What is the Average Server Salary?

Being a server, waitress, or waiter, is a flexible and in-demand job opportunity in the service industry. 

If you’re considering entering this field, you might be wondering, “How much do servers make?” and the truth is – the answer to this question is multifaceted.

It depends on various factors such as location, type of restaurant, shifts, and skill level. 

In this article, we will delve into the world of server salaries, examine the impact of tips, and explore the factors that influence earnings in this dynamic profession.

Let’s dig in! 

  1. Understanding Server Salaries

Determining the exact salary of a server can be challenging, considering the variations in pay structures and the inclusion of tips. 

However, there are some average figures and estimates that give you an idea of what to expect.

For example, ZipRecruiter’s latest reports claim that the average pay for a server in 2023 is around $14.94 nationwide. 

On the other hand, plenty of servers across the U.S. have reported earning up to $20 per hour on Glassdoor. 

It’s important to note that these figures represent the base pay before factoring in tips.

  1. The Role of Tips in a Server’s Income

In the US, it is well known that tips play a significant role in a server’s overall income, primarily due to the prevailing practice of tip-based wages.

Unlike in many other countries where service industry workers receive a higher base salary or a service charge is automatically included in the bill, the U.S. relies heavily on customer gratuities to supplement the income of servers.

However, in 2023, a significant number of Americans have begun expressing frustration and tipping less (or not at all!) for everyday services compared to previous years.

The reasons for this include:

  • Generational differences: Namely, Gen Z-ers and Millennials are reported to be the worst tippers.
  • Desire for fairness and social justice: Younger generations believe that the tipping culture has gotten out of control and that businesses should take greater responsibility for adequately compensating their workers.
  • Changes in societal norms: Many Americans believe that tips are not necessary for certain types of transactions, such as ordering drip coffee or picking up takeout orders. 

While it is unfortunate that servers often rely heavily on tips to make a living wage, it is an industry reality. 

Ideally and in the future, restaurants and bars should strive to improve employee compensation, but until then, you as a server can take steps to increase your chances of receiving better tips. 


By providing excellent service, building rapport with customers, and working in establishments known for generous tipping habits.

  1. Factors Influencing Server Earnings
  1. Location

The geographic location of a restaurant can significantly influence a server’s earning potential. 

In areas with a higher cost of living or bustling tourist activity, wages tend to be higher due to increased foot traffic and a greater number of customers. 

For example, servers in popular food chains located in major U.S. cities or busy airports may earn more in tips compared to those working in smaller towns, which is consistent with the findings of platforms like Glassdoor.

  1. Type of Restaurant

The type of restaurant also plays a role in server salaries. 

Establishments catering to a diverse demographic, such as family-friendly restaurants, often thrive in wholesome neighborhoods with young families. 

Such restaurants may offer better earning opportunities for servers than niche venues catering to specific interests or preferences.

  1. Type of Shifts

The timing of shifts can significantly impact a server’s earning potential. 

In other words, busier shifts during peak hours or on weekends typically provide more opportunities for earning higher tips, while working a slow lunch shift during the week may yield less additional income.

  1. Skill Level

The wage of a server usually depends on their skill.

This means that servers who excel in their roles, demonstrate exceptional customer service, and possess refined serving skills are more likely to be scheduled for busy shifts and receive higher tips. 

So, if you want to maximize your earning potential as a server, you should continually work on improving your skills through training, staying up-to-date with industry trends, and providing exceptional service to your customers. 

  1. Regional Variations in Server Salaries

To get a better idea of the average server salaries nationwide, we’ve decided to take a look at how they differ across a few handpicked locations in the United States, based on data sourced from

To find out more about regional variations in server salaries, take a look at the restaurant server salaries by OysterLink.

  1. California

Considering the increase in the minimum wage, the average annual salary for servers in San Diego is now approximately $47,370, with an additional $10-120 in daily tips. 

However, according to recent information that can be found on discussion websites such as Reddit, these earnings can go much higher for servers in upscale restaurants. 

Ultimately, the higher cost of living and popularity of the area contribute to the relatively higher earning potential.

  1. New York City

According to, Servers in New York City earn an average annual salary of around $44,464, accompanied by approximately $150 in daily tips. 

However, even with the city’s vibrant tourism industry and bustling restaurant scene providing ample opportunities for higher earnings, higher costs of living can sometimes make it challenging for servers to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor.

  1. Texas

In Dallas, the average annual salary for servers is $50,116, with an additional $100 in daily tips – and all thanks to the city’s renowned hospitality culture!

In addition to that, the lower cost of living in Dallas plays a significant role in making those earnings more substantial and impactful. 

Specifically, with a lower average cost of housing, transportation, and other expenses compared to cities like New York, servers in Dallas can stretch their earnings further and enjoy a relatively higher quality of life.

  1. Florida

Servers in Miami, Florida earn an average annual salary of $40,056, with additional compensation of around $150 in daily tips. 

While the area attracts vacationers, the fluctuating customer demand throughout the year may impact earning opportunities for servers.


Aspiring servers and waitresses often wonder about the earning potential in this profession. 

While it is difficult to provide an exact figure due to the influence of tips and various factors, we have explored some general averages and considerations in this article. 

Remember that factors like location, type of restaurant, shifts, and skill level can impact your earning potential as a server. 

Moreover, by providing exceptional service, honing your skills, and working in establishments with a high tipping culture, you can increase your chances of earning a fair wage and enjoying the flexibility and demand that come with being a server.

So, if you’re considering a career as a server, embrace the opportunity, sharpen your skills, and deliver memorable dining experiences while enjoying the thrill of making people’s meals special!