Waiters work in the food and beverage service industry. They take orders for food and drink from customers, either at table or from behind a counter, then convey the completed order to the customer. The waiter also takes payment for the victuals, either immediately or just before the customer departs the establishment. Waiters usually work as part of a team, liaise closely with kitchen staff, and need a friendly, customer-focused manner. A waiter's pay is likely to vary according to where and for whom he works.
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysed wage levels for waiters in conjunction with those for their female counterparts, waitresses, for its May 2010 national employment survey. Having collated pay information from 2,244,480 individual waiters and waitresses working throughout the country, it concluded that the average hourly pay for the occupation was £6.40, equivalent to an annual salary of £13,513. This corresponds roughly to the upper end of the pay range which put waiter hourly rates at between £1.80 and £5.90. Waiter pay levels are likely to be augmented by tips and overtime.
Pay by Industry
By far the largest numbers of waiters, according to the bureau's analysis, work within full-service restaurants. The average hourly rate in this sector was reported at £6.40, higher than that for limited-service restaurants -- £5.80 -- but lower than pay levels in traveller accommodation -- £7.50. The average rate for waiter positions in places that serve alcoholic beverages was £6.0, in special food services -- such as catering for events -- it was £7.20, while individuals working within the gambling industries earned an average of £6.60 per hour.
Pay by Geography
A second factor that bears on the pay levels of waiters is location. The bureau lists the District of Columbia as the most lucrative across all industry sectors, with an average of £9.30. It is followed by Vermont at £8.80 and Massachusetts at £8.80. Montana had an average of £5.80 and North Dakota £5.50. The Boston, Cambridge, Quincy area of Massachusetts was given as the metropolitan district with the highest average pay -- £9.60 -- while the Panama City, Lynn Haven district of Florida was listed at £5.40.
As the American population continues to expand, demand for food and beverage services will correspondingly increase. This will have the knock-on effect of increasing employment opportunities for waiters and waitresses by around 10 per cent through 2018, according to the BLS. This is in the middle of the range predicted for the country as a whole, expected to be between 7 and 13 per cent over the same time. It should mean that wage levels for the occupation remain competitive, particularly as the industry traditionally experiences a high turnover of staff.
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