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How Much Does a Dietitian Make?

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Because registered dietitians must use the principles of nutrition and diet to treat medical conditions and promote well-being, studying to be one can be a rigorous process.

You’ll have to complete a college education (a bachelor’s degree for now, and starting in 2024, a master’s) and internship hours, and then meet state and professional credential requirements. The investment can be big, but so can a registered dietitian salary!

In This Article

Whether you’re just entering the field or earning an advanced degree or specialty certification, find out what dietitians typically earn and what factors can impact how much you can make in this profession.

Dietitian Job Outlook

Judging by the job growth rate for this profession, it may be a good time to consider pursuing an RDN degree and helping people live better lives.

So what exactly can you expect when it comes to what you might make as a dietitian?

Our guide aims to give you a better understanding, but keep in mind that, as with any profession, the money you earn is dependent on factors such as where you live, your area of practice, your level of education, and how long you’ve been in the field.


Median Dietitians’ Salaries Compared by State

The city and state where you work plays a big part in what you could earn due in large part to the cost of living. Unsurprisingly, states on the West and East coasts report some of the highest salaries.

Use the widget below to find the annual dietitian salary for the state in which you plan to work, and see how dietitian careers stack up.


Dietitians and Nutritionists

National data

Median Salary: $61,650

Projected job growth: 6.8%

10th Percentile: $42,530

25th Percentile: $49,490

75th Percentile: $77,430

90th Percentile: $93,640

Projected job growth: 6.8%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $75,730 $47,410 $97,680
Alabama $59,280 $42,280 $76,430
Arkansas $57,800 $42,920 $77,210
Arizona $60,530 $43,500 $79,340
California $79,340 $47,590 $116,690
Colorado $61,350 $47,150 $91,110
Connecticut $62,170 $47,150 $94,870
District of Columbia $77,810 $47,150 $101,220
Delaware $69,550 $46,980 $87,750
Florida $60,290 $42,290 $79,100
Georgia $48,000 $22,830 $78,380
Hawaii $76,920 $58,000 $97,310
Iowa $60,570 $47,020 $76,920
Idaho $59,540 $35,880 $79,460
Illinois $62,920 $47,150 $79,500
Indiana $59,720 $46,450 $78,230
Kansas $60,450 $47,040 $89,410
Kentucky $59,720 $37,150 $77,740
Louisiana $60,130 $46,980 $77,960
Massachusetts $62,410 $47,210 $99,770
Maryland $69,210 $50,340 $98,820
Maine $60,850 $47,040 $99,770
Michigan $60,180 $45,070 $77,600
Minnesota $62,060 $48,450 $78,690
Missouri $48,980 $43,370 $77,060
Mississippi $46,730 $18,070 $71,120
Montana $60,110 $37,620 $77,210
North Carolina $60,040 $37,310 $78,230
North Dakota $60,490 $47,020 $77,670
Nebraska $60,570 $47,100 $78,220
New Hampshire $63,650 $46,710 $89,150
New Jersey $76,270 $59,280 $94,880
New Mexico $61,090 $45,200 $80,200
Nevada $61,310 $36,900 $78,940
New York $75,000 $48,000 $98,540
Ohio $60,850 $47,230 $78,760
Oklahoma $60,560 $30,180 $77,560
Oregon $74,660 $57,440 $99,220
Pennsylvania $61,650 $45,800 $79,730
Rhode Island $74,970 $38,160 $100,650
South Carolina $59,280 $27,050 $77,560
South Dakota $59,320 $47,020 $97,720
Tennessee $58,550 $23,450 $78,940
Texas $61,350 $37,880 $85,820
Utah $49,860 $29,530 $78,610
Virginia $60,590 $37,560 $85,630
Vermont $61,940 $47,740 $100,660
Washington $70,260 $47,380 $89,710
Wisconsin $60,400 $46,090 $78,940
West Virginia $61,940 $42,090 $87,820
Wyoming $61,220 $33,280 $127,470

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Where are Dietitians Most in Demand?

These five states represent the top five most populous states in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which likely contributes to this ranking. Salaries are typically based on local demand for services and the availability of qualified dietitians to meet that demand.

Geographic areas that have higher concentrations of people are most likely to have more people dealing with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic diseases associated with aging, all of whom benefit from the services provided by dietitians.

How Dietitian Salaries Vary by Specialty

Different variables, especially the type of work you do as a dietitian, will affect your earning power.

According to the Academy’s survey, the particular work environment in which you practice is another factor to consider when determining salary. “The 2021 survey shows that RDNs who do not see patients/clients earn more than those who do,” the report states, “but that is primarily attributable to the fact that they have other characteristics that correlate with higher wages.

For example, being faculty members or consultants, being involved in management and supervisory functions, and having budget authority.”

Industry

Median Annual RDN Wage (BLS)


Merchant wholesalers, non-durable goods
Work with food wholesalers and manufacturers to provide nutrition facts and meal plans based on the products they sell to businesses, retailers, and other organizations

$85,880

Outpatient care centers
Earn a hospital dietitian salary by offering guidance in meal planning and food selection, to help patients manage chronic conditions through periodic consultations

$72,470

Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals
Work with kitchen staff to provide meal choices that align with the unique needs of specialty patients such as children, and educate family members on ways to continue good nutrition after discharge

$70,090

General medical and surgical hospitals
Monitor and assess patients to provide individualized nutritional care that supports a wide range of changing conditions and disease states

$66,490

Nursing care facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)
Collaborate with medical staff to provide appropriate nutritional support that aligns with each patient’s needs, abilities, and preferences

$62,630


What’s Your Highest Earning Potential as RDN?

Variables such as advanced education and specialization certifications can help you increase your earnings — no matter where you live.

It Depends on Your Level of Education

While state licensure and certification laws vary, you’ll have to complete a bachelor’s degree (there are online RDN options for this as well) and other requirements regarding experience and practice hours to qualify for Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credentials.

Dietitians who pass the credentialing exam can use either the RD or RDN designation and work in positions as dietitians. Dietitians who work in the profession without earning the RD or RDN designation can’t call themselves dietitians or qualify for positions with this role and requirements.

However, effective January 1, 2024, all incoming dietitians will have to hold a master’s degree or doctorate to sit for the national certification exam. While the change won’t affect dietitians who have already earned their RDN credential before that date, it could mean that current dietitians whose highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree could eventually have a disadvantage as dietitians with advanced degrees become the norm.

Certifications Make a Difference

In addition to educating yourself to provide more comprehensive professional service, specialty certifications allow you to focus your practice on specific conditions or patient demographic groups. Having proof of specialization can help you qualify for higher-paying positions and can also justify pricing your services above the norm if you’re self-employed.

You can enhance your professional credentials with specialty board certifications indicate that you’ve demonstrated expertise in a given area of specialization. Board-certified specialists are credentialed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), which serves as the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Specializing Your Way to Higher Dietitian Pay

The CDR offers specialty Board Certification as a Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG), Pediatric Nutrition (CSP), Pediatric Critical Care Nutrition (CSPCC), Oncology Nutrition (CSO), Renal Nutrition (CSR), Obesity and Weight Management (CSOWM), and Sports Dietetics (CSSD).

You can also earn specialty certification as a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) from the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE). CDE certification equips you to work with patients and families to help them manage self-care skills for their condition.

Having proof of specialization can help you qualify for higher-paying positions and can also justify pricing your services above the norm if you’re self-employed.

Some Concentrations Pay More Than Others

While specializations can increase your earning potential, some concentrations may offer a bigger payout. According to PayScale.com dietitians can earn the highest increases over average salaries with specializations that included dialysis (23%), oncology (8%), renal (12%), eating disorders (4%), and diabetes education (3%).

For example, results from the 2018 Salary Survey of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association demonstrate how progressively increasing responsibility and experience can also enhance salary averages. According to the survey, the average salary for a sports/performance dietitian was about $63,000, while dietitian coordinators earned $66,625 and directors earned $82,447.

Sports dietitians with less than one year of experience earned an entry level dietitian salary of $56,215, while those who had worked between three and five years in the industry averaged $65,083, and sports dietitians with over seven years of experience averaged close to $100,000 in this specialized field.

You can also get a realistic perspective of the job market for dietitians by exploring professional career guides and current job postings in the food and nutrition industry provided by professional associations like the Academy.  


What Can You Charge Per Hour in Private Practice? 

Just like salaries, hourly rates for dietitians in private practice vary by location and area of expertise. As the Academy indicated, roles in which dietitians don’t provide direct patient services can offer higher salaries.

As a result, a consultant dietitian salary may be higher than that of a personal dietitian. Since many health insurance companies cover nutrition services provided by dietitians, your hourly rates may be subject to limits set by patients’ health insurance policies.

According to the website Thumbtack, an online service that matches consumers with local professionals, the national average hourly rate for a nutritionist ranges between $90 and $200. Rates vary by region and area of specialization, so it’s up to each dietitian to determine local competitive rates.

Of course, having specialty certifications or specializations may allow you to demand a higher rate for service. Dietitian organizations and other professional dietitian resources offer valuable information regarding the science of setting a professional rate structure.

Important Considerations for Working Independently

Many dietitians choose to work in private practice because of the freedom and flexibility they gain in choosing when, where, and with whom to work. While working in private practice has its benefits, it’s not for everyone.

As a dietitian in private practice, you’ll have to handle the same challenges that face most entrepreneurs. To succeed, you’ll need a sound business plan that accounts for marketing, scheduling, bookkeeping, and filing insurance claims. You’ll also need a meeting space or be willing to meet people in their homes.

In addition, you’ll have to cover the costs of your own professional liability insurance, personal health insurance, and continuing education. But for the freedom and flexibility, it can be worth it for many people.


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Written and reported by:
Natural Healers Team

ginger hultin ms rdn cso

With professional insight from:
Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO
Founder, ChampagneNutrition®

Anne Lund MPH RDN

With professional insight from:
Anne Lund, MPH, RDN
Fellow, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics