A dietitian’s salary can be affected by many of the same factors that impact other areas of work. Most often, salary is based on experience and work record, the finances and status of the employer, and education levels. Supply and demand in the field of diet and nutrition will also typically affect the earning potential of a dietitian.
Dietitians with a great deal of work experience often expect and receive a better salary than those who are new to the workforce. An employer will typically expect that the higher level of pay will come back to the company by dollars saved on overseeing and managing the employee. Some employers see work experience as a more valuable asset than higher levels of education, though many of the most well paid dietitians typically have both.
Other than work experience, education is probably the single most important factor in determining a dietitian’s salary, especially in relation to dietitians who are new to the workforce. Typically, the higher the level of education completed, the higher the salary expectation. In most cases, a dietitian will need to have attained at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a nutrition-related field, but those who have gone through a master’s program are typically able to get the best jobs and earn the highest levels of salary.
Regardless of the work experience or education level, the size and finances of the employer affect a dietitian’s salary. Larger, well-established organizations are usually able and willing to pay their employees higher wages and better benefits. Small, less secure employers are often unable to be salary competitive.
Employment for dietitians is available in many different fields, and work within the various fields can have wide fluctuations in salary. For instance, a dietitian in a hospital can often earn much more than a dietitian working for a small school system. In addition, a dietitian working for a luxury health spa will typically make more than what could be earned working for a community health center.
Skills are a commodity, and as such, a dietitian’s salary is affected by the demand for his skills and the supply of workers who possess those skills. Those who are interested in becoming a dietitian should first check to see if the market for the skill set has become saturated. Most regional and state agencies and schools have career counselors who should be able to offer good advice on salary and employment prospects for the field.