How Much Does a Nutritionist Make a Year?

By Caroline Banton · March 05, 2024 · 7 minute read

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How Much Does a Nutritionist Make a Year?

Nutritionists advise others on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal, such as losing weight or reducing blood pressure. Some nutritionists work directly with clients and patients in clinical settings, while others work in community settings like schools or health centers developing food plans and strategies for certain groups or demographics.

How much a nutritionist makes will depend on their qualifications, experience, and where they work, but the average nutritionist’s salary in the U.S. is $54,137 a year, according to ZipRecruiter.

Read on to learn more about how much a nutritionist can make a year and an hour, which cities and states pay the highest salaries, and other compensation and occupational benefits nutritionists enjoy.

What Are Nutritionists?

A nutritionist is an expert in using food to improve health and to prevent and manage disease. Nutritionists often advise people on what to eat to address a particular medical issue, such as hypertension, diabetes, or obesity. They may also be called upon to come up with a plan of action in situations where a treatment protocol, such as chemotherapy, impacts an individual’s overall diet or creates particular food sensitivities. Their exact role will depend on their specialization.

Being a nutritionist is not an ideal job for antisocial people, since you generally don’t work alone. Nutritionists can work in a variety of work settings, including:

•   Hospitals and doctors’ offices

•   Nursing homes

•   Gyms and recreation centers

•   Foodservice organizations

•   Food and beverage companies

•   Pharmaceutical companies

•   Government organizations

While the terms “nutritionist” and “dietician” are often used interchangeably, there are some key distinctions between them. A registered dietitian (R.D.) is qualified to diagnose and treat certain medical conditions. Nutritionists, on the other hand, tend to focus on general nutritional aims and behaviors.

Dietitians also tend to have more education and credentials, though that’s not always the case. Depending on the state they practice in, a nutritionist may be required to have specific qualifications, certifications, or a license. However, in some states, there are no such mandates — meaning anyone can use the title if they want to.

While every dietitian can be called a nutritionist, not every nutritionist is a dietitian.

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How Much Do Starting Nutritionists Make a Year?

While the average nutritionist’s salary is $54,137 a year, someone just starting out in the field may not be able to earn that figure as an entry-level salary. That said, a nutritionist coming into the profession with an advanced degree, such as a master’s or doctorate, and a license or other credentials, may be able to command a higher-than-average salary even when they are just starting out.

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What is the Average Salary for a Nutritionist?

While salaries for a nutritionist can range anywhere from $32,500 to $90,000, the average annual pay for a nutritionist in the U.S. is $54,137 a year, according to February 2024 data from ZipRecruiter.

Nutritionist’s typically get paid an annual salary but some may make money by the hour, which can range from $15.62 to $43.27.

How much a nutritionist makes, however, can vary significantly by education, credentials, experience, industry, and location. Advanced education, such as a master’s or doctoral degree, can generally help you qualify for a higher-than-average nutritionist’s salary.

Certain metropolitan areas also pay more than others. The top paying cities for nutritionists include: Berkeley, CA,; Renton, WA; Newark, CA; Woburn, MA; and Santa Monica, CA.

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The Average Nutritionist Salary by State for 2024

As mentioned above, how much money a nutritionist makes can vary by location. What follows is a breakdown of how much a dietician makes per year, on average, by state (listed from highest to lowest).

State Average Annual Salary
Wisconsin $83,731
Alaska $81,044
Massachusetts $80,824
Oregon $80,772
New Mexico $80,529
North Dakota $80,527
Washington $80,268
Minnesota $79,381
Hawaii $78,914
Ohio $77,594
Colorado $76,879
Nevada $76,629
South Dakota $76,107
New York $75,623
Iowa $74,908
Rhode Island $74,814
Connecticut $74,143
Tennessee $74,087
Vermont $73,710
Utah $73,446
Mississippi $72,808
Delaware $72,604
Virginia $71,688
Illinois $71,072
Maryland $70,347
New Jersey $69,540
California $69,458
Louisiana $69,304
Pennsylvania $69,281
Nebraska $68,943
Kansas $68,520
Missouri $68,260
Maine $67,953
South Carolina $67,618
New Hampshire $67,312
Oklahoma $66,767
Idaho $66,358
Wyoming $66,356
North Carolina $66,222
Texas $65,834
Indiana $65,561
Arizona $64,205
Kentucky $64,000
Michigan $63,673
Montana $63,238
Alabama $62,448
Arkansas $60,647
Georgia $58,176
West Virginia $53,507
Florida $51,486

Source: ZipRecruiter

Nutritionist Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits

To get a job as a nutritionist or dietician, you may need:

•   A bachelor’s degree, ideally in dietetics, nutrition, food service systems management, clinical nutrition, or a related area.

•   Advanced degree (such as a master’s or doctoral degree)

•   Supervised training through an internship

•   A license (many, though not all, states require licenses for dietitians and nutritionists to practice)

•   Certification (many dietitians earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential, which requires a bachelor’s degree and completed a dietetic internship program).

Nutritionists who work on staff typically receive not only competitive pay but also a suite of benefits, which may include:

•   401(k)

•   Dental insurance

•   Disability insurance

•   Employee assistance program

•   Flexible spending account

•   Health insurance

•   Life insurance

•   Paid time off

•   Retirement plan

•   Vision insurance

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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Nutritionist?

As with any profession, becoming a nutritionist comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a closer look at the job’s pros and cons.

Pros of Becoming a Nutritionist

•   Opportunity to help people: Nutritionists help people by guiding them in their food choices and assisting them in reaching their health and nutritional goals, which can be highly rewarding.

•   Varied tasks and responsibilities: A nutritionist can enjoy meeting a variety of people in different contexts. No client or situation will be the same, and each will bring new challenges.

•   Can work in a variety of settings: Nutritionists can choose where they want to work, such as a hospital, nursing home, school, or gym. With extensive experience, a registered dietitian might open a private consulting practice and offer specialized services to their patients.

•   Strong job outlook: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the employment of dietitians and nutritionists to grow 7% between 2022 and 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Cons of Becoming a Nutritionist?

•   May need an advanced degree and certification: Depending on where you want to work, you may need to obtain a master’s and/or certain certifications (on top of a bachelor’s degree).

•   Can be emotionally draining: Though generally a low-stress job, nutritionists may need to have frequent interactions with seriously ill patients, which can be emotionally challenging.

•   You constantly have to stay up to date: Nutrition is an evolving science, which means you’ll need to stay current on the latest nutritional guidelines, regulations, and research, and adjust your practice based on new developments.

•   Competition for top-paying jobs: While the job outlook is strong for nutritionists, jobs with competitive pay may receive a lot of applicants. Obtaining more than the minimum education and training required by the state, however, can set you apart from other job competitors.

Recommended: How Much Does a Nurse Make a Year?

The Takeaway

Working as a nutritionist can be a rewarding career for people who want to help others improve their health and lifestyle. Nutritionists can choose where they want to work and who they want to work with. A nutritionist’s salary can range from $32,500 to $90,000 or more depending on their certification, experience, and employer.

Whatever type of job you pursue, you’ll want to make sure your earnings can cover your everyday living expenses. To help ensure your monthly outflows don’t exceed your monthly inflows, you may want to set up a basic budget and check out financial tools that can help track your income and spending.

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Can you make $100k a year as a nutritionist?

Earning $100K as a nutritionist is possible but isn’t typical. Nutritionist salaries range anywhere from $32,500 to $90,000 a year, according to ZipRecruiter. That said, getting an advanced degree and extra certifications and/or starting your own private practice could lead to a six figure income.

Do people like being a nutritionist?

People who want to help others and who have an interest in the science of food will enjoy being a nutritionist. There are plenty of opportunities for nutritionists in a variety of contexts.

Is it hard to get hired as a nutritionist?

Nutritionists and dieticians are currently in demand and job opportunities are expected to grow 7% between 2022 and 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Photo credit: iStock/Candle Photo

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