Restaurant Report » Key Stats
PayScale's Restaurant Report
The Agony and Ecstasy of Food Service Workers

Restaurant Report Key Stats

Ever wondered how much the waiters, waitresses, chefs, cooks, bartenders, bussers and other staff at your favorite restaurants actually earn? The truth is that salaries of restaurant workers vary a lot depending on their job title, but other factors, like gender, can affect that as well. PayScale pulled data from 15,000 restaurant workers who took the PayScale Salary Survey in the last two years to find out what the people who prepare and serve your breakfast, lunch and dinner really earn.

The average restaurant worker earns a base salary of $9.90 an hour, plus $3.40 per hour in tips, giving them a median total salary of $13.30 per hour. That means that 25 percent of their total incomes come from tips. Most restaurant workers say they work part-time, and report working 31.7 hours per week.

By Gender

Gender Median
% of Total
Hourly Pay
from Tips
Female $9.60 $3.70 28%
Male $10.40 $2.70 20%

When we look at men and women separately, we see some interesting differences between how much money they earn, where it comes from and how much they say they work. Men report slightly higher hourly salaries - $13.30 per hour, compared to the median hourly salary for female restaurant workers, which is $13.10 per hour. However, women report significantly lower base salaries ($9.60 per hour for women vs. $10.40 per hour for men), but higher tips. Female restaurant workers say that 28 percent of their income comes from tips and report a median hourly tip income of $3.70, whereas men report that they only earn $2.70 in tips per hour, meaning tips only account for 20 percent of their salary. Men also report working longer hours than women – 34.3 hours per week for men, versus 30.70 hours per week for women.

This doesn't necessarily mean that women get higher tips and men get paid higher base salaries for the same jobs. Rather, when we look at salary statistics by job title, we see that pay varies a lot depending on your job title. Sous Chefs and Head Chefs earn the highest salaries ($13.70 an $12.70 per hour, respectively), and men are much more likely to hold these jobs. In addition more men tend to go into management and leadership roles than women.

By Job Type

Job Median
% of Total
Hourly Pay
from Tips
Asst. Manager,
Fast Food
$9.90 $0.40 4%
Asst. Restaurant
$11.20 $1.60 12%
Banquet Captain $12.20 $8.70 42%
Bar Manager $10.40 $5.50 34%
Barista $8.70 $1.20 12%
Bartender $6.70 $9.60 59%
Busser $7.80 $2.50 24%
Dishwasher $8.40 $0.30 4%
Fast Food
$7.80 $0.30 4%
Food Server $7.40 $8.30 53%
Head Chef $12.60 $0.90 7%
Line Cook $10.40 $0.70 6%
Pizza Cook /
Chef / Maker
$8.60 $0.80 8%
Prep Cook $9.50 $0.40 4%
$8.60 $1.60 16%
$11.90 $0.80 6%
Sous Chef $13.70 $0.50 3%
Waiter/Waitress $5.00 $8.20 62%

When you look at which job titles report the highest tips, Bartenders come out in first place. Bartenders say that 59 percent of their income comes from tips - $9.60 an hour. That also gives them the second-highest total hourly pay ($16.30 per hour). Banquet Captains report the highest overall pay ($20.30 per hour), thanks to their combined base pay of $12.20 per hour and hourly tips of $8.70 per hour.

Bartenders out-earn Bar Managers when tips are counted.

Earnings aren't very high for most restaurant workers, and neither are their job meaning statistics. Assistant Managers at Fast Food restaurants report the lowest job meaning (22 percent). Head Chefs are most likely to say that their work is meaningful – 53 percent say their work makes the world a better place. 52 percent of Banquet Captains report high job meaning.

43 percent of the US workforce says that they are underemployed, but that number is even higher for restaurant workers. 59 percent of male restaurant workers say they are underemployed, and 58 percent of female restaurant workers say that they are underemployed. It is interesting that Head Chefs are most likely to say that they are underemployed (69 percent) even though that job title requires more training and education than most other restaurant workers. On the other hand, only 51 percent of pizza makers say that they are underemployed.

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