Here’s How to Make More Money at a Tip-Based Job

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Waiting tables are among the most popular tip-based jobs, but there’s plenty of other work.

For whatever reason, you’ve decided to work a tip-based job. Perhaps you need a side hustle while attending college or enjoy dealing with people. Whatever the reason, tip-based jobs have one thing in common: your pay depends on your efforts. Here are five of the most popular tip-based jobs, including how much you can expect to make an hour* (base wage + tips) and what you can do to earn better tips. *The hourly rate data is based on PayScale’s 2012-2013 Tipping Study.
Waiter/Waitress – $12

Making good money waiting tables is all about respecting your customers.

Waiting tables is pretty much like running a business. How much money you make depends on how well you do your job (regardless of getting the odd never-pleased-with-anything customer), and you get to meet plenty of people daily. The money is good, too, at least in the U.S. where tipping is the norm. However, there are countries where tipping is not a practice, and even some places where tipping your waiter is disrespectful. According to PayScale, the median hourly income of a U.S. waitress is $12.

Getting tipped doesn’t involve much: be polite and don’t drop the tray on your customer’s lap. Joking aside, serving tables is a demanding job. To do it well, you’d need nerves of steel, decent motor coordination and be able to attentively address your customer’s needs. Ruth Mayhew, a Sociology graduate who’s “been waiting since the mid-1980s” wrote an article for on “How to Be a Good Restaurant Waitress.” There Mayhew makes the distinction between serving and doing it well. Things such as respectfully greeting your customers, “handling mistakes gracefully” and being attentive to their needs goes a long way when it comes to providing service that would earn you a generous tip and possibly repeat customers.
Bartender – $16

To become good at bartending, your best bet is to work your way up from a barback.

If you are new to the bartending game, chances are you’ll start at a bar where people order classic cocktails or drinks “on the rocks.” And if you do, you’ll have to get the hang of it before you can get more creative with your mixology. On the upside, bartending is a lucrative tip-based job that can earn you some decent money. You can expect to make $16, which is the median hourly income of a bartender across the U.S., according to PayScale. Getting to that money, though, would call for you to at least cover the basics of bartending, such as knowing the difference between single malt and Kentucky bourbon or between a “dry,” “extra-dry” and “wet” martini.

Experienced bartenders advise aspiring ones to start as barbacks. Thrillist ran a piece where they interviewed bartenders from the House of Walker®. Here’s what one said about being a barback: “You learn speed, bar flow, product knowledge and precision from being a barback. Let the things you learn at the bottom be the foundation for making it to the top.” It’s probably the best tip you can get on how to become a better bartender.

Taxi Driver – $17.80

If you want to make good money as a cab driver, stay informed about what’s happening in your city.

Becoming a taxi driver is probably the job on this list that comes with the highest degree of responsibility. When driving people, you are responsible for tens if not hundreds of lives every second — not only yours and your client’s but also the lives of every person on the road in your immediate area. But if you are up to the task, you can expect to make a median income of $17.80 an hour, according to PayScale.

=While everybody nowadays has a GPS, you’ll deliver a much better service if you count on the map in your head. London black-cab drivers aren’t allowed to use a GPS, so to get their license, they need to memorize 25,000 streets, along with 20,000 landmarks. That’s not to suggest that you need to do the same, but it will behoove you to stay in the know regarding ways around your city. Plus, aside from the benefit of driving your customers to their destination faster, science proved that memorizing streets benefits your brain.
Game Dealer – $18.70

Being a card dealer is about more than dealing cards: you must pay attention to everything that’s happening at the table.

Being a casino dealer can be an exciting job that pays good money as PayScale’s study says that the median income of a casino dealer in the U.S. is $18.70. But before heading off to Vegas, you should know that like any job on this list, this one also comes with its intricacies. Croupiers do much more than dealing cards and knowing the ins and outs of the trade is what will help you climb the “pay ladder.”

If you are after the big tips, then you need to go for the big players — your goal should be dealing at high-roller games, such as poker, blackjack and roulette. Perhaps the most intricate of them is poker — there are lots of things to pay attention. To learn how to do it well, put into practice the best tips to become a poker dealer. Note that being a cards dealer means that you need to be more attentive and concentrated than the players themselves. It’s one thing for a player to lose money due to not playing their cards right, but it’s a whole different thing if they lost money because the dealer made a mistake.

DJ – $26.30

Being a DJ can be lots of fun, but you need to put the audience first.

Working as DJ is one of the best-paid tips-based jobs that doesn’t require specialized training. Six years ago, the median hourly income of a DJ was $26.30, according to PayScale’s report. It’s a decent salary, but here, too, you’ll need to put in some work if you want to make top money.

To be good at this job, you need to be something of a market researcher. You need to stay on top of music trends, the best equipment and software as well as what top DJs are doing to entertain their audience better. Apart from that, you also need to pay attention to your audience and adapt to its mood. Teo Tormo over at opens his guide on how to read the dance floor by stating that this is “one skill more important than any other.” Then he points out common mistakes that new DJs make like keeping their eyes fixed on the turntable. He also advises on how to accept or deny requests respectfully. The last one is among those skills that are most likely to earn you or lose you a decent tip.

When choosing a tip-based job, keep in mind that you’ll be the face of the company. So, if you do a poor job, you’ll get poor tips and probably get fired, too. If you still haven’t decided on what to pick, research these positions thoroughly and consider which one is something that you’ll enjoy doing.

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