What is the Average Starting Salary for Nutritionist Roles?
Health and nutrition are at the forefront of people’s minds nowadays, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although there’s plenty of information about proper nutrition and eating habits, some people need the help of professionals for individualized plans. That’s where nutritionists come in, helping people work towards manageable goals to improve their quality of life.
If you’re considering a career as a nutritionist, knowing what to expect is essential before beginning.
This guide walks you through the basics, covering the starting salary for nutritionist roles and what to expect while on the job.
Nutritionists are professionals who work with clients to encourage positive eating habits and behaviors that promote a healthy lifestyle.
Contrary to popular belief, nutritionists don’t just help people lose weight. Many people need their advice to evaluate their diets, improve overall eating habits and build healthier approaches to consuming food.
While some people may use the terms nutritionist and dietician interchangeably, their roles, education and certification requirements differ. Dieticians train extensively, and certification is mandatory. They gain knowledge and experience through evidence-based nutrition therapy and offer nutritional counseling based on an individualized plan. Registered Dieticians must undergo board certification to work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and local communities.
Nutritionists have different credentials and need to meet specific qualifications in some US states to practice. We’ll cover which states require certifications further down the article. However, most nutritionists don’t need credentials and can still practice working in this area. They may write food blogs and work with clients individually, similarly to a personal trainer.
If you’re looking to specialize in this industry, you have many options and areas to consider. Some examples include:
- Food Service Nutritionists: You can work with companies and organizations to help plan menus and create recipes for public consumption.
- Health Coaches: Your role is to help people improve their health and wellbeing by suggesting lifestyle and eating habit changes.
- Holistic Nutritionists: This specialization allows you to work with clients and use natural alternatives to conventional medicine to heal their bodies and mind.
- Corporate Wellness Consultants: You’ll work with corporations and employers by offering evidence-based nutrition counseling to analyze food quality. Other roles include planning menus and recipes and preparing nutritional facts.
- Nutritional Therapists: Your job is to work with individuals to change their unhealthy eating habits and behaviors and suggest alternatives.
- Sports Nutritionists: Your role is to counsel and advise athletes about their nutritional habits. You may offer recommendations for optimal performance and create meal plans that match their training regimen.
- Clinical Nutritionists: This role entails working within a clinic or private practice and meeting patients with individualized plans.
- Food Safety Auditor: This role involves educating and training clients, employers, and employees regarding safe food practices and handling.
As you can see, the sky's the limit for options and specializations for nutritionists. Some people perform multiple roles simultaneously, while others prefer to specialize in one field and stick to it permanently.
Depending on what you specialize in, you can work in several places that need your expertise. Some of these places include:
- Outpatient centers
- A private practice
- Health Centers
- Universities and Colleges
- Health Clubs and Gyms
- Home Health Agencies
- Small Businesses
- Nursing Homes
- Government Entities
Before you start your career as a nutritionist, it helps to identify where you want to work and ensure that you have the qualifications needed for the position. Although some roles are relatively easy-going, others are more thorough, and you’ll have many responsibilities. Of course, the more complex your duties are, the higher the salary.
It depends. Most states don’t require a degree, nutritional education, training, licensing, or certifications to work with clients (except in the field of medical nutrition). Some states require that nutritionists receive certification and training before working with others. According to the American Nutrition Association, it is illegal to offer clients individualized nutrition counseling in the following states:
- South Dakota
The rest of the states in the country allow nutritionists to work in non-medical settings without certification or state licensure. You can apply to become a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) to boost your credentials with clients. Some nationally-recognized licensing bodies include:
- Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)
- Board Certification for Nutrition Specialists (BCNS)
- The Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB)
It’s essential to do your research and understand your state requirements before starting your career. As a rule of thumb, clients and companies are more comfortable working with nutritionists with solid credentials and some degree or certification.
The starting salary for nutritionist roles depends on the state you reside in and your employment circumstances. If you plan to work alone or as a consultant, you can set your rates.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median salary for nutritionists is $63,090 annually, amounting to $30.33 per hour. Payscale.com places the average base salary at $48,743, with the highest earners making up to $80,000 annually.
Salary.com places the average starting salary for nutritionist roles between $54,000 - $78,000. Finally, ZipRecuiter.com reports that an entry-level nutritionist earns between $26,000 - $58,000 annually.
The career outlook for nutritionists in the United States is looking up. Specifically, the BLS expects demand for this job to grow by 11% between 2020 – 2030.
Due to the upward trend, it’s the perfect time to start your career as a nutritionist in the US.
Being a nutritionist involves heavy work with people, many of whom need your emotional guidance and support. If you are an introverted person or don’t like working with people, this may not be an ideal job for you. Nutritionists must be empathetic, have strong listening and problem-solving skills, and possess emotional acumen.
Your clients need you to help them overcome nutritional obstacles, train better, and lead happier and healthier lives. Although you aren’t responsible for their happiness, your role is to help them get there through your guidance.
Now that you’re familiar with the general requirements and salary expectations for nutritionists in the U, it’s time to craft a resume that highlights your best qualities to employers and clients. Not all resumes are the same, and improper formatting can cause issues when applying through an Applicant Tracking System. With Rocket Resume, you can create a personalized nutritionist resume that clears Applicant Tracking Systems and takes minutes to complete. Our intuitive resume builder allows you to input information in no time, formatting it perfectly without extra effort from you.
You can confidently apply for jobs via online job portals or company websites with a proper nutritionist resume.
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