How Much Does a Waitress Make in Chicago?


Labor statistics information indicates that a waitress job in Chicago generally pays more than food server jobs throughout the rest of Illinois. However, waitresses working in cities farther east are earning significantly higher salaries than Chicago waitresses earn. In any case, waitresses who have top-notch people skills may be able to claim higher-paying positions.

Annual Salaries

Waitresses and other food servers across the U.S. earned a mean annual wage of $20,790 in 2010 based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Waitresses earned higher wages in Chicago, which the bureau includes among cities that have the highest employment levels for food servers. Chicago servers earned a mean annual salary of $22,650 in 2010. Overall, waitresses and other servers throughout Illinois earned a mean annual salary of $21,400 that year, which was slightly less than Chicago servers earned.

Hourly Wages

Chicago waitresses also earned above average hourly wages in 2010. BLS data reveals that the mean hourly wage for food servers that year was $9.99. However, Chicago waitresses and other food servers in the city earned an average hourly wage of $10.89 in 2010. Overall, average hourly wages for food servers in Illinois also exceed pay in neighboring states at $10.29 per hour. For example, servers in Indiana earned about $9.39 per hour in 2010, and Missouri servers earned an average hourly wage of $9.29 that year.

Wage Comparison

Chicago waitress salaries are significantly lower than they are in some other cities. Bureau data show some of the top-paying cities for food servers include Boston, where servers earned a mean annual salary of $30,850 in 2010 and above-average hourly pay of $14.83. Burlington, Vt. is another top-paying city for waitresses and other food servers. Burlington servers earned a mean annual wage of $29,920 in 2010, and their average hourly pay that year was $14.38.


Waitresses in Chicago and other cities may be able to get the best jobs with the highest pay by honing their social skills. In its data on the occupation, the BLS notes that restaurants partly rely on good customer service to retain their customers in the competitive restaurant industry. Therefore, waitresses who provide efficient service and have a natural rapport with restaurant patrons may be highly sought after by top paying employers. The bureau notes that upscale restaurants that have strict food service standards usually pay higher wages and patrons generally give waitresses higher tips. However, upscale restaurants also may have stringent employment and experience requirements.

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