If you are a server in Iowa or are considering becoming one, then you should know what the minimum wage is for servers in Iowa to see if you are being paid the correct amount, or whether this is a job you would like to do. The law surrounding the Iowa minimum wage for servers acts as a safety net for those that may not earn enough in tips to meet the minimum wage threshold in the state.

Servers are those who provide and serve their customers with food and beverages in a restaurant or similar type of business where food and drinks are brought to the table, and as part of this service, a server will typically receive tips (gratuities) for doing so. Iowa servers usually rely less on their hourly wage and more on the generosity of guests for their paycheck each week.

Iowa Server Minimum Wage 2022

So, what is the minimum wage for a server in Iowa? The current minimum cash wage for servers in Iowa is the same as the tipped minimum wage in Iowa, which is $4.35 per hour. This is the minimum per hour that an Iowa server must be paid and that an Iowa employer must pay its servers. The following graphic shows the Iowa server minimum wage over the past several years and it has not increased in a while.

Iowa server minimum wage

Server Minimum Wage in Iowa (Minimum Cash Wage and Tip Credits)

$4.35 per hour may sound like a small amount to be paid an hour, but Iowa servers are required to be supplemented by their employers via “tipped credit”, which is, in Iowa’s case is $2.90 per hour, making the server minimum wage in Iowa a total of $7.25 per hour. The regular minimum wage in Iowa for all types of employees in Iowa follows the federal minimum wage guidelines, and it has been unchanged since 2008.

Per the tipped minimum wage laws that apply to all states, Iowa employers are required to pay their employees an hourly minimum cash wage with the addition of tip credits. What tipped credits allow employers to do is pay tipped employees less than the minimum wage so long as they can make up the difference via tips per hour.

Tip credit not only allows server employees to be paid less than the minimum hourly wage, but it is also the same concept with bartenders, hotel workers, airport attendants, and pretty much any job role where tips are the primary income for the employee.

In Iowa, servers must be paid a base minimum cash wage of $4.35 per hour. The expectation is that Iowa servers will make at least an additional $2.90 per hour in tips on average across their pay period, and if they do, then the employer is only obligated to pay an Iowa server $4.35 per hour.

Let’s assume that a server does not make at least $2.90 per hour in tips as an average over the course of their pay period (usually two weeks), then the employer must step in and pay the Iowa server a tip credit of $2.90 per hour, so the server makes a minimum of $7.25 per hour for the duration of the pay period they they worked.

Average Server Salary in Iowa (2022)

If you are a server or are looking to work as a server in a restaurant or similar service-related business in Iowa, knowing the hourly wage for servers is important, but knowing what you can expect to earn is even more important. Most Iowa servers are not going to take a position at a restaurant with the view that they can only earn $7.25 per hour, because based on working 35-40 hours a week, they would only earn about $254-$290 per week.

What are servers paid in Iowa?

The average server hourly wage in Iowa (according to the job website Indeed.com) is $13.80 per hour. So, if you were to work an 8 hour shift or a total of 8 hours in a day across a couple of shifts, you could earn (on average) about $110 per day (8 hrs x $13.80). If you worked five days per week then you could potentially earn about $550 per week.

If you took just two weeks off a year and worked for 50 weeks you could earn $27,500. If you decided to take 3 weeks off per year, then you could earn 49 x $550 = $26,950 for the year. This, of course, is before Iowa income tax has been deducted.

The above calculations are just averages to give you an idea of what you can earn as an Iowa server. The most important aspects of how much you can earn will depend on how good you are at your job and what type of food/beverage establishment you work at. Also many people that work at restaurants or similar establishments are willing to work more than 40-hours per week so they qualify for overtime pay.

If the average food item on the menu is $8-$12 and the restaurant mainly serves wings, burgers, subs, nachos, fries, and similar snack-style food, then the average check for each guest or table will be much less, and therefore, the percentage tip against the total check will result in you earning less per table you serve and you’ll have to serve many tables during your shift.

On the other hand, if you work at a finer dining restaurant or one that is really busy and serves steak, seafood, and other higher-priced menu and beverage items, then you stand to earn more money as the total check for each table you serve will be that much higher and the percentage tip you receive on a higher check will be that much more.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the most important takeaway from this is that, as an Iowa employer, it is your responsibility to pay your servers a minimum hourly rate + tip credit that equals or surpasses the Iowa minimum wage in the event that your servers do not earn enough to meet the $7.25 per hour threshold. Failing to do so will be breaking federal and state laws. Equally, it is important that as a server working in Iowa, you know your rights and how much you should be paid with your hourly wage and tip credits.

If you have specific questions about the laws surrounding the minimum wage for servers (tipped employees) from both an employer and employee perspective, you can contact the Iowa Division of Labor. Additionally, if you are an employee who isn’t being paid what you legally should be, you can file a complaint with them too.