How Much Do Waitresses Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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Turning Customer Care Into Cash

Waitressing is an often fast-paced job with variable shifts that can make a viable employment option for working mothers. Earning potential rises with your education and experience and the type of establishment in which you work. Part-time, on-call and shift work can also be a boon for moms who are looking for flexibility, as well as daily cash flow in the form of tips.

Job Description

In general, waitresses are responsible for providing a pleasant dining experience for customers. Duties can include a variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Seating
  • Describing menu items and answering food preparation questions
  • Providing insight and suggestions for drink orders
  • Delivering food and ensuring its accuracy and taste 
  • Stopping by frequently to check on a meal’s progression and inquire about additional needs
  • Delivering the check and processing payment at the end of the meal

Other job requirements can include setting tables, bussing tables, and before-and-after work prep such as filling condiment caddies and rolling silverware. In smaller establishments, waitresses may also be responsible for taking reservations and checking out customers at a cash register.

Education Requirements

While entry-level waitress jobs don’t typically require specific training or education beyond high school, you may have to be 21 if an establishment serves alcohol. A food handling license or techniques of alcohol management certification may also be required as a hiring requirement. Degrees related to the hospitality industry can help you move up the ladder in the restaurant business, allowing for higher-paying positions in elite establishments, as well as management roles. Some helpful degrees include restaurant management, business, culinary arts or mixology training.

Industry

While restaurants are the most prevalent industry in which waitresses can secure employment, a variety of other establishments also hire waitresses:

  • Catering businesses
  • Bars and clubs
  • Wedding and event halls
  • Country clubs and resorts
  • Hotel room service
  • Buffets
  • Casinos

Years of Experience

Knowledgeable, experienced waitresses are better prepared for positions in high-end fine dining restaurants, which, on-average, pay significantly more than smaller chain restaurants and mom-and-pop venues. Employers typically pay minimum wage, which is supplemented by tip income.

  • Entry-Level: $8,522‒$36,009
  • Mid-Level: $10,341‒$44,605
  • Experienced: $9,862‒$49,467 

Job Growth Trend

Waitressing jobs are abundant, and, in many cases, they are seasonal, part-time or temporary types of work. This often means a higher-than-average turnover rate, which means new jobs can quickly become available. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average median salary for waitresses in 2020 was $23,740 or $11.42 per hour. It’s anticipated that waitressing jobs will grow by 20 percent in the next decade, slightly above pace when compared to other industries.

Geographic State and Metropolitan Salary Map for Waiters and Waitresses