The median hourly wage for food and beverage serving and related workers was $8.72 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.54 per hour, and the top 10 percent earned more than $11.62 per hour.
Median hourly wages for food and beverage serving and related workers in May 2010 were as follows:
Some food and beverage serving workers receive customer tips. In some restaurants, workers contribute all or a portion of their tips to a tip pool, which is distributed among qualifying workers. Tip pools allow workers who do not usually receive tips directly from customers, such as dining room attendants, to be part of a team and to share in the rewards for good service.
Although some workers in this occupation earn tips, the majority get their earnings from hourly wages. Many entry-level or inexperienced workers earn the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour as of July 24, 2009). However, many others earn more per hour because they work in states that set minimum wages higher than the federal minimum.
Also, various exceptions to the minimum wage apply under specific circumstances to disabled workers, full-time students, youths under age 20 in their first 90 days of employment, tipped employees, and student learners. Tipped employees are those who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the employer may consider tips as part of wages, but the employer must pay at least $2.13 an hour in direct wages.
In 2010, about half of all food and beverage serving and related workers worked part time. Food service and drinking establishments typically have long dining hours and offer flexible and varied work opportunities. Many workers work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition