The salary structure of a dietitian is one of the primary aspects that aspiring candidates must consider in order to have an idea about their earning potential. This CareerStint article will help you in this endeavor…
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions for qualified dietitians and nutritionists are expected to rise by 21% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.
The U.S.A. boasts of having one of the largest healthcare industries in the world. Owing to its diversified branches, the medical industry is intensely fertile with numerous career opportunities in the offing. A benchmark job that has displayed tremendous potential to offer career development and growth is that of a dietitian and/or nutritionist.
The title ‘dietitian’ is protected by law. Usually, ‘nutritionist’ is a non-accredited title, and it has been used by many unqualified people. However, there are qualified nutritionists too. Health professionals can use the title ‘dietitian’ after acquiring a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics (or a 3-year Science Degree) and a Master Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. They must complete practical training in different hospitals and community settings (in certain states, 1200 hours of supervised practice are required). A dietitian may further specialize in a specific area such as diabetes, weight management, renal diseases, or critically ill patient care. Therapeutic nutrition prescribed by a dietitian plays an important role in managing a chronic condition. It promotes fast recovery in certain cases. Dietary treatment helps manage food allergies, kidney disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, digestive system disorders, diabetes, gout, heart disease, cancer, etc.
To become a Registered Dietitian (RD), the candidate has to fulfill the educational requirements mentioned above, and pass the CDR’s (Commission on Dietetic Registration) Registration Examination for Dietitians. Those, who have earned RD credentials, must fulfill the licensing/certification requirements of the state in which they are going to work. To maintain that licensure/certification, they have to fulfill the state’s continuing education requirements.
Factors that Determine the Salary Range
There are several factors on which the salary of a dietitian depends; they are as follows:
➺ Work experience
➺ What type of dietitian you are
➺ Employer type
➺ Work location (State/Province)
➺ Certification/Degree/Educational Qualification.
➺ The annual median compensation of dietitians according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $56,950.
➺ According to salary dot com, the median salary was $57,020 as of May 2015. The lowest 10 percent of dietitians earned less than $47,201, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $67,239.
There are several types of dietitians that are in demand, for example, clinical dietitians, community dietitians, management dietitians, business dietitians, gerontological dietitians, and consultant dietitians. Data presented by various organizations show that a dietitian working with diabetes patients is likely to earn less than an animal dietitian working with a privately practicing veterinarian. Sports dietitians and dietitians working in health spas command high salaries, as they often work with highly-paid athletes and other wealthy professionals.
Clinical Dietitians ☛ Their work involves charting individualized nutritional programs. They work in close conjunction with healthcare experts and communities to provide health benefit to people of all ages, and in the process, assist them in coping with their respective conditions. According to PayScale, their approximate annual average salary draws close to $46,481.
Management Dietitians ☛ Also known as food service dietitians, they are responsible to plan large-scale meal programs. They coordinate and plan these programs in hospitals, cafeterias, and restaurants. Their annual average salary amounts to $55,000, approximately.
Community Dietitians ☛ These dietitians work with the public and international healthcare forums to spread awareness on topics centripetal to wellness, food, and nutrition. The annual average compensation approximates to $50,000.
Gerontological Dietitians ☛ They are professionals, who are assigned responsibility in hospitals, old-age homes, and institutions set up for the aged who are not keeping well, and require individualized diet plans that would cater to their health. The annual average earnings are $50,000 with the salary range being $36 K-$40K (approx.) for the lowest 10% and $60K-$65K (approx.) for the highest 10%.
Business Dietitians ☛ They are dietitians, who serve to be the ideal spokespersons for the media on behalf of the dietetic totem. Their expert views and opinions are recorded in order to be featured on television, incorporated on radio, and published in newspapers and fitness-related magazines. Their annual income may range between $60,000 to $80,000.
Consulting Dietitians ☛ They are self-employed, working independently in the field of dietetics to provide services concerning nutrition, designing diet programs for individuals, besides establishing professional correspondence with health care institutes. Approximate average income earned by a consulting dietitian is $60,000.
Other Factors that Determine the Salary
Dietetics, as a job family, comprises several specialties. Besides, pay packages may vary considering geographical differentials, the job grade, scope and concentration of employment, and level of experience garnered in the field of dietetics. However, with experience and appropriate certification, the pay scale ought to rise.
Job Set Up ☛ Depending on the job setup, the salary varies significantly. Salaries are highest in educational support services ($82,280) and government and federal setups ($69,450). In home healthcare services, the salaries would be around $66,650.
* Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014
Work Location ☛ Work location plays an important role in determining the salary of a dietitian. In New York, the average salary of a registered dietitian was $67,000, while in California, it was $60,000. In Pennsylvania, it was $54,000. Similarly, in Virginia and Texas, it was $56,000 and $54,000 respectively.
* Source: Indeed, May 2015
Educational Qualification ☛ Certification and degrees determine the dietitian salary. For example, if the annual salary of a RD with a Master’s degree is about $54K, then a RD with a Ph.D or equivalent should earn at least $10,000 more.
Work Experience ☛ The salary of dietitians having a work experience of one year is between $54,000-$57,000. For those having work experience between 3-4 years, salary ranges between $57,000 to $60,000. With 10-14 years of work experience, the salary ranges between $60,000 to $75,000.
Dominant Industry Profiles
Job opportunities for dietitians would peak over the next ten years. Learning about the types of industries that can prove lucrative for dietitians and those aspiring to become one, would help you select the best line that suits your occupational interest and requirements. Outpatient-dedicated care centers, specialty hospitals, food service providers, nursing care facilities, local and federal governments, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, and special food services are the industries that ought to be mind-registered by job seekers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes following industries as the top-paying industries for dietitians – Educational support services, Federal executive branch, Home health care services, Insurance carriers, and Outpatient care centers. Among these, the top payers are educational support services (the annual mean wage being $82,280).
States that possess the notch of offering a hefty compensation range are California, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, and New Jersey, with California offering the highest annual mean wage amounting to $72,010, and New Jersy paying an annual mean wage of $64,910. States with the highest employment level in this occupation are California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
You need to equip yourself with several criteria set up by American Dietetic Association (ADA), and must have necessary qualifications. Once you step in this field, you should make sustained efforts to keep your profile updated by joining online certification programs that can add more gravity to your resume. Your work experience and what you learn from it, will be valuable for you when you switch jobs. The salary, certainly is competitive, and with an increase in your work experience, you will be able to command a better pay envelope. In toto, people do stick on to a dietetics job, because it is morally profitable as well. As a dietitian, you help clients set and achieve their goals. You help them lead a healthy lifestyle. The immense satisfaction that you derive from these achievements… it’s a huge factor and a strong motivator.