Here's how much fast-food workers at 17 popular chains say they make

  • While most United States fast-food employees make well above the national minimum wage, hourly pay varies depending on the chain.
  • Additional factors for pay variation include franchises in states with higher minimum wage laws and higher compensation for manager positions.
  • We used self-reported salary information from both Payscale and Glassdoor to take a closer look at what fast-food workers make across the United States, from California’s In-and-Out to Culver’s in the Midwest.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

While dollar menu items are often similar across franchises, equal hourly wages for fast-food workers are not a uniform requirement.

Some fast-food chains are infamous for paying more than others, such as California-based In-and-Out Burger mandating its employees make a whopping $US13 an hour. In every chain, assistant manager and manager positions often make more than cashiers or line cooks, but hourly pay also fluctuates depending on state minimum wage laws.

Read more: Here’s what fast food workers earn in every state

Previous reporting from Business Insider’s Kate Taylor in 2016 confirmed that many fast-food chains increased wages, despite the national standard staying the same since 2009. Still $US7.25 an hour, almost all fast-food workers earn more than the national minimum wage. Business Insider’s Morris Pearl reported how increasing wages is the best way to find more fast-food employees, a tactic other companies such as Disney and Target have used with success.

We took a look at self-reported salaries on both Payscale and Glassdoor and ordered restaurants from highest to lowest hourly pay. For some chains, we only found data from one source.

Keep reading for a look at salaries at 17 popular fast-food chains in the United States.


Employees at McDonald’s say they earn around $US8 to $US9 an hour.

Abigail AbesamisA McDonald’s restaurant.

The McDonald brothers started their original hamburger restaurant in California in 1948 and soon expanded their business to nine franchise locations. Today, McDonald’s is the second most popular fast-food chain in the US with approximately 14,000 locations around the country – and a total of 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries around the world.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9McDonald’s employees who reported to Glassdoor: 23

PayScale average hourly rate: $US8.27McDonald’s employees who reported to PayScale:52


Wendy’s employees say they earn hourly wages of $US8 to $US9.

An Ohio-founded chain known for its Frosty shakes and “4 for $US4” special, the first Wendy’s opened in 1969. Today, the chain has franchise locations in all 50 states.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Wendy’s employees who reported to Glassdoor:8

PayScale average hourly rate:$US8.21Wendy’s employees who reported to PayScale:49


Taco Bell employes say they earn $US9 to $US10 an hour.

Glen Bell opened the first Taco Bell restaurant in 1962; within five years he had opened 100 franchises. In 2015, the company moved the original restaurant from its foundation in Downey, California to the company headquarters in Irvine to avoid the building’s demolition.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US10Taco Bell employees who reported to Glassdoor:5

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.26Taco Bell employees who reported to PayScale:31


Burger King employees say they make around $US8 to $US9 per hour.

Burger King remains the third largest fast-food chain in America, behind McDonald’s and Subway. The restaurant accounts for 5.7% of fast-food chains in the country.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Burger King employees who reported to Glassdoor: 20

PayScale average hourly rate:$US8.76Burger King employees who reported to PayScale: 25


Arby’s employees reported hourly wages around $US9.

Arby’sInside an Arby’s restaurant.

Founded in 1964 as a sandwich alternative to rapidly-expanding hamburger restaurants such as McDonald’s and Burger King, Arby’s is owned by the same parent company as Sonic.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Arby’s employees who reported to Glassdoor:17

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.56Arby’s employees who reported to PayScale:17


Whataburger employees reported pay anywhere between $US8 – $US12 an hour.

Founded by Harmon Dobson in 1950, the Texas-based hamburger chain remains a family-run business to this day. Dobson’s three children currently oversee over 800 restaurants across 10 states. In 2017, the regional chain earned the title of the most popular “better burger” chain in the US.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US8 to $US12Whataburger employees who reported to Glassdoor: 2

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.77Whataburger employees who reported to PayScale: 14


Culver’s employees say they make between $US9 and $US11 an hour.

Lydia Ramsey/Business InsiderA Midwest Culver’s restaurant.

While the majority of franchises are located in the Midwest, Culver’s operations exist in all other American regions with the exception of the Northeast and the west coast states. Known for its Concrete Mixer dessert, the Culver family opened the first eponymous restaurant inSauk City, Wisconsin in 1984.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Culver’s employees who reported to Glassdoor:3

PayScale average hourly rate:$US10.59Culver’s employees who reported to PayScale:13


Dairy Queen employees say they earn around $US9 an hour.

Flickr/Mike MozartOutside a Dairy Queen.

The first Dairy Queen opened in Joliet, Illinois in 1940. Known for its Blizzard dessert, the company employs workers in 4,500 United States stores.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Dairy Queen employees who reported to Glassdoor: 8

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.61Dairy Queen employees who reported to PayScale: 9


Chipotle employees reported hourly pay between $US9 and $US11.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderOutside a Chipotle.

Founded in 1993 in Colorado, there are now over 2,500 Chiptotle locations. The majority of franchises are located in the United States.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9 – $US10Chipotle employees who reported to Glassdoor:2

PayScale average hourly rate:$US10.57Chipotle employees who reported to PayScale:7


KFC team members say they make around $US9 an hour.

Founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1930, Kentucky-based KFC is owned by Yum Brands. The company also owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9KFC employees who reported to Glassdoor:132

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.08KFC employees who reported to PayScale:6


Subway employees’ reported salaries included hourly wages between $US8 and $US9.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesA Subway restaurant.

Business Insider’s Kate Taylor previously reported that Subway is the biggest fast-food chain in America. The sandwich shops across the country account for 18.5% of all US fast-food chains. Subway is followed by McDonald’s and Burger King, which account for 11.3% and 5.7% respectively.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Subway employees who reported to Glassdoor: 1,390

PayScale average hourly rate:$US8.01Subway employees who reported to PayScale:71


Chick-fil-A reported hourly wages of $US8 to $US9.

Founded in 1964 and still run by the Cathy family today, Chick-fil-A was named Business Insider’s chain of the year in 2018.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Chick-fil-A employees who reported to Glassdoor: 976

PayScale average hourly rate:$US8.38Chick-fil-A employees who reported to PayScale: 33


Dunkin’ crew members say they make around $US9 an hour.

Abigail AbesamisA Dunkin’ store.

In September, the chain announced it would be dropping “Doughnuts” from its name as a part of its effort to rebrand. Dunkin’ also announced plans to double its current number of stores by adding 9,000 new branches to better compete with Starbucks.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9Dunkin’ Doughnuts employees who reported to Glassdoor: 535

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.65Dunkin’ Doughnuts employees who reported to PayScale: 14


Sonic employees say they make around $US8 to $US9.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderA Sonic sign.

Founded in 1959, “America’s Drive-In” capitalised on the country’s golden age of automobiles. Today, there are 3,614 restaurant locations in the United States. Despite the chain only accounting for 2.7% of American fast-food chains, Sonic is the largest chain of drive-in restaurants in the country.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US8Sonic employees who reported to Glassdoor:3

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.10Sonic employees who reported to PayScale:N/A


In-N-Out employe earn hourly wages of $US13 to $US14 an hour.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderThe front of a California In-N-Out burger stop.

The first In-N-Out restaurant opened in 1948 and began serving its infamous “Animal Style” burger about ten years later. A California-based chain, the company has expanded to other western states in recent years. Today, over 300 In-N-Out franchises can be found in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Utah.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US13In-N-Out employees who reported to Glassdoor:3

PayScale average hourly rate: $US14In-N-Out employees who reported to PayScale: N/A


Jack in the Box employees reported hourly pay between $US8 and $US10 an hour.

David McNew/GettyA Jack in the Box location.

Originally founded in 1951 in San Diego, Jack in the Box now employs workers in over 2,200 locations across 21 states.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US8Jack in the Box employees who reported to Glassdoor: 3

PayScale average hourly rate:$US9.66Jack in the Box employees who reported to PayScale: N/A


White Castle employees say they earn anywhere from $US9 to $US12 an hour.

Hollis JohnsonA White Castle drive-through.

The country’s oldest fast-food chain, the first White Castle restaurant opened in 1921. Nearly a century-old brand, there are around375 restaurants in 13 states today. The chain made headlines last year when it became the first fast-food chain to introduce the Impossible Foods veggie burger to its menu.

Glassdoor average base pay: $US9 – $US10White Castle employees who reported to Glassdoor: 2

PayScale average hourly rate: $US11.61White Castle employees who reported to PayScale: N/A

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