The median hourly wage for waiters and waitresses was $9.25 in May 2015.
The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.08, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $17.14.
Many waiters and waitresses get their earnings from a combination of hourly wages and customer tips. Earnings vary greatly with the type of establishment and locality. For example, tips are generally much higher in upscale restaurants in major metropolitan areas and resorts.
Tipped employees earn at least the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour, as of July 24, 2009), which may be paid as a combination of direct wages and tips, depending on the state. Direct wages may be as low as $2.13 per hour according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
According to the FLSA, tipped employees are those who regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor maintains a website with minimum wages for tipped employees, by state, although some localities have enacted minimum wages higher than their state requires.
Many employers provide meals and furnish uniforms, but some may deduct the cost from wages.
About 1 in 2 waiters and waitresses worked part time in 2014. Many work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. This is especially true for those who work in full-service restaurants, which employed about 78 percent of all waiters and waitresses in 2014.
In resorts that offer seasonal employment, waiters and waitresses might be employed for only a few months each year.
Waiters and Waitresses
Median hourly wages, May 2015
Total, all occupations
Waiters and waitresses
Food and beverage serving workers
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics