Nutritionist Career Salary Guide [2021]

According to data collected from a variety of HR resources and released in October 2014, the average salary of a nutritionist or dietician in the United States stands at $56,000 per year. This means that although this is the average, at least 50% of those currently employed in the role are not achieving this amount of annual salary. The data showed that those at the bottom end of the salary scale were only making $45,000 per year while those at the top of the salary ladder in the top 10% of earners were achieving a salary of $68,000 per year.

In 2017 there were 59,000 nutritionists working across America; then the average annual salary was $56,000, or $26.50 per hour. Those at the bottom of the pay scale working in entry level positions were paid at a rate of $16.50 per hour which equates to $34,000 per year, while those in the top 10% were paid at a rate of $37.00 per hour which equals $78,000 per year. These high earners were found to be departmental heads, with supervisory responsibilities.

For Example Penny Shore a Cat Nutritionist earns an average $46,999 after 3 years of Work Experience.

Clinical Nutritionist Job Description

A nutritionist is a health care professional who has undertaken training to specialise in the area of food and nutrition. They work with a wide range of clients from those with eating disorders, through to those who require specialised diets and those who need to monitor their diet in order to maintain their health and well being such as diabetics. They specialise in preventative nutrition and nutritional science as well as diseases which are linked to nutritional deficiencies. Nutritionists work in hospitals and other clinical environments as well as in schools and businesses.

Work Activities for Nutritionist

A nutritionist is just as much a scientific researcher as they are a health care professional, aspects of the role can include; participating in practical nutrition research projects and recruiting volunteers to take part in nutritional trials and studies. Part of their role involves raising awareness of the importance of good nutrition, educating not only their patient’s but also their colleagues about the latest nutritional research. They may also be required to design a healthy eating campaign aimed at a specific social group, for example reducing levels of obesity in children.

School Nutritionist Job Description

A school nutritionist has the opportunity to influence the health and wellbeing of pupils in school through the varied meal options that the children are presented with on a daily basis. They can instil healthy eating habits in children from a young age which they could then carry with them into adulthood which could be of great benefit to their future health. School nutritionists aim to maintain the health of the younger generation by providing them with a nutritionally balanced school meal every day, something which may not be possible at home.

A clinical nutritionist has the responsibility of ensuring that hospital in-patients get the right balance of nutrition through the food they are presented with every day in order to assist in their recovery and meet all of their nutritional needs. A clinical nutritionist does not only find employment within a hospital setting, they are also employed by the prison service and in retirement communities and nursing care homes. A clinical nutritionist has the opportunity to specialise in a number of fields including diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.

Fitness Nutritionist Job Description

A fitness nutritionist will assess the lifestyle of their client by looking into their eating habits, exercise schedule, medications and general health. They will then formulate a series of short term and long term goals for their client to achieve. They offer advice on dietary supplements, perform metabolic rate testing and analyse body composition before developing a nutritionally balanced diet for their client.

The plans that they put together are different to those of a general nutritionist as they are aimed at giving their clients increased levels of endurance of stamina. The fitness nutritionist is focussed on the biochemical composition of the body and the physiology of the athlete in order to provide them with the best possible nutritional plan so that they can provide peak performance in competition.

Bonus Payments for Nutritionists

Like many professions there is an opportunity for nutritionists to add to their salary in the form of an annual bonus paid out by their employer, though this of course depends upon the type and size of the employer they are working for. It was discovered that the annual bonus available to nutritionists or dieticians was worth up to $5,500 per year on top of their basic salaries.

Best Paying Industries for Nutritionists

The research data showed that the type of industry in which the nutritionist was employed greatly influenced the amount of money that they could earn, with some paying much higher wager than others. For example those employed in manufacturing industry were earning on average $65,000 per year which is far higher than the national average salary for the role. The finance and insurance sector was also found to pay in excess of the national average at $64,000 per year. Nutritionists employed by the wholesale trade were also well paid at $60,000 per year, as were those working in professional; scientific and technical services with a salary of $59,000 per year. All of which are a great deal higher than the salary paid for those working in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry where the average pay is only $48,000 per year.

Pros & Cons of Being a Nutritionist

Like all professions the role of nutritionist has its positives and negatives, all of which should be considered before anyone decides to make it their career. On the plus side there is the satisfaction in knowing that you are healing people to lead healthier lives by teaching them how to eat healthier.

Consultations with clients can involve creativity as you try to show them new ways of eating. It is a role which offers plenty of opportunities for self employment and offers some flexibility with working hours.

The job outlook is also good and the salary is higher than the national average wage for all professions across the country. There are some negative aspects to the role though; an individual’s knowledge of food preparation and nutritional values needs to be kept up to date. Information shared with patient’s relating to methods of cooking and associated health benefits needs to be completely accurate.

Nutritionists are sometimes required to undertake additional credentialing to boost their employment prospects and advancement in the profession is generally only achievable through higher education and degree programs.

Salary Influences for Nutritionists

The main factors which can influence a nutritionist’s salary are employment sector, geographical location, level of certification and years of experience.

It is the experience level that is perhaps one of the most important factors as those with several years of clinical working experience behind them can certainly command a higher salary than someone coming into the profession as a newly qualified professional.

Qualifications and certification are also important; some qualifications are only available to those with certain experience levels. Employment sector can also have a bearing on salary, for example those employed by hospitals can earn $40,000 – $53,000 per year, whilst those employed in the federal sector can earn $38,000 – $60,000 per year.

Geographical location has the biggest influence of all on just how much money a nutritionist can earn as salaries can vary greatly between states, and even within a state. For example in San JoseCalifornia the average wage for a nutritionist stands at $77,000 per year, whilst those employed in SacramentoCalifornia earn on average $71,000 annually.

Nutritionists Work Environment

Working hours are generally standard business hours, though those who are self employed may find that they work longer hours than someone employed in a hospital or nursing home. Working conditions are generally comfortable as the majority of consultations are carried out in a comfortable seated setting, in offices or at patient’s bedsides.

Who Hires Nutritionists?

A nutritionist or dietician can be employed in a number of different working environments from within a traditional hospital setting or health clinic to nursing care homes and educational environments. They can also be found working in non clinical settings such as cafeterias or for food manufacturers, plus they can also be employed in a research capacity or as a consultant to a business.

Job Outlook for Nutritionists

Like many other professional health care roles the prospects for future employment are good. Promoting health and well being through diet is gaining momentum as more people are looking for preventative health care measures to combat conditions such as diabetes. Obesity is also an issue facing the nation and more nutritionists and dieticians are required to help educate the public about healthy eating for a healthy life.

How to Become a Nutritionist?

A nutritionist or dietician is a health care professional who provides advice and information on eating for better health. Like many health care professions there are education and training requirements to meet on order to become qualified in the field of diet and nutrition.


If this is the career that you want then you need to find an accredited educational program to join. Many states require either a two or four year degree course in nutritional science be completed.

A bachelor’s degree in nutrition as well as courses in physiologychemistrybiology and institution management are also good to have. Other courses which will benefit your chosen career are psychology, economics, and sociology, mathematics and business studies. A good nutritional science programs should touch on all of these topics. Take your level of education further and gain a master’s degree in nutritional science and you will find that more employment opportunities become available.


In order to become certified a candidate has to pass the examination administered by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNBC).

Candidate’s knowledge of human biology, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, microbiology and biochemistry are assessed. As well as the examination the CNBC will also need to see your college transcripts. Once certified a candidate can then move on to the PGSCN program which will lead to the CCN examination. Once this examination has been passed its time to apply for your license to practice.


Licensing requirements can vary from one state to another so it is important to understand just what your state requirements are before you apply.

Generally you are required to put together all of the required documentation and have it all notarised before presenting it to the state licensing board. Just because one state has licensed you to practice it does not mean that you can work anywhere, each state requires its own license and may have slightly different licensing procedures.

Certified Holistic Nutritionist Requirements

An holistic nutritionist has all of the knowledge and training of a regular nutritionist but they are also able to combine what they know with what they have studied about complimentary or alternative therapies, treating the patient holistically to improve all aspects of their well being.

Candidates for the role of an holistic nutritionist need to have earned their bachelor’s degree in nutrition, dietetics or some other associated topic. This is then followed by a specialised certificate or degree program in holistic nutrition which encompasses a wide range of complementary and alternative therapies.

Candidates for the role are required to be well organised, analytically minded people with excellent interpersonal communication skills as they have to record a great deal of information and pick up on any nutritional clues a patient may reveal during a consultation. They are also required to have a good level of computer literacy. The nutritionist may be required to communicate with other medical professionals as part of a wider health care team; therefore it is important to be a clear communicator across the hierarchy of medical personnel.

Is a Bachelor’s Degree Necessary?

In order to meet the minimum educational requirements to be accepted onto a nutritionist training program a candidate is expected to be educated to degree level.

A bachelor’s degree in human nutrition or dietetics is desirable, or some other related topic which has been accredited by the ADA (American Dietetic Association). These accredited bachelor’s degree courses cover all of the necessary science subjects including anatomy and biochemistry. They also include topics such as the important and influence of nutrition in the human life cycle; assessing nutritional needs and deficiencies and core food principles.

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