By Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Appropriate salary scales for retail dietitians is often discussed among colleagues, with human resource departments, and leaders of retail companies who are focused on the bottom line. With the recent release of the 2019 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Compensation and Benefits Survey, key information is shared that can be useful to retail RDNs in managing their own compensation packages. The trick is to use the right information in these discussions, whether evaluating comp for entire retail RDN teams or for yourself as an individual.
In reviewing survey results, key demographics are of note. As is commonly understood, 95% of practitioners are female. The median age of practitioners in this survey is 41; 21% are 55 or older, while 32% are under 35. Over half of RDNs hold a graduate degree and 23% hold one of the thirteen specialty certifications. In the survey, the typical RDN has twelve years of work experience. Three work settings employ half of all RDNs: inpatient acute-care facilities (22%), outpatient facilities (20%), and long-term care settings (9%). The vast majority of RDNs, 77%, have no budget responsibilities in their role.
As of April 2019, the median annual salary for a dietitian was $68,600. Because some human resource departments use the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for salary comparisons, it’s important to consider this data as well. The most recent BLS data is for 2018 and estimates the average salary for dietitians and nutritionists as $61,210. It’s important to note that this data is not restricted to registered dietitians but includes a broader categorization of nutritionists. As the graph here shows, however, there are significant differences between the median salaries of RDNs working in different roles. It’s essential to consider the primary roles of the retail RDN when determining the appropriate comparison. If the role is primarily focused in MNT and clinical consults in the retail setting, the outpatient comparison is likely appropriate. However, if the retail RD role is focused on promotion of product, as a spokesperson, partnerships with store departments and/or buyers and merchants, the more appropriate comparison is like the consultation and business category.
The survey shows that those with more years’ experience, advanced decrees, and supervisory experience also have higher wagers. There are also differences by geography, with RDNs in the Pacific, New England, and Middle Atlantic states having higher median salaries.
The results of this most recent Academy compensation survey are helpful; it’s also important to look at internal data ensuring retail RDN positions are compensated fairly to other positions with similar responsibilities. The full report is available here.