Nutritionist Salary: What You Can Earn in This Growing Field

woman negotiating salary with potential client

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 not only grown in a variety of settings, but salaries have also become increasingly competitive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS), nutritionists across the country earned an average annual salary of more than $61,000 in 2018, with the top 10% earning $80,000 and beyond. Compare that to the national average of roughly $52,000 for all occupations, and a job in nutrition 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.


Average Salary by Workplace

The setting in which you work can certainly impact the money that you make. Common employers and average salaries offered, courtesy of 2018 BLS figures, are as follows (note, the BLS combines salary information for nutritionists and dietitians):

Employer

Average Annual Salary


Merchant wholesaler
Test and evaluate nutritional value of products at a food or supplement manufacturer or decide which products to buy and sell

Average Annual Salary $73,610

Insurance carrier
Provide personalized nutrition counseling to clients via corporate wellness programs

Average Annual Salary $69,210

Nursing care facility
Collaborate with doctors, nurses, and staff to devise diet plans for patients who are undergoing long-term care or recovery away from the hospital

Average Annual Salary $60,230

Outpatient care center
Plan healthy meals for patients recovering from a procedure or guide better behaviors for those with eating disorders or other conditions

Average Annual Salary $66,840

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

Average Annual Salary $62,640

Psychiatric or substance abuse hospital
Work with doctors to address the nutritional needs and deficits of patients

Average Annual Salary $62,590

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

Average Annual Salary $60,520

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 $60–$100 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.


Where the Best-Paying Nutritionists Jobs Are

Where you live also plays a large part in what you could earn. Of the highest-paying states in 2018, the top 10 included:

1. California: $74,060
2. Alaska: $71,210
3. Connecticut: $69,610
4. Hawaii: $69,050
5. New Jersey: $68,810

6. Maryland: $68,760
7. Oregon: $68,050
8. New York: $65,710
9. Nevada: $65,710
10. Washington: $65,110

You’ll also find higher salaries in certain major cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas. Nine of the top 10 highest-paying cities in the nation lie in northern or central California.

map of california state

Modesto: $88,160
Vallejo: $84,770
Salinas: $84,370
San Jose: $82,190
San Francisco: $82,160
Sacramento: $79,590
Napa: $77,050
Santa Cruz: $75,100
Visalia: $74,490

Other top-paying locations not in California include:

Kingston, NY: $75,080
Bellingham, WA: $72,900
Portland, Oregon: $72,640
Hawaii Island, HI: $72,400

Maui, HI: $70,820
New York, NY/Newark, NJ: $70,580
Naples, FL: $70,380
Anchorage, AK: $70,100

Don’t see your state? Use the drop-down menus to find the average annual salary for the others.

Alabama: $55,580
Arizona: $55,060
Arkansas: $58,390
Colorado: $60,500
Delaware: $64,590
Florida: $61,710
Georgia: $54,550
Idaho: $53,420
Illinois: $58,020
Indiana: $56,620
Iowa: $47,580
Kansas: $57,300
Kentucky: $57,980
Louisiana: $56,440
Maine: $58,310
Massachusetts: $64,860
Michigan: $57,000
Minnesota: $61,820
Mississippi: $51,690
Missouri: $54,030
Montana: $50,650

Nebraska: $55,900
New Hampshire: $60,900
New Mexico: $54,300
North Carolina:
$54,810
North Dakota: $56,240
Ohio: $57,500
Oklahoma: $56,100
Pennsylvania: $56,440
Rhode Island: $61,870
South Carolina: $53,690
South Dakota: $55,680
Tennessee: $55,120
Texas: $56,550
Utah: $56,390
Vermont: $57,640
Virginia: $61,550
Washington DC: $65,490
West Virginia: $55,180
Wisconsin: $55,760
Wyoming: $63,120


Average National Salary Compared to Related Roles

If you’re curious to know how the salary stacks up against others, compare the average national wages for related roles within the natural healing space.

Position

Dietetic technician

Fitness instructor

Other diagnosing and treating practitioners (such as homeopathic and naturopathic healthcare providers)

Average Annual Salary

$29,610

$44,580

$85,600


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. However, even if yours doesn’t, earning certification 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.

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 leadership or private practice.

Plan Your Future Now

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