How Much Does a Dietitian Make?
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- Dietitians have a broad earning spectrum that can reach six figures.
- Geographic location plays a role in the earning potential of dietitians and nutritionists.
- Dietitians with advanced degrees and in leadership roles tend to earn higher salaries.
Over roughly the next decade, roles for dietitians could expand by nearly 8,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 11% job growth for these professionals between 2020 and 2030, indicating an expanded need for skilled and certified dietitians. For students and professionals interested in a healthcare and wellness field, dietetics and nutrition are emerging markets worth considering.
Not only is the dietetics field growing, but many professional roles come with relatively strong earning potential. Throughout this page, BestColleges breaks down job data and explores how much dietitians can make and how various roles and geographic locations can impact earning potential. Whether you're graduating from a nutritional science program or an online master's in dietetics, career opportunities abound. Keep reading to learn how much you can make as a dietitian and nutrition professional.
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What Is the Average Dietitian Salary?
BLS data reveals that the median annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists exceeds $61,000, as of May 2021. That said, the earning spectrum for these professionals is broad. BLS wage numbers show that the lowest 10% earn less than $42,530 per year, while the top 10% exceed $93,640 annually.
Professionals striving to enhance their earning potential should also consider essential elements like experience, location, level of education, and specialized skills. Keep reading as we break down job data for dietitians.
Job Growth for Dietitians
According to the BLS, the number of jobs for dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030. In addition to that growth — roughly 7,800 new jobs — dietitians and nutritionists are projected to see nearly 6,000 annual job openings, on average, during that time frame.
As a result, this health and wellness career is projected to grow faster than the national average for all U.S. occupations, according to the BLS.
How Much Do Dietitians Make by State?
While national numbers can be useful to indicate significant trends in the job market for dietitians, state and regionally based numbers offer essential metrics to determine how well a dietitian degree and certifications travel across state lines.
For example, wellness-minded California employs the largest number of dietitians, while Massachusetts is home to the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in the field.
And just as job numbers fluctuate between states, annual average wages do as well. Mirroring the sky-high cost of living, dietitians in California-based metropolitan areas make up the 10 highest-paying areas in the country.
Keep reading as we highlight where dietitians can earn the highest salaries.
|State||Annual Mean Wage|
|District of Columbia||$80,600|
Data from the BLS
Where Can I Make the Most Money as a Dietitian?
Highest-Paying States for Dietitians
It is no surprise that states — and Washington, D.C. — with a relatively high cost of living offer the highest annual salaries for dietitians.
Mirroring both astronomically high costs for housing and higher wages in similar health professions, locations like California, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii top the list of states providing the highest annual mean salaries.
|State||Annual Mean Salary|
|District of Columbia||$80,600|
Data from the BLS
Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Dietitians
California may top the list of states providing the highest mean wages for dietitians, but a closer look at metropolitan areas reveals that salaries can fluctuate dramatically within state lines.
While the annual mean wage for California is just over $82,000 per year, jobs in the Greater San Francisco area hover around $100,000. It is worth noting that the highest-paying metro areas for dietitians are in California.
|Metropolitan Area||Annual Mean Salary|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.||$103,240|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.||$97,490|
|Santa Rosa, Calif.||$87,950|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.||$86,110|
Data from the BLS
Highest-Paying Nonmetropolitan Areas for Dietitians
The highest-paying nonmetropolitan areas for dietitians provide some interesting cases. While areas in California and Hawaii make sense as dietitian wages mirror high statewide cost-of-living and compensation trends, a region like Western Wyoming is a bit more curious. But Wyoming census numbers show that the state is growing faster than the national average.
|Nonmetropolitan Area||Annual Mean Salary|
|North Coast of California||$81,850|
|North Valley, California||$77,330|
Data from the BLS
Highest-Paying Industries for Dietitians
Just as wages can vary between states, earning potential for dietitians can fluctuate significantly between industries. Even though a dietitian may hold professional credentials, not all jobs pay equally.
As one of the top-earning industries in the United States, it makes sense that the pharmaceutical industry offers top compensation for dietitians. Other top-paying industries include merchant wholesalers, home health services, and government jobs.
|Industry||Annual Mean Salary|
|Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing||$93,920|
|Home Health Care Services||$79,110|
|Federal Executive Branch||$78,830|
|Scientific Research and Development Services||$74,990|
Data from the BLS
How Can I Increase My Salary as a Dietitian?
Complete a Degree Program
While a bachelor's in dietetics can lead to professional certification and jumpstart a career in the dietetics and nutrition field, students pursuing a master's in dietetics may find enhanced career options and expanded earning potential.
Additionally, while a bachelor's degree program provides foundational knowledge in the field, a master's degree program offers specialized training and can also prepare individuals for leadership roles in the field.
Alongside standard master's degree requirements, many programs offer academic concentrations in areas including food science, culinary entrepreneurship, professional practice, and pediatric nutrition.
As we highlighted before, not all industries pay dietitians equally. Some of the top-paying jobs exist in the pharmaceutical, home health, and research industries. As a result, students pursuing a bachelor's or master's in dietetics and nutrition should tailor their studies to mirror the technical requirements and professional needs of those industries.
Degree-seekers can also tackle professional and graduate certificate programs to further hone their skills while expanding their competitiveness in the job market.
Relocation is often a fundamental factor in growing your earning potential. That said, some states boast higher salaries while simultaneously having high costs of living.
Some states for top-earning dietitians include California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. When deciding to move to enhance career options, dietitians and nutritionists should consider the best and worst states for career moves.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dietitian Salary
Which dietitians get paid the most?
The dietitians who get paid the most typically have strong skills, professional certifications, and specialized knowledge. Additionally, dietitians with a master's degree often get paid the most.
While dietetics practitioners can earn a solid salary, those in leadership and managerial roles tend to secure maximum compensation.
Location can also play a role in how much a dietitian can make. Individuals in states like California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Rhode Island top the list for dietitian salaries. These professionals can also expand career options and earning potential through graduate and professional certificate programs.
What are the highest-paying dietitian specialties?
According to the BLS, dietitians and nutritionists earn a median annual salary of $61,650, as of May 2021. That said, the top 10% of earners, often in leadership roles within lucrative industries, make more than $93,000 per year. Some of the top-earning areas include the pharmaceutical, home health, and research industries.
In addition to foundational training, dietitians can offer their skills in specialized areas including oncology, pediatrics, sports, and clinical dietetics. Some popular jobs include food science research, public health nutritionist, and corporate wellness consultant.
Will a master’s in nutrition get me a higher salary?
While compensation can vary between jobs and industries, earning a master's degree in nutrition or dietetics is a popular way for professionals to expand earning potential and career options.
In addition to core knowledge, a master's degree program often allows students to hone specialized skills while simultaneously preparing them for leadership positions.
For many professionals, completing a master's degree program may feel like a daunting venture. But online degrees often provide an affordable academic option while providing the flexibility needed to keep up with personal and professional obligations.
Many online programs utilize an asynchronous delivery that allows students to complete coursework at their own pace, at any time, from any location.
What skills are needed for a high-paying dietitian job?
Determining the skills needed for some of the highest-paying dietitian jobs can vary dramatically between industries and specific roles. Top-earning dietitians often have extensive professional experience, specialized knowledge, and leadership skills.
Additionally, successful dietitians often have strong decision-making and critical-thinking skills. Standout professionals typically have strong social awareness, analytical, and organizational skills. Top-earning dietitians also keep up with trends and research in the field.
What are the top-paying work environments for dietitians?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the top areas for dietitians include the pharmaceutical, home health, and research industries.
Additionally, many top earners go into private practice and manage their own business. Entrepreneurial dietitians can tackle roles as consultants, content creators, and in online coaching or counseling.
As a result, dietitians have access to a variety of work environments. Some of these professionals work at home while creating online content, while others conduct research for pharmaceutical companies.