In This Article
- How to Become a Nutritionist
- Nutrition Degrees
- Online Nutritionist Programs
- Nutritionist Certification
- Job Duties
Nutritionist salary: What can you earn in this growing field?
As the American population continues to learn about how what we consume affects our overall health, the number of people seeking nutritional services has only continued to rise.
Thanks to this increased demand, job opportunities have grown in various settings, salaries have become increasingly competitive, and a job as a nutritionist can be rewarding personally, professionally, and financially.
While the salary a nutritionist earns depends on a number of factors such as workplace, location, education, and specialization, our guide aims to give you a better understanding of what you might expect to make as you work to improve the lives and health of others.
Median salaries by state
Every state has its own economy and standard of living, and what you could earn in your state will be influenced accordingly.
But factors such as where you work, what city you live in, your education, and the nutritionist specialty you choose to practice will also impact how much you earn.
As a first step, if you’re curious to know how your salary stacks up compared to other states, here are the median annual national wages for every state in the U.S.
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||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$77,810||$47,150||$101,220|
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.
Is a nutritionist in high demand?
With how we eat becoming more of a recognized and critical factor in mental and physical health, a nutritionist’s skills are needed in more and more areas of our daily lives. Interest in the role of food and nutrition in promoting wellness and preventive care has helped us understand the importance of diet in preventing and controlling certain illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion confirms that “strategies and interventions to help people choose healthy foods can help reduce their risk of chronic diseases and improve their overall health.”
But they also note that too many people don’t have access to healthy foods and the information they need. This is how, by becoming a nutritionist, you can help fill the gap—by working in community health services, nursing homes, outpatient care centers, and other social environments.
The BLS says that with this understanding, nutritionist jobs will grow approximately through 2031, and that equates to 5,600 new jobs in the field each year, regardless of location or workplace.
Where the best-paying nutritionist jobs are
Where you live also plays a large part in what you could earn. Of the highest-paying states in 2021, The BLS says these are where you can earn the most money.
Top-paying states for nutritionists
Surprisingly, some of the best-paying states in the top 10 are the smallest, though California, with its higher cost of living and larger population is no surprise at #1.
It’s important to note that there is still a variance in pay within any given state, California included, and a nutritionist working in a large metropolitan hub is likely to earn far more than one working in a rural community but other considerations will be how much experience they have and who their client base is.
District of Columbia: $77,810
New Jersey: $76,270
New York: $75,000
Rhode Island: $74,970
Top-paying cities for nutritionists
You may also find higher salaries in certain major cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas. As of 2021, all of the top 10 highest-paying cities in the nation are in California, which as we have noted also has the highest concentration of people and cost of living.
There are still opportunities for people not in a large metro radius, however, so if you prefer to live in a more rural area that has a primary industry in livestock, for example, you could consider animal nutrition as a career field and your animal nutritionist salary may be higher due to your expertise in an in-demand area.
Furthermore, even though California claims the prize for the top 10 paying cities, there are many other cities in other states that present opportunities for nutritionists.
Top-paying cities outside of California
If California is out of the equation for you, perhaps one of the top-paying locations not in California is a better match, including:
Portsmouth, NH: $77,600
Rochester, MN: $77,590
Barnstable Town, MA: $77,330
NY/Newark, NJ: $76,950
Honolulu, HI: $76,920
Trenton, NJ: $76,760
Salem, OR: $76,600
Anchorage, AK: $75,730
Next, let’s look at the industries and environments your nutritionist job may take you.
Median salary by workplace and industry
The setting in which you work can certainly impact the money that you make. Working in community health services probably won’t pay as much as a high-end spa, on staff at a large corporation, or even as a personal trainer with a nutritionist certification.
But you still might be surprised at what you may be able to earn. Look at some of the highest-paying employer types cited by the BLS.
Median Annual Salary
Outpatient care centers
Plan and prepare nutritional diets and plans for in-home care, and rehabilitating patients, or seniors.
Provide nutrition counseling to federal, state, or local government agencies or food service industries.
Nursing care facility
Collaborate with doctors, nurses, and staff to devise diet plans for senior patients who are undergoing residential living, long-term medical care, or recovery in a private facility.
General or surgical hospital
Collaborate with the kitchen to provide nutritious meals for patients and visitors, and educate patients and families on ways to improve health through nutrition.
Specialty food service
Design menus, create recipes and/or test ingredients and products in settings such as restaurants, spas, grocery stores, health food stores, natural pharmacies, and meal delivery services.
Considering private practice?
Nutritionists who want the opportunity to be their own boss and work on their own schedule might choose to go into private practice. They’ll provide personal consultations to provide nutritional education, design healthy eating plans, and address topics such as weight loss, eating disorders, muscle gain, and sports improvement.
Salary data can be a bit more difficult to provide as self-employed nutritionists have the option to charge whatever they choose. That said, according to salaries provided on Thumbtack, nutritionists across the country charge an average of around $90–$200 per session. Initial consultations are often more expensive with subsequent sessions being lower. Most nutritionists offer packages that cost less per session the more you buy.
As a private practitioner, staying up to date on nutritional news, health topics, food warnings and industry trends via professional journals, industry newsletters, social media accounts and blogs is imperative to providing knowledgeable and professional advice and service.
Six trending nutritionist jobs and their median salaries
Like most jobs, you can choose to specialize and work in a particular area of nutrition. Get inspired by these six types of nutritionists and take a look at what they do and the median salary, courtesy of Zippia, that you may be able to earn doing them.
Devise strategies to help athletes eat well to optimize performance and minimize recovery time from injury. Set diets and give advice on supplements, hydration tactics and nutrition while on the road.
Median salary: $56,190
Educate clients on how food and diet impact physical or mental health, as well as create specialty diets, such as chemical-free diet plans, for some patients. These nutritionists are primarily advisors who help patients gain control over their own health.
Median salary: $55,485
Director of nutrition
Oversee all aspects of an organization or company’s nutrition guidelines and initiatives, including diet plans, menus, and nutrition education.
Median salary: $125,879
Eating disorders nutritionist
Work with a patient’s team, including therapists, psychologists, medical doctors, nurses, and case managers to create meal plans that are compatible with the type of eating disorder behavior the patient indulged in. Take weight and vital statistics daily and monitor behavior.
Median salary: $81,900
Provide proper nutritional plans and care for children with a variety of medical diagnoses where growth, body functions, and feeding are impacted.
Median salary: $72,828
Use their knowledge of animal science and nutrition to create diet plans for animals. The job requires a strong background in science and can serve animals in categories such as pets, livestock, horses and as a veterinary animal nutritionist where you’ll work with a veterinary team to help animals with specific dietary issues such as IBD or allergies.
Median salary: $76,530
Additionally, you may even consider becoming a food scientist and working in food commercialization.
How to increase your earning potential
Roughly half of all U.S. states require some level of certification or licensing to work as a nutritionist. But even if yours doesn’t, earning a professional certification in nutrition can demonstrate to potential clients and employers that you have the knowledge necessary to make a positive impact and the commitment to maintaining the highest standards of the field.
You may want to consider becoming a licensed nutritionist by earning credentials from a nationally recognized nutrition licensing body such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) or the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB).
Depending on the certification you want to earn, this could require as little as having a high school diploma and passing an exam or as much as holding a graduate degree and completing 1,000 hours of supervised experience. A graduate degree, whether a master’s or a doctorate, can also increase your earning potential by making you a stronger candidate for a wider variety of roles, including ones within the leadership or private practice.
If you’re a busy professional unable to fit a commute and a standardized class schedule into your life, getting your certification or nutrition degree online may be a better option.