Exploring a Career in Nutrition and Dietetics

This is an excellent time to earn your nutrition science degree and enter the workforce. With at least a bachelor’s degree and the proper licensure, you can begin assisting organizations in nutrition science related research or help individuals make positive dietary choices that can give them the opportunity to lead longer, healthier lives.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a 16% growth in employment for nutritionists and dietitians from 2014-2024. This career outlook projection is 9% higher than the estimated employment growth for all occupations over the same time period. The employment growth is attributed to people becoming more health-conscious and an aging baby-boomer population. Additionally, society has been making greater efforts to combat obesity in both children and adults. With these concerns in mind, it is no wonder that the need for more research regarding nutrients’ effect on the body has increased and that the demand for nutritionists and dietitians is continuously growing.

Nutritionist and Dietitian Salary Information

Before we begin, it is important to note that there is a difference between nutritionists and dietitians. While each career is responsible for distinct tasks, much of the data pertaining to the salaries are similar. This is why we are using the BLS’s combined salary information for this guide. There are several factors that play into your potential salary such as level of education, industry, experience, and location of where you work.

The BLS reported that most salaries for nutritionists and dietitians ranged from $35,240 – $80,950, with the median being $57,910 in 2015. With such a large range to account for, it makes sense that your education and where you choose to work and live can have a great impact on your salary.

There is no specific correlation provided by the BLS between salary and education as it pertains to the field of nutrition science. However the 2015, BLS graph below illustrates that obtaining higher levels of education typically translates into higher weekly earnings and lower unemployment rates for almost all occupations nation-wide.

earnings and unemployment by educational level 2015

Using the information that the BLS has provided, nutritionists and dietitians earn about as much as what is reported in the “Bachelor’s degree” line of this bar graph. Therefore if you plan on pursuing education beyond a bachelor’s degree, you may have a greater chance of exceeding the BLS’s reported earnings for this field.

Salary By Industry

As we mentioned, the industry you work in can play a large role in determining what kind of salary you can expect to receive. Nutritionists and dietitians can work in a plethora of industries like government, education, research, consultations/private practices, healthcare, corporations, and the list goes on. The following is a list of the on-average, highest paying industries (according the BLS) for nutritionists and dietitians as of 2015:

  • Grant-Making and Giving Services – $73,100
  • Grocery and Related Product Merchant Wholesalers – $70,920
  • Federal Executive Branch – $70,370
  • Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations – $70,060
  • Home Health Care Services –

It is always nice to make as much as you possibly can, but it is also important to simply have a job. The chart below showcases the industries and the average salaries that have the highest concentration of dietitians and nutritionists.

nsd highest employment industries with average salaries

As you can see, many nutritionists and dietitians work in hospitals, outpatient centers, or nursing care facilities, and they are referred to as clinical nutritionists and clinical dietitians. Most non-clinical professionals in this field are referred to as community dietitians and community nutritionists, and they work in industries such as health maintenance organizations (HMOs), non-profits, and government agencies.

Salary By Location

No matter which industry you want to work in as a nutrition scientist, it is always important to do your research and make sure that where you live can support your career goals. Luckily nutritionists and dietitians are needed all over the country, but there are several areas that hire and/or pay more than other states, cities, or towns. For example, California is known for having a health-conscious culture. As a result, you’ll see that the BLS lists California as both the state with the highest employment level and highest pay in the country. Even if a state does not necessarily have a reputation for focusing on healthy lifestyle choices, does not mean that they do not value the contributions made by the nutrition science field. Other high-employment level states are illustrated in the darkest shade of green in the map below.

BLS employment of dietitians and nutritionists by state 2015

The top states and average annual salaries from the above map are as follows:

  • California: $72,320
  • New York: $62,960
  • Texas: $57,570
  • Florida: $55,920
  • Pennsylvania: $54,790

Pursuing your career with a job that pays is great, but having a a job that pays well is even better. We’ve mentioned that your education, experience, and industry are factors that contribute to your salary. However, where you live can have the largest impact on your salary potential. These are the top five highest paying states as listed by the BLS in 2015.

  1. California: $72,320
  2. Alaska: $67,760
  3. New Jersey: $65,430
  4. Hawaii: $65,150
  5. Oregon: $65,090

Do you prefer living the city life with all of the hustle and bustle, or slowing down in a less-populated area? There’s no wrong answer! If you’re unsure, the chart below compares the average salaries of the highest paying cities (metropolitan) versus the highest paying suburban/rural areas (nonmetropolitan) as of 2015.

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nutritionists and Dietitians Top Paying Nonmetropolitan Areas for Nutritionists and Dietitians
  1. Amarillo, TX: $105,390
  2. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $87,010
  3. Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA: $83,760
  4. San Rafael, CA: $78,490
  5. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA: $77,410
  1. Big Thicket Region of Texas: $74,040
  2. Central New Hampshire: $65,510
  3. Southeast Minnesota: $65,250
  4. Hawaii/Maui/Kauai: $64,580
  5. Northwest Iowa: $62,980

Source: BLS Occupational Employment Statistics, Dietitians and Nutritionists’ Geographic Profile – 2015

Nutritionists and dietitians are among some of the fastest growing careers in the nation. Whether you are looking into online nutrition science degree programs or entering the professional workforce, you can have an abundance of career and salary opportunities to look forward to. Nutrition science is one of the few fields with the potential for a great paycheck and the ability to allow you to help our society make smarter, healthier choices. Check out our guide, 100 Must-Bookmark Sites on Nutrition Science and explore the rest of our website to learn more about how you can start your career in the nutritional sciences.

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