beer industry pay

You’ve always wanted a job in the beer or brewing industry. Let’s take a look at tips and tricks on how to get your foot in the door, what the different job opportunities in a brewery actually are, and we’ll answer the big question: how much money do brewers make and how much money can you make working in a brewery?

Looking to start your career in the beer industry? Working with beer sounds like a beer-lovers dream — but is working in the beer industry actually everything you thought it would be and will it pay the bills? How much money you can make when working in a brewery is dependent on the size of the brewery, your knowledge and experience and of course, which position you are working. Many times, small brewpub’s only employees are the brewers and brewmasters, while large and macro breweries require more employees to complete the large workload. Brewing beer is a very hands-on job and there are many steps, which means it requires a lot of employees to keep things running smoothly. Here are some of the positions, salaries and job duties often offered at brewpubs and breweries.

Brewmaster / Master Brewer 

What does a brewmaster even do? The brewmaster oversees the entire brewing process, recipes, collaborations, and more. They also manage the brewers below them. It typically requires over 10 years of experience in the brewing industry to become a brewmasters and they also are often cicerones too.

So, how much does a brewmaster make per year? In a large brewery, top-earning brewmasters can make up to $100,000 a year. At craft brewpubs, they earn on average $40,000 – $50,000 per year.

 Head or Lead Brewer

The head brewer is usually one of the top positions at the brewery. They have duties and responsibilities very similar to those of a brewmaster.

How much do head brewers make per year? Head brewers working in small brewpubs, earn a yearly salary of $46,000 on average. They average around $51,000 per year in large brewpubs. Brewers who work in small breweries earn an average of $42,500 a year, while brewers in medium to large scale breweries can make up to $75,000 a year.

What’s the difference between a brewmaster and a brewer? The brewmaster handles the brewery’s production from start to finish. At many breweries, the brewmaster is one position higher than the head or lead brewer but brewers and brewmasters have similar job descriptions. While they typically do the same work,  the brewmaster has more industry experience.

 Brewer, Shift Brewer, Production Brewer 

The brewer’s position is to help the lead brewer with the brewing process.

How much do brewers make per year? Shift brewers at small brewpubs earn an average of just over $20,000 per year and at larger brewpubs, their salary is typically over $26,000 per year. Brewers working at small breweries averaged with a salary of around $24,000 and at lager breweries, they earn on average $33,000 per year.

 Brewer’s Assistant, Assistant Brewer

A brewer’s assistant is exactly what the name implies — an assistant. The assistant brewer is usually responsible for cleaning brewing equipment, filling kegs, and helping the brewers maintain a smooth process throughout the brew. 

How much money do assistant brewers make? Assistant brewers are typically paid hourly which varies greatly from brewery to brewery and location.

Beer Packager or Packaging Technician 

A packaging technician is in charge of packaging beer into bottles, cans and kegs. They also operate all packaging equipment machinery.

How much do beer packagers make per year? At small breweries packagers earn an average salary of $22,000. At larger breweries, they make about $25,000 per year.

Brewery Laboratory Technician

What does a brewery lab tech do? A laboratory technician, a.k.a lab tech, isn’t always a role at all breweries and their wage depends heavily on the size of the brewery.

How much do lab techs make at a brewery? At a large brewery, a lab tech earns $35,000 – $40,000 per year on average. 

 Beer Cellar Manager Salary

Cellar managers are in charge of all aspects of the “cold-side” of the brewing process and day-to-day labor of all cellar operations.

How much do cellar managers make? Cellar managers earn between $30,000 and $40,000 per year.

Other Jobs in the Beer Industry

Of course, there are lots of other job opportunities in the beer industry, including supervisors, managers, beer specialists in liquor stores, and educators. The wages of these positions are all dependent on the size of company you work for, and where you live.

How to Land a Job in the Beer Industry:

The best way to get your foot into the door in the beer industry is to know what you are doing. A certificate or degree from an accredited school is typically needed when applying for jobs in the beer industry. Attending school to learn more about beer and the brewing process gives you the hands-on experience that most breweries are looking for when hiring.

Many four-year schools and community colleges offer degree or certificate programs. These programs are perfect for those are interested in starting a career in brewing, expanding their current brewing knowledge and practice, or those that are considering opening a brewpub or microbrewery. The typical curriculum is designed with direct input and participation by brewing professionals, owners of breweries and brewpubs and distillers. The programs may be designed by craft beverage professionals and are set up to meet industry needs, and also address potential issues faced by entrepreneurs aspiring to startup a microbrewery or brewpubs. The courses offered usually introduce the science, operation, business, finishing, packaging and service of beer and distilled spirits, and prepare students to pursue employment in a wide variety of positions in a craft beverage operation.

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