The amount of money you earn as a nutritionist can vary greatly depending on your specialty and on the area of the country where you practice. Careful review of your interests, as well as the educational requirements, will yield the absolute best result regarding your earning potential. There are a number of specialties and educational programs to consider, but this quick guide can assist you in narrowing down your options in order to make the decisions that best meet your specific income needs.
What is the Overall Average Salary of Nutritionists?
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, nutritionists make on average about $55,000 annually. This amount can vary significantly based on your level of education, the state you work in, your years of experience and your area of expertise. Keep in mind that careers for nutritionists are growing at a rapid rate. The OOC predicts that there will be approximately 81,000 nutritionists employed in the United States by 2022, an increase of 21% over the number employed nationwide in 2012.
What is the Starting Salary?
According the The Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for nutritionists range from about $34,000 to about $78,000 a year. That is a range of $16.34 – $37.85 per hour. Starting ranges are affected by a number of factors, but the location where you practice is a significant one. The best-paying states to practice in are Hawaii, Alaska, Maryland, Nevada and California. Maryland and California are the two highest paying states, but the others are still above the national average.
Optimize Your Earning Potential
In general, as with any other career, the higher your education level, the higher your salary. At minimum, you will need a bachelor’s degree, but may want to pursue a master’s or even a PhD, depending on your interests. However, there are some areas of expertise that may pay more starting out, even with a bachelor’s degree. Keep in mind that certification and licensure also increase your salary, no matter what your area of expertise. Here are just a few examples:
Clinical Nutritionist – $53,000
Clinical nutritionists work in hospitals, private clinics or physician’s practices. They are analytical and develop eating plans based upon lab results of clinical testing. They are likely to work with patients with severe chronic illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes.
Food Science Researcher – $58,000
This specialty area is geared more toward understanding food, than people, so if you prefer not to work directly with patients, this may be a good fit for you. You will need excellent research skills, an in depth understanding of research methodology and will also need to learn safe food handling practices.
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative – $71,000
Pharmaceutical sales is a growing field that offers tremendous growth and salary potential. A degree in nutrition provides a spring-board and sound foundation for learning all about human physiology and how drugs affect people.
Sports Nutritionist – $55,000
Sports nutritionists combine a love of sports with the growing need to counsel athletes on healthy eating and living. The goal is to optimize the athlete’s potential and performance through regular maintenance of their diets.
Veterinary Nutritionist – $60,000
Veterinary or animal nutritionists can work for veterinarian clinics, zoos, or other animal care facilities and take care of a variety of animals, or can concentrate on a specific species like race horses.
Salaries range widely for self-employed nutritionists, but significant income can be made as a consultant, through speaking engagements, through private practice, and/or writing self-help books. If you have the right personality and willingness to constantly learn, working for yourself can often be the most rewarding yet at times stressful when first starting out.
Average Salary By State
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As you can see, there is a huge range of options to consider when choosing a career as a nutritionist and the pay can be quite good. It may seem a bit overwhelming, but if you consider your needs, you can quickly narrow in your focus and make the right decisions for yourself. If you are interested in health and well-being that pays well yet doesn’t require as much schooling as other medical fields, and you want to serve others, either directly or indirectly, a career in nutrition is likely just right for you.