Sociable, flexible and hard working? Have you considered looking to the pub and brewery industry for employment? You may be surprised by how many job opportunities it offers!
With an average of 21 pubs closing each week in the UK, pub culture as it once was is out of favour. However, our appetite for beer is actually on the increase. In recent years, the UK has seen a massive growth in breweries, especially those of the ‘micro’ variety. According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA),there are more than 1,700 operating breweries in the UK today – the biggest number since the 1930s.
Despite the numbers of pub closures, many establishments are surviving by adapting to the needs of their customers. Pubs may now offer high-quality food, music and themed nights in order to make themselves a destination venue worth travelling to.
With a sector that’s adapting to need and an increase in breweries, there comes increased job opportunities. If you enjoy serving the public, can work flexible hours or have a passion for beer, there are lots of positions to suit all skills. From bar staff to microbrewer, here are just some of the jobs available to you.
You need to be unflappable to work behind a bar, especially a busy one. As front of house staff, your job is to create the right impression and make customers feel welcome, as well as serve them the right drinks. Bar work isn’t a nine-to-five job, so it’s ideal if you’re not a morning person.
What skills do I need? Good people skills are key, as is flexibility, as bar work often entails evening and weekend shifts. A good memory for orders and reasonable numeracy skills are important. You need to be aged at least 18 to work in a pub unsupervised, although you can start an apprenticeship at 16. This allows you to work in the kitchen or serve alcohol but only with the supervision of the manager/licensee.
How can I progress? Bar work appeals to many people as a form of casual employment. However, there are career opportunities and, with experience, you can graduate to management level or even become a publican and run your own pub.
How much can I earn? Salaries start from around £12,000, rising to around £35,000 for a bar manager.
Working on your feet all day may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a job as waiting staff can be a very sociable type of employment, and it’s often flexible enough to fit around other commitments. It may involves working shifts, including evenings and weekends, making it a good source of casual employment.
What skills do I need? Although the job does not require specific qualifications, there are relevant apprenticeships available. You’ll need a good standard of maths and English, and previous customer service experience will stand you in good stead. Good people skills are essential, as is being able to stay calm under pressure when faced with a busy restaurant or an awkward customer.
How can I progress? With experience, you could progress to Head Waiter/Waitress or Restaurant Supervisor.
How much can I earn? Salaries start from £12,000, rising to £27,000 as a head waiter/waitress. Tips may help to boost your income, and you may be offered free restaurant meals or snacks during your breaks.
If you want to learn the tricks of the trade, a Brewery Worker is a good starting point, as your job will focus on the beer-making process from start to finish.
What skills do I need? Couch potatoes need not apply, as this job is a relatively physical one. You also need to be practical, numerate and have good concentration and communication skills. There are no set entry requirements but some employers may ask for GCSEs (A* to C), especially in maths and English. Prior experience in brewing or distilling would be an advantage.
How can I progress? With experience, you could become a supervisor. Further training could lead to a career as a technical or craft brewer.
How much can I earn? Salaries start from around £13,000, rising to £25,000 with experience.
A micro brewery is an independent brewery that produces a small amount of beer, focusing on flavour and technique rather than quantity.
What skills do I need? You need to learn the art of brewing. You can do this on a short course (try Brewlab or Brew School) or, if you have the time, you can even do a degree, such as the one run by the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Persistence and patience are key, as is a good head for business if you’re going to make a profit. You should also be aware that the job requires a lot of both heavy lifting and cleaning.
How can I progress? The independent brewery community is flourishing, so if people are drinking and enjoying your beer, the sky’s the limit! There’s a real sense of support among brewers so seek out others for advice and guidance.
How much can I earn? That depends on the success of your product. You need to take your start-up costs into account. The smallest brewing kit from PBC Brewery Installations (pbcbreweryinstallations.com) will set you back just over £11,000, and then you have pay for space, bottling equipment, marketing and more – not to mention finding outlets prepared to stock and sell it.
Running a pub isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you’re not afraid of hard work, have excellent people skills and a good head for business, it might just be your calling.
What skills do I need? You’ll need to be well organised and a good leader, with the ability to manage a team. Experience in bar work and customer service is vital. To become a tenant or leaseholder and run a pub for a brewery, you’ll need experience to demonstrate you can run a pub successfully. Some larger chains offer graduate management trainee schemes, which require a degree or HND. However, just about anyone who has enough money can buy and run a pub.
How can I progress? If you own your own pub, there are no limits to what you can achieve. You could even end up owning a chain.
How much can I earn? Publicans employed by a brewery earn £20,000 to £50,000, depending on the size and success of the pub. But you can earn far more as the owner of a successful pub. Some breweries offer bonus schemes, free accommodation and living expenses.