In the United States, the federal minimum wage for waiters and other tipped employees is $2.13. With tips, a waiter's hourly wage must reach at least $7.25. In busy, upscale restaurants, an experienced waiter can make $30 an hour or more.
In most cases, tips from customers account for most of a waiter's wages. If a waiter's base pay plus tips do not average out to $7.25 per hour or more, their employer is legally obligated to cover the difference between the waiter's total wage and the hourly minimum wage. Some states, including Alaska, California and Nevada, have state laws to ensure that tipped employees have the same minimum wage as non-tipped employees.