Is Your Salary in the Range?
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
A frequent series of questions RDBA receives from members is related to salary, with interest in understanding if an individual’s salary is competitive, common benefits as a part of total comp, and how to direct HR departments to the right resources for benchmarking. This article provides helpful resources and guides you through this area.
Common sources often reviewed to build RD salaries include the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Compensation and Benefits Survey. With the Academy survey, it’s essential to dig into the details to find the right comparison for retail dietitians. For example, the median annual salary for all RDs in the 2021 survey was $70,000. However, those work in the category of “consultation, business and industry, entrepreneur,” a more logical comparison for retail RDs, had a median annual salary of $81,993 and those in “management or executive leadership” a median annual salary of $89,523. The Bureau of Labor statistics (2020) shows $64,150 as the median annual pay, lower due to the fact that they have a lose definition of “dietitian and nutritionist” for this category.
The Institute of Food Technologist 2019 Salary Survey includes nutritionists who work in the food industry in addition to food scientists. The median comp (salary plus bonus) for a nutritionist in this survey is $95,000. A key point in the data from this survey is that women’s average salaries were just 73.5 percent of men’s and were lower than men’s across all age groups.
Kinsa Group, executive recruiters in the food and beverage industry, conduct an annual salary survey, and in their 2022 report found the following median annual salaries by position:
- Marketing Manager: $120,000
- Marketing Director: $150,000
- Regulatory Manager: $100,000
- Nutrition Scientist: $110,000
- Category Manager: $120,000
- Grocery Store Manager: $85,000
- Department/Category Manager: $90,000
While these are important sources of data for industry benchmarking, internal comparisons are also key to ensuring you have a salary consistent with your roles and responsibilities. When having discussions with your manager or HR department, have a clearly defined list of your responsibilities, including the their level. Doing media segments, for example, is acting as a media spokesperson, representing your company publicly. Worded correctly, the level of this role is more accurately defined. While specific responsibilities of the retail RD may be different than other retail functions, the goal is to align the level of your responsibilities with others in the organization.
Job title also comes into play here, with retailers often using terms like specialist, manager, director, and Vice President. While you may personally feel passionate about having “dietitian” in your title, this ads complexity when HR is trying to find the right pay scale for you within the company. Considering a title that aligns with your company structure can potentially benefit you in salary discussions.
Other factors to consider about salary include:
- Geographic location. A higher cost of living in the Pacific and New England areas tend to drive salaries up while the East South Central and West North Central regions of the country have slightly lower salaries.
- Bonuses. RDs moving from clinical to retail roles often aren’t aware that the retail industry includes a bonus structure across many positions. If negotiating a job offer or in an annual review of your salary, seek to understand the bonus structure at your company, including the level of position where bonuses begin. Don’t hesitate to ask for a bonus structure, given RDs have a direct impact on company sales.
- Conference budget. Because RDs are required to maintain their credentials by securing continuing education credits, it’s completely appropriate for budget to be allocated annually for you to attend conferences or participate in CPEU products that cost a fee.