrees, got into “dad’s business” and so forth. Voted 3rd most likely to fail in life, come the reunion last year, I was voted most succesful. My acceptance speach non the less was a little distasteful…

    It’s not how well you succeed in school, but how you treat yourself and how hard you work. And trust me, I worked hard to get where I am now. Years of lack of sleep, punished liver & kidneys(alcohol was free for me too….), constant hard yakka, led me to sit on my ass on a comfy chair and operate some of the biggest machinery in the world, I just got ticketed to drive the $6.8 million dollar truck!

    It really is hard yakka, whether it be labour or pencil pushing that gets you through life… Succesfully…


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