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I want to be a barista. What will my salary be?

If you want to be a barista, you have to be friendly, energetic and able to learn how to make a great latte.

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Job: Starbucks barista

Salary: Minimum wage plus a benefits package for "partners" who work more than 20 hours a week. Benefits include health and dental coverage as well as registered retirement savings plan and stock grant matching programs. There is also a tuition reimbursement program for employees who have worked at the company for more than a year. Store managers earn between $45,000 and $60,000 a year, while regional directors can make up to six figures.

Education: No formal education is required, but baristas are trained on the Starbucks lingo and how to make a number of different drinks. Grande, Quad, Non-fat, One-Pump, No-Whip, Mocha at 120 degrees anyone?

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The role: It's not just about making those complex beverages. Baristas also need to connect with customers and try to remember what the regulars have each time they come in. There are also the daily chores of making coffee, cleaning the store (including washrooms) and stocking the shelves.

By the numbers: Starbucks Canada employs more than 16,000 people as of October, 2013. That's up from 13,800 in 2011, the company says.

Job prospects: Starbucks is expanding, so there are more jobs all the time. That said, there is a lot of competition for these roles, especially as more young people have trouble landing careers out of college or university. "Every time we hire a barista, we have a big pool of applicants to choose from," says Jessica Novak, a store manager at Starbucks in North York, Ont.

Challenges: The early morning hours can be tough. "We are up and ready to serve coffee when most people are still rolling out of bed," Ms. Novak says. It's also a physical job that leaves you on your feet all day. Then there are the cranky customers – one of the perils of working in a service role. "We do our best," Ms. Novak says.

Why they do it: It's a job people often fall into, then find there are opportunities for advancement, Ms. Novak says. The benefits package is a lure, as are the flexible hours, especially for parents like Ms. Novak. Baristas are often outgoing people and enjoy the buzz of working in a fast-paced coffee-shop environment.

Misconceptions: That baristas couldn't get a job somewhere else. Or, that they're just working there while they attend college or university. While that may be true in some cases, Ms. Novak said she chose the career and finds the environment challenging and fun.

Give us the Scoop: Are you a coffee barista in Canada? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

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About the Author
Contributor

Brenda Bouw is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver. She has more than 20 years of experience as a business reporter, including at The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, the Financial Post and was executive producer at BNN (formerly ROBTv). Brenda was also part of the Globe and Mail reporting team that won the 2010 National Newspaper Award for business journalism. More

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