Waitresses ensure that customers enjoy their experience at restaurants, bars, cafes, banquet halls and many other food-service environments. They take food and beverages orders, and deliver the filled orders as efficiently as possible. They also set up and clean the service area and respond to customer enquiries. Waitresses' salaries will vary depending upon where and in which sector of the industry they work.
In its national survey of employment and wages conducted in 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gathered pay information from over 2 million individuals working as waiting staff. It calculated that the average hourly salary for a waitress -- or a waiter -- was $9.80. This extrapolates to a monthly income of $1,698 and a yearly rate of $20,380. Salary comparison website PayScale.com stated that wages ranged between $3.37 and $7.89, not including tips, as of 2011.
Pay by Industry
Waitresses earn differing levels of pay depending on which area of the food service industry they work in. The BLS found that the majority of waitresses worked in full-service restaurants and the average pay rate within this sector was $9.69. Other waitresses work in limited-service eating places in which the average pay rate was given as $8.69 and traveler accommodations -- hotels and guest houses -- where the rate was $11.61 an hour. Waitresses in drinking establishments earned an average hourly rate of $9.10.
Pay by Experience
PayScale.com also analyzed how experience impacts upon a waitress’ pay rate. It found that, generally, wage levels were not particularly affected by the accrual of experience. It listed the average rate for a waitress with less than 12 months of experience as between $3.43 and $7.56, while an individual with one to four years of experience received between $3.39 and $7.94. With between five and nine years in the profession, a waitress can expect to earn between $3.47 and $7.87 and someone with 10 to 19 years of experience may earn between $3.38 and $8.11.
Pay by Geography
The geographical location in which a waitress works also affects her salary. Across all industry sectors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed Washington and Massachusetts as the states in which a waitress was likely to secure the best rates -- $13.74 and $13.11 respectively. Vermont was third in the list at $13.04, while Montana was listed at just $8.36. At the level of metropolitan districts, the BLS listed the Boston, Cambridge, Quincy area of Massachusetts as the most lucrative for a waitress, with an average hourly rate of $14.14, while the Panama City, Lynn Haven district of Florida was listed at just $8.77.