Salary Management: Getting What You Deserve

Salary Management: Getting What You Deserve

January 15, 2014

Annette Maggi, MS, RD, LD, FAND
RDBA Executive Director

In talking with dietitian colleagues within the retail industry, it’s clear that salary management is a key concern for those transitioning into retail from clinical or getting hired by a small retailer in regional markets as well as those with extensive experience in the industry who are hitting salary ceilings.  While it may feel uncomfortable at first, negotiating salary is a skill all retail RDs must master to ensure they’re being compensated fairly within the retail sector.

The primary comparison for retail RD salaries has to be comparable roles within the industry not traditional dietitian roles.  Your jobs are demanding, requiring a multitude of skills.  Retail dietitians are the face of the retailer’s health and wellness brand.  You interact with the media.  You build partnerships within the community and with vendors. You increase sales and customer loyalty.  You should be compensated accordingly.

To ensure you’re being compensated appropriately consider the following tips:

  • If you’re interviewing for a retail RD job, do research to understand the salaries of other similar positions at the company. It’s like you won’t find many health professional positions in a retail setting, so compare the responsibilities of the positions.  Look for responsibilities such as managing people or committees, developing programs, writing content for websites, and acting as a media spokesperson for the company.   Consider published salary ranges of category managers or merchandising directors at retailers in your geographic area. 
  • If you’re trying to justify a salary bump in your current role (outside the standard merit raise process), this same research is essential.  Work with your human resources (HR) department to compare your job description to others at the salary you believe is appropriate for your role.  When establishing salaries and levels of positions, HR departments often use salary survey data.  Unfortunately, they often compare your retail role to a clinical role when using these surveys.  You may need to coach your HR department on equivalent positions to use for benchmarking in these salary surveys. 
  • Many positions in retail include a bonus structure.  Understanding bonus percentages that are appropriate for the level of the role you are considering as well as the metrics they are based on positions you to be most effective in negotiating the salary you deserve in this role.  Most RD roles have the ability to positively impact sales and the company’s bottom line, and for this reason, a bonus structure is completely appropriate as compensation in addition to salary.
  • If you’ve hit a salary ceiling in your current role, seek clear direction from your supervisor on goals you need to achieve in order to be promoted to a higher level and where opportunities exist for you to expand your scope of responsibility to continue to build your career – and salary -- within the company.  You may also consider requesting that your bonus structure be increased or that you receive a separate bonus if you have maxed out your salary range.  As bonus funds come from a different line item on the P&L, companies may have more flexibility in this area.

Title is another aspect of your negotiation that shouldn’t be ignored.  Not only is it important to how you’re viewed within the company, but also how vendors and other business partners view your role.  It also helps with salary negotiations when you pursue your next career move.

If you have additional questions on salary management, please send them to