A pub on every corner

If you have heard the saying ‘there’s a pub on every corner’ – well, it’s true. And this is great news if you would like a job working in an English pub. Pub culture is a huge part of the UK way of life and has been for hundreds of years. They can be found everywhere. In the major cities or in small country towns. They range from indie gastropubs to chic bar chains to village pubs to tiny establishments that barely seat 20 people. And some are in buildings that are hundreds of years old and most have interesting names. The Slug and Lettuce, The Pig and Thistle, The Kings Head and the Shoulder of Mutton to name my favourites.

If you already work in a pub (or if you don’t – yet) you will know that bar work involves serving drinks and interacting with customers. Mostly you will be pulling pint after half pint after pint. Having knowledge of mixed drinks, cocktails, using the tills, collecting glasses, wiping tables, making sure the bar is clean, cellar work, possibly preparing counter meals and cleaning ashtrays are all part of working in a bar. Though whether or not you do these things will depend on the establishment you find a job in.


Outside The Shoulder of Mutton

Do you need a qualification and/or experience to work in a pub?

As long as the establishment has the appropriate licensing you do not need a qualification to work in a pub. Most establishments prefer you have some experience however, it is not always necessary. Even if you haven’t pulled a beer before the guv’nor (the owner or manager of the pub) may take you on. Maybe on a trial basis at first to see how you cope with serving crowds but also to see how you interact with the regular locals. If you are required to do a trial I would only do that for a few hours at the most. You don’t want to be taken advantage of!

Live-in bar work or Live-out

You have the option here to either find a live-in position or one where you live-out. Live-in bar work is popular with travellers as this takes care of finding a job and a place to live in the one go. The hours can be long and often hard but it is a great way to meet people. You will receive a small wage, free or subsidised accommodation which might be your own room or you may share it with another employee and meals (usually only while you’re on duty).

Live-in employees can expect to receive a wage of about £250+ per week in London and about £20 less in the rest of the UK. Some pubs pay an hourly rate of around £10+ per hour. You may also get tips on top of your wage. If you decide on a live-out position expect to receive about £100+ per week more than the live-in wage.

Couples required for bar jobs

A good thing about bar work is that pubs, most often in the countryside, require couples to come and work for them. So if you are a couple, or even two friends travelling together this could be an option.


Some Tips

Beers are not served with much of a head in the UK so practise pouring them this way. Also, ice isn’t put into drinks automatically, so ask the punter if they would like ice. Use a clean glass for each drink unless the customer hands their old glass back to you which you may refill – check with the supervisor about this.

How do I find a bar job?

Bar work can be found by door knocking, through classifieds in the evening paper, social media sites and you could also register with an employment agency. Some organisations can arrange a job for you before you arrive. They usually charge a fee for the service. Check out: Live-in Jobs www.livein-jobs.co.uk, London Pub Co www.londonpub.com.au, London Pub Jobs www.londonpubjobs.co.uk

If in need of short-term (or long-term) accommodation while waiting for a job I recommend Hostel World and/or Hotels Combined. Click on their links following to search and book accommodation.


Save on your hotel - hotelscombined.com



  • About the Author

    Sharyn McCullum has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked at Sydney Airport. When in her 20’s, she bid her family farewell and left Australia on her own for a working holiday in the UK. She stayed for 4 years and her time there inspired her travel guide Live Work and Play in London and the UK and this blog. She currently calls Melbourne home.


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