As RDNs and CNSs, we know that the standard industry annual salary for our profession is, well, frustratingly low. However, those of you with an entrepreneurial spirit and the confidence to charge what you are worth may already be making your dream salary or are well on your way to getting there. Good for you!
No matter where you are at in your career, whether you are an employee or self-employed—knowing your worth is so important. And once you know and understand your professional value, asking for what you are worth is critical.
What Should I Charge?
Many RDNs and CNSs who strike out on their own want to know: “What should I charge?” Great question. Your credentials, your education, your services, your brand – all hold clout. Do you specialize in sports nutrition? Diabetes? Have you honed a skill set that commands a higher fee from your patients and clients? Scope out what others are charging in your city. Bounce an hourly fee off your mentor or business coach. Ask your peers. Talk with your financial planner. Review your budget and set a fee that will provide you with an annual salary that you deserve.
Whatever you do, don’t set your rate low. Find a number that will pay your bills and allow you to live comfortably! That number, when you look at it on a piece of paper, should make you smile. It should make you nod and say, “Wow, I would be thrilled to be paid that much per hour.” Aim high!
If you're an employee, negotiate like crazy. Don’t settle for that initial offer. And make sure you have marked a couple (or more) check-ins on the calendar every year with your manager to revisit your salary and benefits once you are hired on.
Revisit and Raise Your Rates
The Healthy Bytes team suggests re-evaluating and raising your rates year over year. Your business is growing, you’re gaining more experience, and appointments with you are in demand! Your hair stylist raises his or her rates every now and then, yes? Yet you keep returning to his or her salon because you have formed a relationship with that person and know they will cut your hair just the way you like. The same is true of your accountant and your lawyer. Right? So, why wouldn’t you raise your rates to account for your cost of living and the value that you provide to your clients?
Advancing the Profession
Lastly, when you know your value and ask for it, you’re also doing other RDNs a favor – we’re the nutrition experts and when we’re growing our income as a whole, we’re all able to set higher fees, as our clients and patients will come to expect this as the norm. Don’t undersell yourself – ever. Set your fee, believe in your fee, and charge that fee - confidently!
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