From servers to the head cook, here's how much everyone makes in a restaurant

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  • The Bureau of Labour Statistics provides data on wages and employment in the restaurant industry.
  • Many restaurant jobs tend to be low-paying, but top management positions pay above the national median wage.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The restaurant industry is one of the biggest employers in the US, but many of the biggest jobs in the industry are fairly low wage.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program offers data on employment and wages across different occupations and industries.

According to that report, there were about 10.7 million Americans employed in the restaurant industry in May 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.

Restaurant jobs tend to be lower-paying than average. The median annual wage for an employee in the restaurant industry was just $US22,590, well below the overall median wage of $US38,640.

Here are all the occupations for which at least 2% of restaurant-industry establishments reported having employees, ranked from lowest to highest wage, along with their median annual pay and the number of people in that occupation:


22. Delivery drivers earn a median of $US20,530 a year, and there are 203,160 employed in the restaurant industry.


21. Combined food-preparation and serving workers earn a median of $US20,720 a year, and there are 2,991,520 employed in the restaurant industry.


20. Cashiers earn a median of $US21,320 a year, and there are 337,030 employed in the restaurant industry.


19. Servers earn a median of $US21,570 a year, and there are 2,102,220 employed in the restaurant industry.


18. Counter attendants earn a median of $US21,780 a year, and there are 252,950 employed in the restaurant industry.

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17. Hosts and hostesses earn a median of $US21,950 a year, and there are 367,800 employed in the restaurant industry.


16. Dining-room/cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers earn a median of $US22,120 a year, and there are 298,300 employed in the restaurant industry.


15. Fast-food cooks earn a median of $US22,300 a year, and there are 469,500 employed in the restaurant industry.

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14. Dishwashers make a median of $US22,520 a year, and there are 375,940 employed in the restaurant industry.

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13. Food-preparation workers earn a median of $US23,040 a year, and there are 406,350 employed in the restaurant industry.

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12. Bartenders earn a median of $US23,340 a year, and there are 291,350 employed in the restaurant industry.

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11. Short-order cooks earn a median of $US23,390 a year, and there are 99,050 employed in the restaurant industry.


10. Janitors and cleaners earn a median of $US24,330 a year, and there are 31,220 employed in the restaurant industry.


9. Bakers earn a median of $US25,600 a year, and there are 37,550 employed in the restaurant industry.

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8. Cooks make a median of $US26,230 a year, and there are 1,137,590 employed in the restaurant industry.


7. Maintenance and repair workers make a median of $US28,360 a year, and there are 14,920 employed in the restaurant industry.


6. Office clerks make a median of $US28,810 a year, and there are 21,140 employed in the restaurant industry.

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5. First-line supervisors of food prep and serving workers earn a median of $US30,980 a year, and there are 721,170 employed in the restaurant industry.

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4. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earn a median of $US35,600 a year, and there are 18,930 employed in the restaurant industry.


3. Chefs and head cooks earn a median of $US45,070 a year, and there are 69,680 employed in the restaurant industry.


2. Food-service managers make a median of $US51,430 a year, and there are 158,590 employed in the restaurant industry.


1. General and operations managers earn a median of $US59,670 a year, and there are 70,310 employed in the restaurant industry.

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