Economists looking for signs of economic recovery examine a variety of data to help them paint a picture of the overall health of the economy. Unemployment numbers, GDP and consumer confidence are some of the large-scale reports that they may consider. However, other indicators show not only an improving economy but also welcome news for a certain segment of the working population.
The most recent data available shows that consumers were tipping service workers 4% more from 2010 to 2011. From 2008 to 2009, tips had fallen 5%, in large part due to the economic meltdown. If you are looking for a job in the service industry, jobs that balance tips and an hourly salary may be ideal, but some of the best jobs in that industry come with the highest tips. Here is a countdown of the top eight jobs with the highest tips as studied by PayScale.com. (Median hourly tip amount is included in parentheses.)
Server (Waiter/Waitress) ($7.00)
Servers receive less than minimum wage because employers expect tips to elevate their hourly rate.
With a median hourly base pay rate of $4.20 per hour, servers rely on 63% of their total income to come from tips, tied with a gaming dealer for the highest percentage of any job studied by the PayScale survey.
Casino Shift Manager ($7.50)
Casino shift managers circulate through the casino, supervising workers and patrons as well as resolving customer complaints. They may also be in charge of planning casino events and serving the "high rollers." Although shift managers do not expect to receive regular tips, their tips are often large when they do receive them, as tips account for 30% of their total hourly income. With a median hourly base pay of $17.40/hour, an extra $7.50 definitely helps.
Bar Manager ($7.60)
Who assures that customers receive top-notch service while also making sure that bartenders serve consistent drinks? That would be the bar manager. Tips are a large part of a bar manager's pay, accounting for 40% of their average total hourly rate of $19 per hour.
Banquet Captain ($7.70)
Have you been to a large event where food was served recently?
Did it all go well? If so, thank the banquet captain. The banquet captain plans the event, manages and evaluates staff, and serves as troubleshooter for any problems that arise. The banquet captain receives a percentage of the gratuity that is added onto the total bill, making nearly half of their $16.50 average total hourly income dependent on tips.
Sommeliers are wine experts, and often collect and invest in wine themselves. They often work for high-end restaurants and advise customers on the best pairings of wine and food. They are also experts at serving wine, which is something wine connoisseurs appreciate. Along with their customer duties, sommeliers are often in charge of stocking a restaurant's wine cellar in a way that will make it stand out. An average of 33% of their median total income of $23.50 per hour is based on tips.
Most people have seen butlers on TV and in movies. As house or estate managers, they oversee a staff that includes cooks and groundskeepers.
They may answer phones, announce guests, and perform other tasks as dictated by their employer. Twenty-nine percent of a butler's total median hourly income of $29.30 comes from tips. There are only about 10,000 butlers employed in the United States.
Bartenders receive both a higher hourly wage and higher tips than servers. On average, bartenders make a total of $17.40 per hour versus servers who make $11.20. However, 55% of a bartender's pay is comprised of tips making customer traffic and quality of service vitally important.
Gaming Dealer ($12.40)
With a base pay of only $7.20 per hour, gaming dealers hope their customers win big. The employee running the craps table or dealing your poker hand knows that when you win, so do they, and that is vital to their income. Along with servers, 63% of a dealer's total $19.60/hour income comes from tips.
The Bottom Line
Average tip data still shows that customers aren't tipping as much as they were before the Great Recession, but as the economy recovers, so has a willingness to compensate those in the service industry.
The highest tipping jobs are not easy to land. Most of these jobs require specialized skills or training, but for qualified job seekers, these jobs offer significant reward without a lot of competition.