This side hustle may not be unique—but I am circling back around to it because it keeps popping up. As I do more and more research about how to make extra money in this day and age, this age-old side-hustle continues to hold a place in pretty much every top 10 list I come across!
Can you really make extra money as a waiter or a waitress?
Let’s do some serious talking about it!
Making Extra Money As A Waiter Or A Waitress
Okay, first things first. What exactly does a waiter/waitress do?
A waiter (a guy) or a waitress (a lady) is someone who waits tables and greets customers at a bar, club, or restaurant. This person may act as a host, make drinks, bring drinks to tables, take orders, answer customer questions, serve as the communicator between the customers and the chef or bartender, etc.
This person also probably needs to perform other duties… such as cleaning up, closing up, handling money/credit cards, completing customer transactions, etc.
A lot of people see waitressing as a lowly job to be escaped… and when it comes to side-hustles, it does not necessarily fit all of our criteria. Waitressing is not really a ‘flexible’ job, because most businesses will schedule you for regular hours where you are expected to show up.
But, with that being said, being a waitress can still be profitable and consistent. Plus, there are some advantages to it that a lot of other side hustles may lack. There are even some people who earn a quality living as a waiter or waitress in larger, more prestigious establishments.
But what about as a side-hustle? Let's talk about it!
The Main Advantages And Disadvantages To Being A Waiter Or Waitress As A Side Hustle
Waitressing offers a few different advantages over traditional side-hustles… and some of these advantages may actually make it a better prospect for some people than a lot of the other side hustles we talk about on this site.
Yes, you trade in some flexibility when you go to work for someone else, but you also gain the following…
- Fast access to extra money (you will start making tips right away, and will likely get a paycheck within 2 weeks of starting work)
- Small learning curve. You don’t have to learn to build your own business or get your own side-hustle off the ground. It is simply a second job, and a pretty easy one once you get used to it.
- Waitressing can be a good choice for students, who do not want a traditional full-time job.
- You are usually capped at a lower hourly wage, but tips can more than make up for this if you work in the right place
- Waitress jobs are usually easy to find in a larger city, due to there being a high demand for this kind of work in bars, clubs, and restaurants
As you can see, there are a few notable advantages to earning extra money as a waitress. But what about the downsides?
- It isn’t flexible, as you have to show up at certain times
- It is a second job—so it will take up even more of your already precious time
- You won’t earn a lot by the hour
- Waitressing jobs are high-paced and known to be a bit stressful
- It can sometimes be difficult to get into the really good bars and clubs where you can expect better tips
- Some bosses and owners will try to take advantage of you and squeeze as much ‘free time’ out of you as possible
- You will likely not get any benefits as a waitress. No insurance, no vacation, no sick days, etc.
But… there are some strategies that you can employ to try to actually make decent ends with this side-hustle idea.
How To Maximize Your Earnings As A Waitress
If you are thinking about trying to make extra money as a waitress, then here are some tips to help you get in on a gig that will actually benefit you.
First of all, put some work into a resume. A professional resume could help you to get noticed at better, higher quality establishments.
Next, be strategic about where you are going to apply. The biggest thing to remember about waitressing jobs is that they are available everywhere!
Even the larger, more lucrative establishments regularly hire people… so think about both the quality of the clients and the geographic location when you start turning in resumes.
Try to find places that are close enough to your home to cut down on drastic travel time, while also focusing on the locations that will serve higher-end clientele. You want to work at the bars and clubs where rich people are hanging out, as this will get you better tips!
Turn in applications to these places first, and continue re-applying every three months or so if you don’t get a call-back.
When you do get a job, apply yourself and work hard. Show up to your shifts, and be extra polite to customers. Try to be funny, talkative, and engaging.
You can earn much better tips if you connect well with the patrons and clients (this is true for other service roles too, such as being a bartender). In some cases, you can even do a bit of flirting/friendship building to try to earn bigger tips from high-rolling clients!
Unless you just have no other options, you might want to avoid waitressing at extremely low-end establishments. As I said earlier, Uber gives you better payouts… and also allows you to control your own schedule.
Focus on your tips. Tips are your bread and butter as a waiter. If you are not earning enough in tips to beat minimum wage, you may legitimately be wasting your time.
When you do make good tips, make sure to put them away and not just leave them to burn a hole in your pocket.
A lot of great waitresses who make great tips end up feeling like they have more money than they actually have after a good shift because they think that the great tips will keep coming—but that is not always the case.
So make sure to put your tips away, because your paycheck may not actually be enough to even make a dent in your bills.
You can also try to move up as a waitress. Even if you don’t have training as a grill cook or a bartender, moving up to these positions is often possible.
And, they usually come with more money and better tips as well! So keep learning, ask questions, and become an essential part of the establishment.
Remember that doing your best makes you worth a lot more… but also remember to work for an establishment where there is actually money to be made! If this is a side-hustle in addition to a regular job, you don’t need to waste your time with a little ‘podunk’ bar that never attracts tipping patrons!
How Much Can You Make As A Waiter Or Waitress?
The national average for waitresses is $11 an hour. But… that does not necessarily take tips into account.
I have personally known people who have made $100 or more in one night at the right bar or club. But… I also know people who have waitressed for $20 for an entire night due to no tips and terrible hourly wages!
You CAN make money as a waiter or waitress, but you have to be proactive and you have to focus on your tips. If you are just showing up and not putting effort into interacting with the patrons, then you are likely not going to make enough to even make this side-hustle worth your time.
My Personal Feelings About Waitressing As A Side Hustle
Personally, I like the idea of waitressing as a side hustle if you have the time and the opportunity.
Of course, this side hustle idea is really just a second job—but if you can treat it like a hustle, work hard for your tips, and be ready to dip when something better comes along, it can actually really help you to earn some extra cash.
The worst thing about this idea is probably the lack of flexibility. It would also tend to take up more time than selling things on Craigslist or driving for Uber.
But… it is also a pretty easy side hustle in the sense that you don’t have to think and plan about everything. You can just show up, put effort into making tips, and let a manager worry about the rest… and that has value in itself if you don’t fancy yourself an ‘entrepreneur.’
So yeah. This one has some potential. It is really, really rough to try to live full-time as a waitress or a waiter, unless you are lucky enough to have a great spot at a great establishment.
I would find it more likely that waitresses or waiters would be looking for side hustles to add to their bank accounts—but you never know. For someone in a day job who is trying to save up some money, this can be a great night-time hustle to help you bring in some more cash!
Our Final Opinion Of Becoming A Waitress Or Waiter
Should you try this side hustle out to earn some extra money on the nights and weekends?
There are a lot of ways to make money online. Some are good, some not, but ALL of them are still just trading hours for dollars.
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