Updated December 24, 2013

Holiday Tipping: Who Else to Tip During the Holidays

10 professions that deserve a special thank you -- and usually don't get one

It’s a time when many people think about giving back by donating to charities, volunteering, or giving extra tips to their hair dresser or postal worker. But other people you encounter every day would greatly benefit from some holiday cheer as well. Often overlooked for tips, these are professionals who may have provided you with spectacular service, and thus deserving of a small bonus from you.

Here are 10 professions to consider adding to your tipping list this holiday season, starting with those who may need it most. We ranked the professions according to average incomes. As you’ll see from this list, if you live in certain states, you may really want to help out your valued service providers this holiday.

1. Food preparers and servers, including fast food

  • Number of workers: 2,943,810
  • Average hourly wage: $9
  • Average annual wage: $18,720
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $16,950 - $17,640 annually): Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia

While the holidays focus on big celebrations centered around food, like office party buffets, many of our December meals will occur at the drive-through. We are just too busy at this time to do much cooking. Plus, who doesn’t want to indulge in a burger and some fries before those New Year’s resolutions kick in? As it is, according to a recent Gallup poll, 8 in 10 Americans eat at fast-food restaurants at least monthly, and nearly half say they eat fast food weekly. Considering this is the lowest-paid profession on our list, see if you can afford to pay your food preparers and servers something extra this season. They make less than half the average annual wage in the U.S., which is $45,790.

2. Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers

  • Number of workers: 106,860
  • Average hourly wage: $9.77
  • Average annual wage: $20,320
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $16,780 - $17,610 annually): Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia

The holidays are a great time to watch ballet (“The Nutcracker,” anyone?), attend a concert, catch a Broadway show, or head to the movies. After all, you can’t spend all your time at home. According to Box Office Mojo, during the 2012 holiday season, 94 movies opened and grossed $2.6 billion, an increase of 23.8 percent from the year before. That’s a lot of tickets to collect. The next time you go to the movies or attend an entertainment event, consider tipping the folks who collect your admissions tickets and assist in helping you find your seat. These are workers you may not normally tip, but if you’ve received good service, why not make a nice gesture for someone who has a small paycheck?

3. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks

  • Number of workers: 229,000
  • Average hourly wage: $10.56
  • Average annual wage: $21,960
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $17,270 - $19,030 annually): Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota, West Virginia

The holidays are a great time to travel and visit your loved ones. But in an age of extended families, not everyone can pile into Mom and Dad’s house a la the Griswolds in Christmas Vacation. In that case, a hotel or motel will have to do (and, for some families, may be the preferred option.) While travelers usually tip a bellhop or housekeeper, they don’t give the same generosity to the desk clerk. For the typical service provided by a desk clerk – like checking in guests, answering questions, and supplying information about the hotel – no tip is required. However, when desk clerks go out of their way to provide information about restaurants or help you track down an item you forgot to pack, consider leaving a tip, between $5 and $10, before you check out.

4. Janitors and cleaners

  • Number of workers: 2,097,380
  • Average hourly wage: $11.95
  • Average annual wage: $24,850
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $17,690 - $21,580 annually): Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah

According to a Consumer Reports survey, housecleaners are the most likely service profession to receive a tip during the holidays, receiving a median of $50. But how about tipping the cleaners at your workplace? Mopping floors, washing walls, and removing rubbish can be strenuous. Consider pooling money from workers in the office and giving it to the janitors who clean up after you and coworkers every day. Show them you appreciate what they do.

5. Bakers

  • Number of workers: 157,230
  • Average hourly wage: $12.05
  • Average annual wage: $25,060
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $17,250 - $22,460 annually): Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia

Whether you prefer pumpkin pie or fruitcake, the holiday season usually means big business for bakeries. And, in turn, all that business keeps the economy humming. According to the American Bakers Association, the baking industry accounts for $311 billion in total economic output, or roughly 2.1 percent of gross domestic product. To express your gratitude for the contribution to your neighborhood, consider leaving a sweet tip the next time your sweet tooth leads you to your local bakery. Bakers often work on the holidays to provide fresh baked goods, and many have little to show for it: The lowest-earning quartile earns as little as $17,250 annually, a small amount for the pleasure baked goods can give you and your family this time of year.

6. Retail salespeople

  • Number of workers: 4,340,000
  • Average hourly wage: $12.17
  • Average annual wage: $25,310
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $18,960 - $24,190 annually): Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia

The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend $602.1 billion this holiday season, an increase of 3.9 percent compared to last year. Amid all the extra strewn clothes, bargain shoppers, and Christmas Muzak, you’ll find thankless workers who keep the stores stocked and operating during the busiest time of the year. They don’t get much for their efforts. While it might seem unusual to tip retail workers, anything goes during a time of giving. So when someone has gone out of their way to help you find the perfect gift, consider giving back in the form of a tip.

7. Security guards

  • Number of workers: 1,046,420
  • Average hourly wage: $13.10
  • Average annual wage: $27,240
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $17,450 - $25,050 annually): Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia

Holiday shopping can be chaotic, frustrating … and sometimes dangerous. Statistics show that retail crime usually increases during and after the holiday season, which is why stores hire extra security during the holidays. If you’ve received extra help from a security guard for locating your lost item or even your kid, consider reaching into your wallet. Also consider the person who has manned your building’s front door all year. Even if all this person has done for you is hold the door open and given you a friendly greeting every workday, anywhere from $20 - $50 is appropriate.

8. Light truck or delivery services drivers

  • Number of workers: 1,046,420
  • Average hourly wage: $16.32
  • Average annual wage: $33,940
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $17,270 - $19,030 annually): Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia

Americans spent $42.3 billion online during the holiday shopping season last year, according to comScore. And Cyber Monday (Nov. 26, 2012) ranked as the heaviest online spending day in history, with $1.465 billion spent. A good chunk of those sales was driven by deals and discounts, including free shipping. Shopping online is convenient, but don’t forget that with each click of your mouse, someone must deliver the newly bought goods. So if you’re a frequent online shopper, consider leaving a tip to your delivery driver. Your act of graciousness might make a lot of difference at a time when drivers are especially busy.

9. Refuse and recyclable material collectors

  • Number of workers: 117,670
  • Average hourly wage: $16.94
  • Average annual wage: $35,230
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $17,360 - $27,030 annually): Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia

According to the website Use Less Stuff, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the holidays than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage. All of the food waste, wrapping paper, and Christmas trees have to be picked up by someone – your garbage collector. Sad to say, a 2012 Consumer Reports survey found that garbage collectors are the least likely service profession to receive a tip during the holidays.

10. Flight attendants

  • Number of workers: 84,960
  • Average annual wage: $42,340
  • Lowest-paying states for this occupation (on average between $33,420 - $36,650 annually): Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Utah

The winter holidays are a time when most people want to be with their families, so they pay steep prices to fly the friendly skies. But airports get crowded, snowstorms cause flight delays, and all of a sudden you’ve got a major travel headache. Consider what it’s like for the flight attendants serving you aboard those flights. A recent poll by discount airfare compiler Airfarewatchdog found that 27 percent of people have tipped their flight attendants as a “thank you” for their service. If you’re flying this holiday season and see a flight attendant doing a great job, consider giving a monetary reward on your way off the plane.

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