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What Is the Starting Salary for a Dietary Nutritionist?

Dietary nutritionists create and oversee nutritional programs for children, the elderly, and the chronically ill. Read on to find out more information about the starting salary for a nutritionist and explore factors that affect salaries for people in this career.

Starting Salary for a Nutritionist

If you're interested in entering the job market as a dietary nutritionist, you can expect to see a wide starting salary range. Entry-level nutritionists in the 10th-90th percentile earned a salary between $29,000 and $60,000 per year as of September 2019, reported PayScale.com. In contrast, nutritionists of all experience levels made between $30,000 and $73,000 annually as of November 2019. Your starting salary can depend on several factors, including your employer, the type of nutritionist certification that you earn, and your geographic location.

Important Facts About Dietary Nutritionists

Required EducationBachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, food service systems management, or clinical nutrition
On-the-job TrainingInternship
Key SkillsAnalytical, listening, organizational, problem-solving, and speaking skills; compassion

Nutritionist Salary Based on Employer

As a dietary nutritionist, you might work for hospitals, outpatient care centers, nursing care facilities, or physician offices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dietitians and nutritionists employed at hospitals and made an average yearly salary of $62,640 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). Those working at nursing care facilities made an average wage of $60,230 per year, while dietitians at outpatient care centers made higher average salaries of $66,840 annually.

Dietary nutritionists employed in the grantmaking and giving services industry could receive greater starting salaries than those who work in other sectors. This was the highest-paying industry for dietitians and nutritionists; the yearly average salary for professionals in this sector was $73,910 as of May 2018, according to the BLS. The Federal Executive Branch also offered competitive salaries, employing 2,380 nutritionists and dietitians and paying them an average yearly wage of $73,520.

Dietitian Salary Based on Certification

Your starting salary as a dietary nutritionist could depend not only on the type of position that you take but also whether you earn certification from an accredited organization. The BLS reported that those who earn certification, in addition to receiving a nutrition or dietetics bachelor's degree, should have the best job prospects. The most common certification is the Registered Dietitian (RD) designation, which is awarded by the American Dietetic Association's Commission on Dietetic Registration. To become an RD, you must earn a bachelor's degree, complete dietetic coursework, finish a supervised internship program and pass a national exam. According to PayScale.com, RDs in the 10th-90th percentile earned $41,000 to $68,000 per year as of November 2019.

Nutritionist Salary Based on Region

If you're just starting your career as a dietary nutritionist, your income will also vary according to where you work. The BLS reported that the states with the greatest number of dietitians and nutritionists were California, Texas, and New York. California offered an average yearly salary of $74,060 as of May 2018, which was well above the average salary nationwide. Texas paid workers an average income of $56,550 per year, while the average annual salary for professionals in New York was $68,050.

The state that paid nutritionists and dietitians the highest salary was California. Alaska came in second with a mean annual wage of $71,210. Other states with high mean wages included Connecticut ($69,610) and Hawaii ($69,050). Some states with low mean annual wages between $47,580 and $55,120 included Iowa, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Montana.

Dietitian Career Outlook & Job Description

Dietary nutritionists are professionals who promote healthy food choices and advise clients about diet and nutrition. They typically need a bachelor's degree, though dietetics associate's degree programs are also available to individuals who want to start their careers at two-year schools and matriculate to 4-year colleges or universities. Their job includes the following:

  • Determine a client's dietary restrictions and needs
  • Develop meal plans
  • Counsel clients
  • Document and write reports about client's progress
  • Stay up-to-date with nutritional research

The BLS expects a much-faster-than-average employment growth for dietitians and nutritionists over the 2018-2028 decade. An 11% uptick in employment is expected, which could result in 8,000 new jobs by 2028.