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How Much Do Dietitians and Nutritionists Really Earn?

Oct 8, 2018 · 6 minutes to read

There’s a larger audience than ever for almost anything related to health and fitness. Dietitians and Nutritionists give clients the tools they need to improve their physical and mental health, which can have substantial effects on lifestyle and overall happiness. While many people enter the field to help clients, they’re often unaware of their earnings potential and what factors are likely influencing their income.

A nutritionist with ripen avocados in hands

Personalized eating plans may not be very common in the US however, as more and more people focus on becoming more health-conscious this attitude is changing rapidly. With an increase of people wanting to look after their health, the advice of Dieticians and Nutritionists are becoming more and more in demand.

If you’re already a Dietitian or Nutritionist, or if you’re considering entering the field, it’s important to have an understanding of the financial opportunities and threats that are part of working in the world of nutrition. This article will cover the financial situations a Nutritionist or Dietitian is likely to face in his or her career based on assessments of the industry and market.’

While being a Nutritionist or Dietitian can be an extremely rewarding and lucrative profession, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s often incredibly difficult. Professionals need to constantly be honing their craft and providing high-quality service while also managing the business side of the career, which includes things like insurance and marketing.

The Difference Between Dietitians and Nutritionists

It’s common for people to treat these two titles as though they were interchangeable, but that isn’t quite correct. Although these two professions involve many of the same skills and bodies of knowledge, there are important distinctions to make between them.

In the United States, the principal difference between a Nutritionist and Dietitian is simply the certification requirements involved in each profession. Generally, Nutritionists can practice professionally without facing any regulatory requirements, while Dietitians are often required to have a Bachelor’s degree in addition to specific licensing.

In practice, this distinction means that Nutritionists are likely to give more general advice with respect to food planning and overall health. By contrast, the rigorous training involved in becoming a Dietitian helps them accurately diagnose eating disorders and create meal plans to address each client’s unique situation.

How Much Do Dietitians Earn?

Your salary as a Dietitian depends on a long list of factors, especially location, experience, and specialization. Some Dietitians work for larger organizations, such as healthcare facilities, food-planning businesses, or public health and wellness agencies. Others specialize in specific ages or conditions or work in areas like research and consulting.

Average Income for Different Types of Dietitians

These are the average salaries among Dietitians involved in a variety of roles:

  • Clinical Dietitian: $63,432 (Glassdoor, 2018a)
  • Renal Dietitian: $60,000 (PayScale, 2018a)
  • Community Dietitian: $64,128 (Glassdoor, 2018b)
  • Consultant Dietitian: $63,800 (PayScale, 2018b)
  • Food Service Dietitian: $59,000 (PayScale, 2018c)
  • Research Dietitian: $64,128 (Glassdoor, 2018)

Income can also vary widely by your location. Here are a few snapshots of what you can expect to be earning in different states (Salary, 2018):

  • California: $64,094
  • Maryland: $61,694
  • Oregon: $62,726
  • US (all 50 states): $60,013

Average Income for Certified Nutritionists

There is often confusion about the difference between Dietitians and Nutritionists, so it’s difficult to find accurate information on their typical salaries. In fact, the differences in training, services provided, and certification mean that Dietitians can expect to earn significantly more money than Nutritionists.

Of course, neither of these professions have stable, predictable salaries, and both Dietitians and Nutritionists can have extremely successful careers. Just like Dietitians, some Nutritionists work in organizations rather than through private practices and may also work in clinical settings, community organizations, and governmental agencies.

Nutritionists are also extremely valuable in fields like sports and animal medicine, meaning that there are a variety of career paths that can be explored within this field. These have very specific goals, procedures, and domains, and a specialization in any can help you increase your earnings potential.

Here are some average salary figures for a Nutritionist:

  • Clinical Nutritionist: $50,000 (PayScale, 2018d)
  • Public Health Nutritionist: $53,000 (Careers in Public Health, 2018)
  • Animal Nutritionist: $60,390 (Study, 2018)
  • Nutrition Consultant: $53,250 (James, 2018)

And just like in the world of dietetics, Nutritionist salaries vary widely depending on location (nutritionED, 2018):

  • California: $71,870
  • Hawaii: $64,150
  • Connecticut: $63,820
  • US (all 50 states): $56,300

Creating a Secure Financial Future

While there’s no doubt that it’s possible to earn a great living working as a Nutritionist or Dietitian, it’s also undeniable that these professions can lead to significant fluctuations in income. These can be subject to a wide range of factors, including things like regulations, specialization, experience, and qualifications.

Another common reason why the earnings of a Dietitian or Nutritionist can be so unpredictable is due to individual clients having the ability to stop using your services at any time. If they believe they are the victim of malpractice, they are also free to sue for damages, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence in this line of work.

Many professionals assume they’ll be immune from malpractice allegations simply due to their expertise, but this isn’t always the case. It can take as little as one study contradicting your claims or advice to cause substantial financial difficulties for you and your business.

Nobody can tell when or how a serious malpractice case might come up, which is why it’s so important to invest in Professional Liability insurance. These policies will ensure that you’re protected from payouts resulting from settlements or verdicts against you, giving you the peace of mind necessary to focus on your clients’ well-being.

Restricting your risks with insurance

To ensure high-quality business practices, it’s common for customers and suppliers to require General Liability insurance for those they’re going to work with. It’s important to note that General Liability insurance and Professional Liability insurance are two different types of insurance that provide insurance protection for different types of risks.

While General Liability insurance protects you in general situations applicable to many businesses, Nutritionist Professional Liability Insurance is intended for circumstances directly related to your practice as a Dietitian or Nutritionist. This generally refers to suits like negligence and malpractice.

Insuring yourself and your company as a Dietitian or Nutritionist should be part of your business plan. It ensures that you have a form of protection in place to protect your hard-earned dollars in the event that a lawsuit was to arise while also giving you credibility when searching for new clients.

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