Should You Be an Uber Driver or Bartender?

The economy is slowing, house prices are rising, HECS/HELP is hitting sooner and kid you better forget about those penalty rates. To all those hammering away at a university degree or saving their spare cash for a home deposit here’s the cold hard truth:

Jobs are down, prices are up and automation/robots are making more and more future jobs irrelevant.

Like some scary toothless guy on the street corner I’m here to tell you the End is Nigh! What are your options though?

It’s not like getting a good job is enough anymore, there’s less of them and a basic degree isn’t going to cut it. Old folks want to tell you it’s your lack of work ethic or that your generation doesn’t understand money. They’re wrong, we’re saving at a better rate than they did and coping with proportionally higher living costs too.

Robert Kiyosaki puts it perfectly: “Debt and taxes are how the super rich get richer and what makes the poor and middle class poorer… we’re being lied to.”

Wait, you’re just in your 20’s. How are you supposed to leverage debt to become a property millionaire?

You’re not, relax. You’re going to make sure that you earn the most you can in the two best night jobs going right now before the robots kick you out.

We’re talking bartending rockstars and surge-price Uber drivers. One gets tips the tax office wish it knew about, the other makes taxi drivers rage all night long. Read to the end for the secret to maximising what you can make…


Being an Uber Driver

There’s loads of reasons why you might not want to be an Uber driver. Driverless cars hitting the streets in the next 5 years is probably way down on that list so let’s look at addressing the first few issues.

  1. Do you even qualify?
  2. Costs of car upkeep.
  3. Working late at night.
  4. Dealing with strangers.
  5. Can you even make that much money?


1. Do You Even Qualify?

Being an Uber driver requires three things; being over the age of 20 with a full driver’s license, having a hire car license and owning a car newer than 2007 in good condition. The majority of readers will qualify for everything except the hire car license.

Don’t worry that costs less to obtain then an RSA ($45) and takes less time. All you need to do is fill out an application form in your state and submit it with proof of identification. No tests, no crazy insurance applications, no expensive permits. Read more here.

Your vehicle gets inspected for free to ensure safety requirements are met and you get your smartphone sorted and you’re ready to go. Too easy.

2. Cost of Car Upkeep

OK yes you do have to keep your car clean and tidy. You also have to keep it in good repair. You also have to keep it registered and insured just like any other driver on the road. You also have to pay for all that fuel you use driving everyone else around.

The difference between an Uber driver and any other driver on the road is that you will be able to claim all of those upkeep costs back on your annual tax return. Finally, corporate car benefits without having to play the corner-office game.

3. Working Late at Night

Well this shouldn’t be a problem for anyone considering a night job… seriously why is this even an issue for you? Right now your bodies circadian rhythms are at their most optimal for late night work and/or revelry so working nights and sleeping in are actually better for you than a 9-5 day job. Especially if you’re studying.

4. Dealing With Strangers.

We could make some crack about this being a character building experience. In reality though you are going to deal with strangers your whole life. Learning how to deal with strangers who are paying you is 90% of customer-facing employment.

If this is more about the fact that strangers will be in your car and you’ve heard that dangerous things can happen to late night drivers then that’s reasonable. The simplest safety guarantee Uber can give you is that you are never dealing with cash. On top of that people can only order your services via an app that can track their location, credit card details and social media accounts if anything were to happen.

We can’t lie and tell you you’ll never ben in danger but statistically you are more likely to die from a drunken coward punch than you are as an Uber driver. So rest assured Sydney will lock patrons out of your cars after midnight if that ever happens to anyone.

5. Can You Even Make That Much Money?

Will Uber make you a millionaire? No. Will it pay you comparatively better money than almost any other weekend night job? Yes.

The typical mistake most drivers make is in assuming that by being on call the same number of hours as a full-time job they should somehow make the same amount of money a full-time worker in any other industry would. This is completely false.

However you can make more money per hour than most lawyers are able to charge before they turn 35. It’s all about picking what hours and regions you target to make the most of surge-pricing and high demand/low-supply areas.

It’s not surprising to know that many Uber drivers make $500 over the space of a weekend in Melbourne and Sydney. What is surprising is that a small percentage of those do so in less than 6 hours of actual work.

Start at 11 p.m. and finish at 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights in the right areas and you’ll have earned more money than someone driving for 30 hours every week. You’ll also basically be finishing off the night at the average student’s bed time anyway.

Don’t know about you but $500 without sacrificing students’ night or daytime study/regular job hours sounds pretty damn good.


OK Show Me More


Being a Bartender

In a world where beer pouring is automated:

Crappy cocktails are automated:

And robot wait staff are genuinely not far off:


Is there still a place for the bartender working nights? Yes of course there is! The difference is that the entire industry is going through a revolution right now.

In response to a range of factors, including the automation pointed out above, people are starting to perceive value in things like “craft” and “hand-made”. Being the bartender that just smashed out pints, pots and schooners of the same four beers all night long isn’t a long-term career choice. Over the next five years you’re going to be fine but we can’t guarantee anything after that.

However being the bartender that understands the flavours and experiences that every product in their bar can give is something that’s a long way off in terms of programming. Being able to couple that knowledge with great service, good banter and a willingness to experiment to find the perfect drink for what the customer wants right now is genuinely defensible for a long term career.

People like seeing other people, they like watching the artistry involved in crafting something, they enjoy learning new things, discussing politics or work with a friendly but not too well-known face. Well some people do anyway, the sort that can wrap their heads around the idea that the pour costs and salary requirements in Australia mean that a Negroni should be around $23-$25 not $16-$18.

Don’t all bartenders get paid the same anyway? Well yes it is an unfortunate state of affairs that almost all bar staff get paid the same hourly rate. If anything those working in small craft-focused bars usually get paid less because they understand their bosses genuinely aren’t making much money and are usually working alongside them.

Gone are the days of bartending godfather Jerry Thomas earning as much each week as the President of the United States. These days you’re lucky to be earning as much as the guy at 7Eleven. The difference is the tips.

The peak hours for tips are 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights in large volume venues (i.e. nightclubs). Working for those hours will earn the average barperson upwards of $200 in tips per shift.

The problem is these tips will be split between everyone at the end of the night based on the number of hours worked. Thus your $200 becomes a paltry $50 if you are really lucky and $20 if we’re being realistic. That’s if your bar manager/owner even pays out the tips appropriately.

Eftpos and PIN only transactions have very much crushed the tipping boom that was happening in Australia to the point where, rather ironically, the biggest tippers are often other hospitality people spending their end-of-shift tips in other bars. So why did we mention craft-focused cocktail bars?

Because their peak tipping times are actually 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. as they often have earlier licenses. A good cocktail “mixologist” that is also great at customer service and entertaining people can easily rake in $100 in tips over those hours in the right venue. This will only be split between a few staff due to the size of the establishment and most of them have earned a similar amount. So maybe your bad tipping night will be $20-$50 at the end and you aren’t dealing with a cloud of sweat and bad dubstep all night.

How do you get to be a bartender worthy of someone shoving $50 bills in your waistcoat?

  1. Get your RSA (Google RSA and your state)
  2. Read the books listed below
  3. Watch the videos listed below
  4. Work under a damn good bartender who takes it seriously
  5. Be professional and never forget that the customer isn’t always right but your job is to make them feel amazing regardless


The Books:

Jerry Thomas' Bartender's Guide 1862

A reprint of the very first 1862 edition of Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide 'How To Mix Drinks or A Bon Vivant's Companion '. This drink recipe book is probably the most famous bartenders' and cocktail book of all time.

The Bar Book - Jeffrey Morganthaler

The only technique-driven cocktail handbook, breaking bartending down into essential techniques that anyone can understand and then applying them to building the best drinks.

Liquid Intelligence - Dave Arnold

A revolutionary approach to making better-looking, better-tasting drinks. The shape of an ice cube, the sugars and acids in an apple, and the bubbles in a bottle of champagne are all ingredients to be measured, tested, and tweaked.


The Videos:

This Playlist

And This Playlist

The Super Secret Tip

Did you notice anything interesting about the hours listed above? If you take the prep and opening shifts on Friday and Saturday in a good cocktail bar, leave by 11 p.m., hop in your car and turn on your driver’s app and drive people for three hours each night you’re earning more than a lot of university graduates do in their first five years.

You’re also doing it in just 22 hours per week. Over two days. You even get to sleep in on Sunday. If you’re studying or working a job during the week this is not a bad way to live for a few years.

You can save a decent amount of money while you’re schlepping a job or degree. Maybe even save enough of a deposit to buy a studio apartment to rent to students at a loss to offset your HELP debt when you finally make enough money later.


And just incase the robots haven’t scared you enough…. Watch this:


OK I Get It, Uber

You can love or hate this article but please share, comment or tag people that need to read it. At least we aren’t selling you a shitty info product on how to become an internet millionaire or property giant in just 6 weeks right?




Bar owner, coffee roaster, mixologist of the molecular and enthusiast of all things grape, grain, sugar, honey and yeast related.