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The Salary of a Registered Dietitian With a Master's Vs. One With a Bachelor's Degree

by Dana Severson

In general, dietitians help people improve their diets. They assess a client’s needs and then develop meal plans based of their findings. Employers typically seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food and nutrition or a related field. A master’s degree can improve employment opportunities as well as wages, however.

Salary Ranges

In 2012, dietitians earned an average of $56,170 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase of just over 1 percent from the previous year, when salaries averaged $55,460 annually. Neither of these figures, however, accounts for degree. A survey by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that half of all registered dietitians with a bachelor’s degree earned at least $26.44 an hour, or $54,995 a year, in 2011. Those with a master’s degree earned a median wage of $28.85 an hour, or $60,008 a year.

Starting Salaries

A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers gives a better idea of earnings for those just starting in their careers. As of 2012, dietitians with a bachelor’s degree started at $48,700 a year. Dietitians with a master’s degree earned nearly 12 percent more, at an average of $54,400 annually.

Salaries by Experience

In addition to degree, earnings vary by level of experience. In general, half of all dietitians with fewer than five years of experience earned at least $21.63 an hour, or $44,900 a year, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics survey. Those with five to nine years of experience earned $25 an hour, or $52,000 a year, while those with 10 to 19 years of experience earned $28.37 an hour, or $59,009 annually. Salaries were the highest for those with more than 20 years of experience, at a median of $31.25 an hour, or $65,000 a year.

Career Outlook

The BLS expects employment for dietitians to be favorable, with an average growth rate of 20 percent through 2020, slightly faster than the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated growth rate of 14 percent. In a relatively small field, the 20-percent growth works out to nearly 13,000 new jobs for dietitians and nutritionists over the course of a decade.

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

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