It is no secret that the food we eat has a lot of impact on our health. Understanding this relationship can be difficult, thanks to the sheer number of food types and the gross misinformation that usually accompanies their consumption.
Thankfully, experts are trained to recognize and understand the relationship between the food we eat and our overall health. This group of experts is known as nutritionists, notably registered dietitians.
They can help individuals formulate diet plans based on their unique biology to attain the best outcome for their conditions.
The demand for nutritionists and dieticians has been on the rise. But how much do they make exactly? And what factors can influence these figures? We take a detailed look below.
Nutritionist Median Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a nutritionist was $61,650 in 2021. The highest earners in the top 10% earned more than $93,640, while those in the top 25% earned $77,430.
On the lower end, the bottom 10% of nutritionists by earning took home $42,530, while those in the bottom 25% earned $49,490.
As we’ll see below, quite a few factors are responsible for the differences in monthly/yearly earnings. Thankfully, as a nutritionist, once you’re aware of them, these factors can be optimized in your favor to increase your potential earnings in the coming years.
Factors that Affect How Much a Nutritionist Earns
Below are a few factors responsible for the differences in earnings for every nutritionist.
Nutritionists in some states earn more salaries than those in other states. This is usually down to the level of demand in one state compared to the other. Still, it is also worth mentioning that some states have stricter requirements for licensure than others, and as such, a disparity in salary arises.
Below are a few examples of how nutritionist salaries differ by state.
Nutritionist Salary by State
California has the highest nutritionist salary, with a median annual salary of $82,380. It also maintains a significant advantage by having ten of the highest-paying cities for nutritionists.
Washington, DC, follows with an annual median salary of $80,600, while Hawaii and New Jersey are not far behind with $75,02 and $74,850, respectively.
Rhode Island rounds up the top five highest-paying states for nutritionists, with an annual median salary of $74,080.
Highest Paying Cities for Nutritionists
Most of the highest-paying cities for a nutritionist are found in California. They include San Jose, with an annual median salary of $103,240; San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward, with $97,490; Vallejo and Fairfield, with $97,270; Santa Rosa, with $87,950; Santa Cruz, with $86,110 and Napa with an $85,520.
Modesto, Stockton-Lodi, Salinas, and Sacramento are just a little behind, with an annual median salary of $84,750, $84,260, $83,700, and $83,120, respectively.
Degree & Educational Qualifications
Education level is another factor that can seriously impact how much one earns as a nutritionist. For instance, a nutritionist with a master’s degree can apply for advanced leadership positions where they get paid way more than a nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree.
A nutritionist can obtain a doctorate and earn higher. This is why nutritionists should further their education as much as possible to be considered for high-paying roles.
Naturally, experience matters in any field. When it comes to healthcare, the need for expertise is even more substantial. And the field of nutrition is no different.
As nutritionists spend more time on the job, they continue to expand their knowledge and skills and, in turn, qualify for employment with more stringent experience requirements. These jobs tend to pay more than regular ones.
Additionally, nutritionists with significant experience working for others usually have all it takes to start their practice. With a private practice, they build their business and earn potentially more than they could ever have working for others.
Certifications offer a lot of leverage for a nutritionist. It shows that they are dedicated and committed to the job and have enough profound knowledge in the field to have earned that certification.
Additionally, perhaps thanks to these, certified nutritionists tend to earn more than regular uncertified nutritionists.
Of course, some states will not allow an uncertified nutritionist to practice in the first place.
Place of Work
Another factor that plays a massive role in determining how much a nutritionist earns is their place of work. For instance, nutritionists who work with the federal government took home an annual salary of $77,580 in previous years. Those who worked in outpatient facilities earned close to $70,000, while those who worked in offices belonging to physicians and other healthcare providers took home no more than $62,170.
Lastly, your area of specialization as a nutritionist can also significantly impact how much you earn annually. Not only does specialization determine the kind of certification (which has a significant impact on annual salary), but it also determines the place of work and the ability to start a private practice quickly.
In short, nutritionists in certain areas of specialization earn more because they get to work in higher-paying facilities and start their practices a lot more quickly than those in other areas of specialization.
Nutritionist Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7 percent employment growth for dietitians and nutritionists between 2021 to 2031. This indicates about 5,600 new openings every year.
The optimistic projection was attributed mainly to replacing workers who will transfer to different occupations or retire. As this continues, fresh nutritionists will be needed to replace them, leading to more employment opportunities.
The renewed interest in food and nutrition to achieve sound health and wellness was also identified as a significant reason for the projection.