Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

How much money do waitresses make?

Waitresses usually need to consider three factors when determining how much they actually earn each year and by the hour.

Those factors are the minimum wage law, their employer's hourly pay scale and customers' tips. For example, an employer may provide low hourly pay, but an experienced waitress who provides fast, efficient service to customers may earn tips that exceed her employer's pay rate.


Waitresses' duties vary among employers, and some may have several responsibilities outside of taking customers' food orders and serving meals. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that waitresses who work at restaurants that are more formal may meet with managers before they start working each day to discuss the day's menu and meal specials.

The bureau includes waitress salaries in its data on all food servers, including waiters. The data show the mean annual salary for food servers in 2010 was £13,513, and their average pay per hour was £6.40.


Full-service restaurants that offer in-house dining and a wide selection of meals are among the top employers of waitresses and other food servers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that those types of restaurants employed more than 1.7 million servers in 2010. However, the pay that servers received at full-service restaurants that year was below average at £6.40 per hour or £13,390 per year. The bureau notes the overall tips that waitresses and other servers receive at full-service restaurants are often higher than their wages.

Top-Paying Locations

Waitresses who don't have experience may only receive the federal minimum wage, which was set at £4.70 per hour in 2009. However, some states set a higher minimum wage for hourly employees.

Washington, D.C. is among the top-paying states for food servers, where servers earned mean wages of £9.30 per hour or £19,337 per year in 2010 based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Boston, Massachusetts and Burlington, Vermont were among the top-paying cities for servers that year. Boston waitresses and other servers earned a mean annual salary of £20,052, and they earned an average annual salary of £19,448 in Burlington in 2010.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes some exceptions that apply under minimum wage laws that affect waitresses' income. Tipped employees include workers who regularly receive tips that total more than £19 per month.

The bureau indicates that employers may consider tips as part of a server's wages. However, employers are still required to pay servers at least £1.30 per hour in wages no matter how much a server receives in tips.