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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, 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.


Salaries Compared by State

If you’re curious to know how the salary stacks up state-wise, compare the median national wages for every state in the U.S.


Median 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 the most up to date 2021 BLS figures, are as follows (note, the BLS combines salary information for nutritionists and dietitians):

Employer

Median Annual Salary


Outpatient Care Centers
Plan and prepare nutritional diets and plans for in-home care, rehabilitating patients, or seniors

Median Annual Salary $72,470

Government
Provide nutrition counseling to agencies or food service industries

Median Annual Salary $59,290

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

Median Annual Salary $62,630

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

Median Annual Salary $66,490

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

Median Annual Salary $64,430

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 industry trends via professional journals, industry newsletters, social media accounts and blogs is imperative to providing superior service.


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 2021, the top 10 included:

1. California: $79,340
2. District of Columbia: $77,810
3. Hawaii: $76,920
4. New Jersey: $76,270
5. Alaska: $75,730

6. New York: $75,000
7. Rhode Island: $74,970
8. Oregon: $74,660
9. Washington: $70,260
10. Delaware: $69,550

You’ll 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 lie in northern or central California!

map of california state

San Jose: $103,240
San Francisco: $97,490
Vallejo: $97,270
Santa Rosa: $87,950
Santa Cruz: $86,110
Napa: $85,520
Modesto: $84,750
Stockton: $84,260
Salinas: $83,700
Sacramento: $83,120

Other top-paying locations not in California include:

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

Don’t see your state? Use the salary widget above to find the median annual salary for the others.


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.

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.