Brewing is a passionate profession, and passion is the first step to a rewarding career in the industry.
However, following through on the next steps (two through a thousand) is what makes the difference between people who are able to turn that passion into a career and those who are never able to get their foot in the door.
As a brewing industry job board, Brewing Work has a first-hand look at what it takes to get started in the brewing industry. We’ve put together our five favorite pieces of advice for anyone looking to start working at a brewery, so it’s time to shine up your resume and start taking notes.
1. Put In The Hours
The brewing industry requires specialized knowledge, scientific precision, and commitment. While a background in homebrewing can help, it’s not enough. To earn that knowledge and understanding requires one of three things: a degree in brewing, experience working at a brewery, or both.
In a 2018 industry survey, Beervana found that 35% of brewery workers had a brewing-related degree. 44% of respondents had 2-5 years of experience and 32% had over five years, so only 24% of respondents had worked for less than two years.
What these numbers show is the importance of dedication and the freedom to choose the path which works best for you. Whether it’s earning a degree or starting at the bottom of the brewery hierarchy by volunteering or working part-time, putting in the hours is by far the most important step in a brewing career.
2. Learn Your Trade
In an industry lead by the people who truly love their craft and the work they do, the best way to advance is to stay curious.
In our guide to acing your brewery interview, we recommend keeping a mental list of the media you use to stay up-to-date on the industry. The counterpoint to this advice is that you should have such a list in the first place.
Over and over again, we hear success stories which owe their happy endings to passion and knowledge. We live in a golden age for anyone who wants to learn about the ins and outs of, and advances in, craft brewing. Books, blogs (like ours!), podcasts, and conferences are only some of the resources you can utilize in your learning.
3. Be Flexible
No matter how much you read, actually working in the industry is a different beast entirely. To stay afloat, keep your expectations and goals flexible.
For example, over time you may find yourself drawn to a different career path than you expected. While a career as a brewer gets the lion’s share of interest, there are countless other jobs required for the smooth running of a brewery. Whether it’s working in HR or an another administrative role, a sales or marketing position, or simply a position you didn’t anticipate enjoying, goals and careers can change with time.
Of course, different roles may require different training. This is another reason to stay flexible: you may need to pursue experience or degrees you didn’t otherwise plan on. By considering opportunities as they arise, you give yourself room to grow.
4. Cultivate A Reputation
As you build your experience, you will also be building a reputation. To move forward in brewing, it’s critical to do two things: network, and ensure that what your network hears about you is positive.
Despite how quickly the industry has expanded, brewing is still a community. Use this to your advantage. Taking part in industry events will allow you expand your circle of acquaintances, while keeping up a positive reputation at your brewery will keep your options open as you grow into your career.
After all, if you’re known to be a reliable, detail-oriented worker who’s involved in the community, more doors will be open to you than if you keep to yourself or offer only just-good-enough work. This doesn’t require changing your personality if you’re an introvert, only staying curious and open to possibility.
5. Don’t Get Discouraged
Very few industries reward newcomers immediately, but the passion people feel for brewing can make those early setbacks deeply discouraging. Whether it’s being passed over for interviews, making a mistake on your first day, or having a tough talk with your superiors, there are days where it will feel as though you aren’t cut out for the industry.
Stay determined. If you’re looking for your first job, keep looking; you’ll find the right place for you to jump into the deep end. (We can help!) If you make a mistake, learn from it and do your best to move forward.
The brewing industry is a fascinating, exciting place to work, but every day offers new challenges. Rise to meet them and you’re well on your way to creating a career in brewing.