Reading Time: 6 minutes 30 seconds
A nutritionist helps people develop healthy eating habits. This often involves teaching clients about which food choices can help them reach their wellness goals, and which food choices can make their goals harder to reach. A nutritionist is also able to create a customized meal plan for their clients. This takes the guesswork out of which food items to consume and how much.
If you’re interested in a nutritionist job or role, you may be wondering about the pay. Is it possible to support yourself and your family by providing nutrition counseling or coaching to others? Let’s answer this question now.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median nutritionist salary as of May 2022 was $66,450 per year (1). This equates to roughly $31.95 per hour.
For comparison purposes, the median annual wage for all U.S. workers combined is around $45,760 per year. So, a nutritionist makes approximately $15,890 more every year than this amount.
It’s important to note that the BLS provides dietitian and nutritionist wage information together. What’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
Most notably, a dietitian must generally have a degree in dietetics, food and nutrition, food science, or a related field. They also typically must be licensed. A nutritionist, on the other hand, may be required to have a degree to work in this role but this isn’t always the case. They also don’t usually need a license.
Another difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist is the type of services they can provide. A dietitian can often provide more specialized services. For instance, a dietitian can provide medical nutrition therapy whereas a nutritionist cannot.
Your income as a nutritionist can vary based on a variety of factors. One is the geographic area in which you work. According to BLS data (2), the mean wage for a nutritionist in New York is $79,910 per year. Yet, the mean wage for a nutritionist in Arkansas is $56,820.
Whether you live in a city or rural area can affect your income as well. For example, the top-paying metropolitan area for a dietitian or nutritionist in May 2022 is the Vallejo, California, area. In this area, the annual mean wage is around $106,800 per year. For comparison purposes, the top-paying non-metropolitan area for a dietitian or nutritionist for the same timeframe was the northern mountain region of California. In this area, the mean annual wage was around $84,920 annually.
Your pay as a nutritionist can also vary based on the industry in which you work. As an example, a dietitian or nutritionist working in the special food service industry has a mean annual wage of $67,690 per year. The mean wage for one who works in an outpatient care center is $76,330 annually.
Keep in mind that these are means and medians. In other words, they’re not guarantees for what you’ll make. Additional factors that can impact your pay as a nutritionist include:
your level of education, such as having a degree in nutrition science or dietetics
any credentials you may have, including whether you hold a certification
your experience in a nutrition role
whether you work for someone else or are in private practice
Some people will look at the wages for a nutritionist or dietitian and think, “Great! Looks good to me!” Others may want to earn more. If you fall into the second category, one way to achieve this goal is with passive income.
Passive income refers to monies earned that don’t constantly require your time and effort. You may have to put in a bit of both upfront. However, once the initial work is done, you simply collect the cash that comes in.
Here are three passive income ideas for nutrition specialists:
As a nutritionist, you might typically provide customized meal plans for individual clients. To earn passive income, you could develop a nutrition program for a wider audience. Then make this program accessible online. Sell it for a certain amount to keep monies coming in.
Think of some of the topic areas that your clients ask about most. Maybe they want to learn more about integrative nutrition. You can develop a program around that. Or perhaps you are a holistic nutritionist. Come up with a program that follows this approach instead.
Writing and publishing a print or e-book is another option. While this one does take time, once the book is published, you get paid whenever someone purchases it to read.
You don’t even have to write the book yourself. You can hire a ghostwriter and have them put it together for you. This gives you a book to publish in your name without having to figure out what to say and how to say it.
Once the book is written, you can send it to publishers and ask them to pick it up. If you can’t find a company that wants to publish it for you, you can always self-publish on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform (3). This platform can even help you design the cover if you want.
A third way to earn passive income is to develop and sell your own nutrition products. Maybe you’re an innovator at heart and are always coming up with new ideas. This is a great way to put those ideas into action. Alternatively, you can also sell other people’s products as an affiliate. For every product of theirs that you sell, you earn a commission.
Amazon Associates offers this ability (4). You can also reach out to companies that sell the nutrition products you like best. Tell them that you’re interested in being an affiliate. Ask if they have any such program and the terms or conditions.
Love ISSA? Sign up here to become an ISSA Affiliate Partner! All you do is place your affiliate links on your website, blog, or social media pages. When customers make a purchase, you earn a commission for each valid transaction.
If you have some time to spare or are just getting started in a nutrition role, there are a few additional things you can do to increase your income. Here are several to consider.
Specialize in a specific area of nutrition. You can generally charge more for your services if you have expertise in a certain area. Athletes may pay more to work with a sports nutritionist, for example. Learning more about sports nutrition can help prepare you for this role.
Work for others in addition to providing private practice. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being in private practice. Until you get your client list where you want it, look for nutrition jobs too. This can help supplement your income in addition to gaining more experience in a nutrition role.
Hold workshops or seminars about nutrition or healthy eating. Wellness is a topic many people want to learn more about. Teach them about the role that food plays in wellness by holding a seminar or workshop. You might charge a certain amount for people to attend, boosting your income that way. Or you might allow them to attend for free, then sell your nutrition program or other products at the event.
Take your nutrition coaching business online. If you’re not already providing nutrition guidance online, this is one way to broaden your client pool. Create a website for your business and market it to your target audience. Hold coaching sessions virtually with clients around the country or world.
Offer complementary types of coaching. The foods we eat affect our health and wellness. Therefore, in addition to nutrition coaching, you could provide other types of coaching too. Two similar options are a health coach and a wellness coach. Either may be enjoyable if you have knowledge or interest in these areas.
Contract with companies as a nutrition educator. Many companies understand the value of healthy employees. Help them promote employee health by contracting as a nutrition educator. This could be offered as part of a wellness program, or you could agree to provide seminars or workshops. This is a great way to increase your income while also making important business connections.
Freelance as a nutrition writer. If you like to write or prefer a more solitary income-promoting activity, you could also work as a freelance writer. Companies in the nutrition space like to hire writers with knowledge and experience in relevant topics. Charge per article or even per word. You can make a lot of money in this type of role.
Obtain a nutrition degree. One way to set yourself apart from other nutritionists is with a college degree. This can help establish your expertise in this area. It also promotes your authority for providing science-based nutrition advice.
Earn your certification as a nutritionist. A less time-intensive way to gain authority is with certification. If you can market yourself as a certified nutrition specialist, you stand out from other nutritionists who lack this designation.
If you’re ready to become a nutritionist, the next step is to gain the knowledge and skills necessary. A nutritionist certification program is one option. And it’s an option that can have you ready for a nutrition role within a matter of months.
ISSA offers a Nutritionist Certification program. This online program is self-paced, and the certification exam is open-book. You’re also provided with a Success Coach who is dedicated to helping you become the best nutritionist you can be—which can also help increase your income in this type of role.
Dietitians and Nutritionists. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, April 25). https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291031.htm#st
Dietitians and Nutritionists. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, April 25). https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291031.htm
Self publishing. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. (n.d.). https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
Amazon.com Associates Central. Amazon Associates. (n.d.). https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/