How Much Do Servers Earn in the USA? | Highest-Paid Servers in 2022

All right! You’ve finished your studies or simply left the family nest to live your American dream on your own.

But, you have to find a job to support yourself. However, there is very little chance to get a job that fits your background right away.

This is why it is necessary to do odd jobs. Then, your friends suggest you work as a server.

Do you want to know if this is a good odd job for you? Let’s read this article, then.

Do Servers Get Tips?

To be honest, it is the main income even for servers in the USA. Why? Foremost, because Americans maintain a culture of meritocracy.

According to them, a person who does a good job deserves a reward. Tipping waiters in the US is so commonplace they have made the practice binding.

Indeed, a convention claims that customers must tip the waiter who served them at least 15% of the bill.

This is also due to the fact that in most cases, servers are paid minimum wage. In fact, they depend more on the value of the tip than the fee they receive in a day.

You understand now why waiters and bartenders live off their tips. And if you are sympathetic, that tip can go up to 20%.

How much do Servers Make?

If you want to work as a waiter, there are a few things you should know. Being a waiter is not a job like any other. In reality, a waiter works per hour.

The average salary of a waiter in the USA in 2021 is $ 14 per hour or on average $ 1950 per month.

This is significantly more than in other countries. In addition, the highest-paid servers receive a salary of $ 29,620 every year.

But as we said before, the money a waiter makes depends seriously on the tip he earns.

Thanks to that, a waiter can earn up to 250 $ per day if the restaurant receives many customers and they order enough food.

The salary of a waiter also depends on the reputation of the restaurant. A waiter who works in a starred restaurant will be paid more than in an ordinary restaurant.

Nevertheless, in most cases, there are restaurants that are not starred but acquire a considerable reputation and can offer a generous salary to servers.

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This is the case for example with fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s, Starbucks, or Domino.

But don’t be fooled, experience also counts for your salary. In fact, it is quite possible that you will earn less than the modest salary of a waiter if you do not provide the required experience.

What is the Highest Paying Restaurant Job?

The restaurant industry is the second-largest private-sector employer in the United States.

Indeed, it accounts for nearly 10% of the country’s workforce since 2015. This explains the fact that many young students are increasingly coveting fields related to the sector.

It’s a good thing that you too are interested in a career in the food service industry.

Of course, you’ll be aiming for the highest-paying restaurant job. You’ll choose your career path based on the job you want to do. So here are 3 of the highest paying restaurant jobs :

Maitre d’hôtel

He or she is responsible for supervising the restaurant staff, which handles reservations and seating, as well as the servers.

According to Glassdoor, a professional maitre d’hôtel can earn $63,400 per year without the tips.

This suggests that the annual earnings of a maitre d’hôtel are potentially much higher.

Specific training is not required to become a maitre d’hôtel. In fact, this position requires more real-world experience.

Hard work and dedication count for more. So you won’t be surprised if a restaurant’s maitre d’hôtel was a former server in the past.

Indeed, 80% of restaurant owners started their careers in an entry-level position, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Pastry chef

Pastry chefs design the desserts and pastries on the menu you see. Again conceding to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for an executive pastry chef is $74,300 in New York City.

Since this is a handicraft profession, training in culinary school, especially in the pastry field will be necessary to occupy this position.

Naturally, they are under the direction of the Executive Chef, who for his part gains about $83,000 a year.


He is a specialist in wines, champagnes, and liqueurs in large hotels and restaurants. He manages the cellar of the establishment, and advises, and serves these different drinks.

The salary of a sommelier in the USA depends on his or her experience and the prestige of the establishment for which he or she works. Usually, the salary is around $100,000 per year for the most experienced.

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As a general rule, to get a job as a sommelier in the US, you not only need to have a diploma in Sommelier but also experience.

The top 10 States with the Highest Paid Servers in 2022

Besides the experience and reputation of a restaurant, pay for waiters can also vary widely across states.

The state minimum wage requirements can affect this. This is primarily due to their economic conditions.

But also because of their sightseeing businesses reputation.

So, if you are seeking a job as a waiter in the US, take into account the geographical criterion.

To help you here is the top 10 states with the highest paid waiters in 2021:

  • California
  • Washington
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Colardo
  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut

#1. California

The state is in the first place because of a significant quota. In fact, an entry-level server in California earns $15.55 per hour and has a more chance of being hired because restaurants are looking for a lot of servers.

#2. Washington

The capital of the United States comes in second place, offering a minimum wage of $14 per hour.

However, recruitment is stricter than in California because the majority of restaurants are Michelin-starred. On the other hand, customers offer frequently tips to waiters.

#3. Massachusetts

The minimum wage for a waiter in Massachusetts is $13.5 per hour. Like California, finding a job as a waiter is very accessible. However, tips do not exceed 15% of the bill.

#4. New York

The minimum wage for a waiter in New York is $12.5 per hour. Merely like in Washington, finding a job as a waiter is extremely rigid but the tips are very valuable.

#5. Colorado

This year, Colorado is inviting more and more servers than Arizona by offering them an average wage of $12.32 per hour.

#6. Arizona

While Arizona held the top spot as the state offering the best salary for a server in 2019, this year it is attracting few candidates.

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Indeed, the minimum wage has not increased ($12.15 per hour). Nevertheless, it continues to recruit just as much as California and the tips make many happy.

#7. Maine

Portland is in 7th place because of the various modest restaurants which began operating.

The number of jobs in the restaurant industry is increasing. In addition, the cost of living is easy to work as a waiter, as waiters receive the same wage as in Arizona.

However, customers are not very receptive to giving more than the typical tips.

#8. New Jersey

The minimum wage for a server has increased from $9 to $12 per hour in New Jersey.

Because of many restaurants have opened their doors. Like Portland, the cost of living allows restaurants to offer attractively priced menus and entice many customers.

#9. Oregon

The minimum wage for a server in Oregon is similar to that of a server in New Jersey. But unlike the latter, few restaurants hire servers. However, tips help considerably to live comfortably.

#10. Connecticut

This is arguably the state that has gotten much better at offering waiters’ wages. It matches New Jersey and Oregon at $12 per hour.

Unfortunately, it is onerous to work as a waiter, as the majority of establishments are small restaurants that hire 2 or 3 waiters at most.


In sum, if you want to work as a waiter for a while, don’t just rely on the basic salary. There are many reasons why, despite a modest salary, the waiter’s job can become very interesting.

Judging by the money a waiter can make from tips, you can obtain the same salary as a real employee and save money early on.

And if the restaurant business represents your favorite professional field, starting out as a waiter may help you climb the ladder to becoming a maître d’hôtel or general manager!


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