Do Servers Make Good Money? (Yes, If You Do This))

When it comes to servers, waiters, waitresses, or whatever you want to call them, it is natural to wonder do they get paid well? The answer to this question is complicated, and there are more factors to it than for a usual job; however, you will learn everything you need to know as you keep reading.

This article will teach you how much money do servers actually make and some additional facts that are extremely important to understand about the paychecks of servers and the job in general. Before we go to these things, we need to know, do servers make good money?

The server’s median salary is $23,740 annually, but it usually falls between $19,290 – $30,650. The least 10% of earners made around $17,520, and the top 10% earned $42,550. In the U.S, the hourly wage of a server is only $2.13; therefore, the vast majority of earnings consist of tips.

As we can see, there are low chances of getting rich when working as a server. Although, there are extreme cases where the waiter earns more than +$70,000 annually. In these cases, the server probably works somewhere with extremely high-cost meals and generous tippers.

If we want to understand more about the servers’ earnings, we need to get more in-depth to the subject and dig deep. Let’s take a look at what affects the server’s paychecks so you can understand how you could make the best of the situation!


One of the biggest variables on how much does a server make is the location they work in. It has a huge difference whether they work in California or texas because the spending habits and income levels vary so drastically. In fact, the paychecks may vary with more than $10,000 annually, and location is one reason customers choose a restaurant. I have made a chart below so you can really see the huge differences.

StateEmploymentAverage hourly wageAverage annual wage
California211,700$ 16.49$ 34,300
New York105,100$ 18.99$ 39,510
Texas179,900$ 10.28$ 21,370
Florida168,78012.91$ 26,860
Source: U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics

Restaurant & Industry

The second biggest factor for the waiter’s earnings is the type of restaurant and the industry they work in. Again, the differences between a breakfast diner and a bar or nightclub are astronomical because when people are out to party and a little drunk, they tip way more than a person who is pissed off for going to work comes to get a take-away coffee.

Also, some other places with high earning potential are hotels, fine dining restaurants, country clubs, etc, where people are more wealthy and used to spend money. You can see a second chart below that shows the differences between industry and restaurant types.

Restaurant typeEmploymentAverage hourly wageAverage annual wage
Restaurant1,586,420$ 13.00$ 27,030
Travel Accommodation108,350$ 15.35$ 31,940
Drinking Establishments42,960$ 12.50$ 26,010
Special Food Services52,490$ 15.51$ 32,260
Source: U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics


The vast majority of waiters have no formal education in the field, which is understandable. However, if you were to get one, your starting salary and job description would be higher, but tips would be the same because no customer could know that you have been to school, neither will they care in the matter of tipping.

Years of Experience

Years of experience will have some say on the salary. However, this really doesn’t affect tipping which is unfortunate because the usual salary paid by the employer is only $2.13. If you had +20 years of experience, it wouldn’t rise that much.

Of course, you could get a job in a more high-end restaurant where you could increase your tip income drastically. I have gathered some information below for you to see how much the salary will increase when you have certain years of experience.

Experience LevelAverage Hourly SalaryAverage Annual Salary
Entry Level$6.81$18,950
Early Career$6,94$23,450
Mid Career$7,21$29,868
Late Career$6,10$27,048
Source: Payscale

Performance & Skillset

If you want to really up to your game and paychecks, then offering good customer service and using your great skill set will result in the biggest pay raise you can realistically get in the serving business. How does this affect, you ask? Well, offering great service, smiling, and being nice will make the customers tip more, and that is where the majority of the salary will cost anyways.

Also, when demonstrating and telling about your skillset in your job application, it will open more doors to more potential restaurants where you could get tips that will be more consistent and bigger.

Additional Factors

Some additional factors will affect servers’ salary, such as appearance, worked hours, shifts, and negotiation skills. Let’s take a few examples here.


Believe it or not, appearance has a say in how much does the waiter actually makes. In fact, a recent study shows that a server who diners consider more attractive earns around $1261 more money annually than unattractive servers. The same study shows that beauty has a larger impact on female server’s earnings than males. Also, the study shows that beauty matters more for female than male customers.

Worked Hours

If you want to really stack up that paycheck, the most simple solution is working more. As a waiter, when you request more hours, it is usually granted because it’s the restaurant industry we are talking about. However, if your boss can’t offer you extra shifts, there are literally dozens if not hundreds of restaurants in your nearby area, and nothing stops you from getting a part-time job in another restaurant.


Working in the right shift will also add up the long term when considering earnings from tips. Think about it, if you work in a bar or a nightclub, the server that works a day shift will make a considerable amount less in tips than the person working on the busies hour at night when people are drunk and overly generous.

The same principle holds in nearly every kind of restaurant, and when there are more people you serve, the more rewards you will reap.

Negotiation Skills

Last but not least, if you are a master of negotiation you can always get more salary whenever you want. The degree of difficulty to actually perform this task right will depend on your negotiation skills and the person you need to convince, your boss. There are no rules that you can’t negotiate more salary for yourself, so there really isnät harm in trying.

How much does a waiter make a week

When thinking about a waiter’s salary, you can see the biggest difference per week because the received tips can be drastically different than last week. However, a waiter makes $456 per week on average. Many factors determine the paycheck, such as location, industry, and skillset.

How much can a waiter make in a month

The median monthly earnings of a waiter are 1978,33 dollars. This consists of hourly wages but most of them come in the form of tips.

How much money can you make as a server

The majority of servers will make between $19,290 – $30,650 annually, however, there are waiters that make between $50,000 – $70,000 and there have been waiters that have pulled in $100,000 as a server but this is extremely rare. The way to increase salary is to work in high-end hotels and restaurants.

The difference between restaurants and location is so huge in the serving industry that one waiter that works the same amount can earn $20,000 annually when the next one earns $70,000. As a server, you should consider increasing your skillset and applying for more high-end restaurants, hotels, and bars where the customers pass by on a business trip or are wealthier than the common people. This will increase your tips drastically.

Do servers make a lot in tips

The majority of the server’s salary consists of tips because if the server earns more than $30 in tips per month, the employer is legally allowed to pay only $2.13 per hour. And let’s be honest, you can earn $30 tips in one day, so the $2.13 per hour is the hourly wage on most waiters.

Read also: Why Do Waiters In America Expect Tips?

How much does the average server make with tips

The usual received tip amount is around %10 to %25 per check, and in most places, a single server can sell between $400-$700 (rough average), so the tips could be anywhere between $40-$175. Therefore the server will make $107,5 in tips on average. This will greatly wary between location and restaurant.

Do servers split their tips

This will depend on how the restaurant operates, but servers don’t usually split their tips. If they were to split the tips, it is called tip pooling, and the way it works is that the servers will gather all the received tips and redistribute them after the shift among all the employees.

Do servers make more than cooks

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for cooks is 27,250 annually, whereas the server’s median salary is 23,740. Therefore servers don’t make more than cooks, at least when examining the statistics.

The majority of a server’s salary consists of tips, and the reality is that many waiters do not report some of their tip income which could change the scale; however, not reporting income isn’t something you should do, and you could lose your job for that among other things.

Read also: Can a Chef Be Rich?


A server’s job is essential, and most people have deep respect for their job as they should. Working as a server won’t probably make you rich; however, it is a great job with benefits, and most waiters love the tipping system if they work in the right place for that.

I hope this article answered your question thoroughly and you have a perfect understanding of the money part of the server’s job, which isn’t as straightforward as it is in most jobs.

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Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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