The Job and What's Involved

Publicans manage licensed premises, such as pubs, bars, clubs and wine bars. Their status with regard to the business varies:

Pub owners - buy the business and the building.

Lessees - lease the premises at an agreed rent from a brewery or pub management company (pubco). Depending on the terms of the lease, lessees are often responsible for repairs to the building during the period of the lease.

Tenants - rent the building, usually on a shorter term than a lease, and are responsible only for the fittings and for minor internal maintenance.

Employees - work on a salary basis for a brewery or pubco.

Tenants and lessees are often tied to selling the produce of the brewery or pubco.

The job can involve:

  • Serving customers.
  • Laying tables, cleaning, clearing and tidying up.
  • Stocktaking, ordering from suppliers and arranging deliveries.
  • Maintaining the cellar.
  • Organising food service from the kitchens.
  • Recruiting, training and managing staff.
  • Arranging staff rota's and time off.
  • Keeping the books and paying wages.
  • Dealing securely with large amounts of cash.
  • Enforcing the law on the sale of alcohol on licensed premises.
  • Ensuring that health and safety requirements are met.
  • Dealing with legal paperwork.
  • Deciding how to improve customer service and develop the business.
  • Organising and advertising promotions or special events.
  • Making regular business performance reports.
  • Liasing with breweries, the police and the licensing authorities.

The hours of work are long and involve evenings and/or weekends, sometimes until the early hours of the morning.

Establishments vary widely in size, style and atmosphere, from relaxed country pubs to city-centre theme bars.

Pubs can be hot, noisy and crowded. The work requires long periods of standing, walking up and down stairs, and usually lifting and carrying crates and barrels.

Many publicans live in, making it difficult for them to get away from the working environment.

A publican training with a large brewery or pub chain may have to travel to different premises. Experienced publicans may need to relocate to a different part of the country to progress their careers.

The starting salary for a trainee manager may be from around £14,000 a year. Experienced managers and tenants may earn around £30,000 a year and the earnings of lessees and pub owners in successful establishments may exceed £50,000 a year.

Accommodation is sometimes available on the premises. Managers may receive benefits such as pensions, health schemes and performance bonuses, as well as tips and free meals on duty.

Lessees and owners can make capital gains by selling on their business at a profit.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 60,000 publicans and managers of licensed premises in the UK, about 20 per cent of whom are self-employed. Although the proportion of employed managers has increased over the years, there are still good opportunities to become self-employed. The number of female publicans is increasing.

Job adverts are on brewery website's, in specialist publications and on website's such as,, and

Information about specific companies can be found at

Education and Training

No specified academic qualifications are required, but the Diploma in hospitality may be relevant. There are various entry routes:

1. As a bar person, with progression to management.

2. Through an Apprenticeship in hospitality or food and drink service.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

Those under 18 years cannot serve alcoholic drinks.

Some pubcos run management training schemes. Applicants should have both relevant experience and a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND, or degree in a relevant subject, e.g. business, marketing, and hospitality management with licensed retail.

Every publican must obtain a personal licence, which is available to people aged 18 or over who have a licensing qualification, usually the British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB), Education Development International (EDI) or Graded Qualifications Alliance (GQAL) Level 2 National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders.

Applicants for a personal licence have to declare any criminal convictions and undergo checks by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Owners also have to apply for a premises licence through their local council or licensing board, by submitting a detailed plan with proposed opening hours and provision for protection of the public and prevention of crime. They generally also have to invest financially in their own enterprise. For pub owners, tenants and lessees, this is often a second career.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Publicans are usually trained on the job and follow a structured training path. Some pub companies offer one or two-week training courses for people planning to take on premises. Prior discussion with an independent business adviser is recommended.

Trainees get marketing, management and brand-specific training. They are often sent to different establishments as relief managers before taking up a permanent position.

Recognised qualifications include:

  • BIIAB Level 3 Diploma or Advanced Certificate in Licensed Hospitality
  • Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualifications at Levels 1-3
  • NVQ in hospitality supervision at Level 3.
  • NVQ in food and drink service at Level 2.

People progressing from bar jobs can take the BIIAB Level 1 Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing or the BIIAB Level 1 Certificate in Alcohol Awareness. These teach basic knowledge of the licensing law and can lead on to the Level 2 National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A publican should be:

  • Energetic.
  • Honest and trustworthy.
  • Cool under pressure.
  • Sales and customer orientated.
  • Sociable, patient and tactful.
  • Assertive when dealing with difficult situations.
  • A team player, as well as a leader.
  • A good staff manager.
  • A good negotiator.
  • Financially astute.

Your Long Term Prospects

Publicans, whether self-employed or working for a pub chain, may move on to larger establishments or progress into regional management, in fields such as marketing, property or business development.

There may also be opportunities abroad.

Get Further Information

British Institute of Innkeeping (BII),
Wessex House, 80 Park Street,
Camberley GU15 3PT
Tel: 01276 684449
Websites: and

British Beer & Pub Association, Market Towers,
1 Nine Elms Lane, London SW8 5NQ
Tel: 020 7627 9191

Education Development International,
International House, Siskin Parkway East,
Middlemarch Business Park, Coventry CV3 4PE
Tel: 08707 202909

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 817012

The Springboard Charity & Springboard UK Ltd, Coopers' Hall,
13 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4TH
Tel: 020 7497 8654

Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET),
International Wine & Spirit Centre,
39-45 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Tel: 020 7089 3800

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