Are you considering a career as a nutritionist and want to know the annual salary, including for top-performing nutritionists? If so, you’re asking an intelligent question.
As much as we want to follow our dreams and embark on meaningful careers, the pay needs to be in line with the effort required and the cost of living.
We’ll delve into the answer below:
The Importance of Salary for Nutritionists
As Public Health Degrees points out, becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD) (the individuals most qualified to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy) requires the following steps in the US:
- Receive a bachelor’s or master’s degree (must be from an accredited program)
- Successfully complete dietetic internship hours
- Get a passing grade on the CDR exam
- Receive a state license
- Continue to renew state licensing and registration
Getting and maintaining an RD license requires a lot of work and expertise. All that effort and knowledge acquired–never mind the cost of education–should yield a substantial salary reflective of the unique skill set needed to be a Registered Dietitian.
Digging Deeper Into Nutritionists’ Salaries
Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of what kind of money someone can expect to make as a nutritionist in the US.
What Is the Average Salary for a Nutritionist?
A quick visit to Salary.com will tell you that as of November 23rd, 2022, the average US salary for a nutritionist is $67,200.
Typically, the average salary for a nutritionist lands between $61,200 and $73,800.
Averages are a finicky thing, though. Factors like additional skills, certifications, experience, and education will dictate a Medical Nutrition Therapy provider’s salary.
There’s also the matter of where you live.
For instance, a nutritionist in California will make 11% on average more than the national average (likely due to the high cost of living in the state). Conversely, the average salary for a nutritionist in Georgia is the same as the national average.
Different Qualifications to Provide Medical Nutrition Therapy
Those interested in a career providing Medical Nutrition Therapy benefit from knowing the various designations in the industry.
What initially comes to mind is that the best nutritionists and Registered Dietitians aren’t one and the same. First, let’s examine what Medical News Today has to say about the issue:
- While nutritionists and Registered Dietitians focus on finding the best foods and dietary approaches for clients, their qualifications differ.
- Registered Dietitians in the US are licensed and certified to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy for clinical conditions (e.g., diabetes or renal disease).
- Nutritionists don’t always have the qualifications to treat these clinical problems.
There is another designation to consider: Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist.
Industry experts point out that the Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist’s credentials are the same as a Registered Dietitian’s. The difference has more to do with the approach of the practitioner. Adding “nutritionist” to the equation means a heightened focus on wellness and disease/illness prevention and management.
In short, all Registered Dietitians are inherently nutritionists, but not all nutritionists can claim to be RDs.
Is the Salary Different for Registered Dietitians Than It Is for Nutritionists?
The information available on this topic lumps the RD and nutritionist professions together. Since we established that all Registered Dietitians are nutritionists, it only makes sense that there’s a cross-pollination of data.
Therefore, the average annual salary discussed in the previous section also applies to Registered Dietitians (or Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists).
Now, you may read this and think, “Why should I bother becoming a Registered Dietitian if I get paid the same as a nutritionist?” It’s a fair question because of all the necessary education—and costs—required to become an RD compared to being a general nutritionist.
Perhaps we can shed some light.
With the increased accreditations of an RD, you have access to more job opportunities in different settings. There’s also a greater chance you exceed the average salary since you’d be qualified to help more clients and do more impactful work.
Something else to consider is that health insurance providers typically only allow referrals to Registered Dietitians.
None of this is to knock strict nutritionists out there. It’s a noble pursuit that helps people lead and enjoy better, healthier lives by coaching them on how to start eating healthy. But more qualifications and accreditations and a broader range of experience typically yield higher salaries.
What Other Factors Impact a Nutritionist’s Earnings?
Like any profession, you need to market yourself effectively (and ethically) and grasp how to attract clients. This includes credentialing with insurance, creating a Google Business listing, listing yourself on professional directories, building a referral network, etc.
You could also receive certifications in specific fields like weight loss or athletics, for instance. Other examples of specialties in Medical Nutrition Therapy are heart health and gastrointestinal health.
These accreditations can broaden your client base or help you find a lucrative niche, which can bolster your yearly earnings.
A career in Medical Nutrition Therapy is fulfilling on an emotional level. It can be equally fulfilling financially if you have the necessary accreditations to establish yourself in the field.
If you want to learn more about the Medical Nutrition Therapy industry and the types of qualifications and accreditations required to flourish, check out this guide on "How to Find the Best Nutritionists Near Me" from NOLA.com. Our Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists are at the top of their field in the US. More importantly, they boast impressive levels of practical experience, education, and accreditations.