The typical waiter or waitress earns $17.10 to $22.20 per hour, depending on the level of his or her experience, according to a survey of restaurateurs conducted by the National Restaurant Association.
The bulk of that compensation comes in the form of tips: $13.50 for entry level servers, on average, and $18.20 for those with experience, the research shows.
The Association also found that servers take home considerably more money in states that don't let tips count toward the waitstaffers' minimum wage. In California, Oregon, and Washington State, none of which accept the so-called tip credit, the typical pay varies from $21.50 for inexperienced waiters and waitresses, or a 26% premium over what their peers collect nationally, to $26.60 for seasoned employees, or 20% more than the national average for a similar level of experience.
"These figures confirm what restaurant owners and employees already know--that waitstaff positions are not just flexible, but well-paying as well," said Lee Culpepper, the NRA's SVP of government affairs and public policy.