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While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track nutrition coaching as a career, it does look at nutritionists, dietitians, and fitness careers. All of these are growing, which means if you have an interest in nutrition, opportunities abound.
A nutrition coach is a great career for anyone interested in nutrition and diet, health goals, and working with people to build healthier habits. Of course, salary is an important consideration when choosing a career. How much you may earn as a nutrition coach depends on several factors. We’ll break some of these down to give you an idea of what to expect.
Before diving into salaries, it’s helpful to understand the differences between similar career paths. Both are similar but different to other related careers. Coaches primarily work with clients to evaluate their current choices, set goals, and take steps to achieve those goals.
Coaches educate, motivate, plan, adjust plans, and assess and follow up with their clients. A health coach, also sometimes called health and wellness coach, focuses on all areas of health, from fitness and healthy eating to stopping smoking or moderating drinking.
Nutrition coaches do similar work, but they focus more on food and diet. They may have clients looking to lose weight, for instance. A client may also come to a nutrition coach for all kinds of other goals: building better eating habits, developing a plant-based diet, resisting cravings for junk food, and so on.
It’s important to understand that the scope of practice for coaches is limited. Unlike registered dietitians, coaches cannot create a specific meal plan for clients. Coaches do not diagnose or treat medical conditions either. Because of this, they generally earn less than registered dietitians who have much more training and must be licensed.
Another term that complicates the distinction between these careers is nutritionist. It can mean more than one thing. A nutrition coach may be called a nutritionist, with the same limited scope of practice.
However, some dietitians are officially known as RDNs, or registered dietitian nutritionists. They may shorten the name to nutritionist. It’s important to be sure clients understand the distinction and the different scopes of practice.
Building a career in health and nutrition takes a lot of learning, self-promotion, and hard work. Here’s a guide on how to get started.
Average nutrition coach salaries give you a good starting point for estimating how much you can earn in this career. There is a great deal of variety in salaries based on numerous factors: employer, self-employment, geographical area, certifications, and more.
If not self-employed, nutrition coaches may work for healthcare companies, schools, insurance companies, gyms, hospitals, diet clinics, wellness centers, and large companies that offer coaching as an employee benefit.
Several different job sites list average annual salaries for nutrition coaches. There is variation in these numbers, but they give you a good idea of what to expect.
ZipRecruiter.com provides two metrics: the average salary for all nutrition coaches is $46,352, while for an online nutrition coach it is slightly higher at $47,349. Indeed.com reports a lower salary of $36,867 per year for nutrition coaches. Payscale.com reports an average annual salary of just $30,521.
ZipRecruiter also lists the highest average salaries for nutrition coaches by state, which can be useful in determining where to work:
San Mateo, CA – $57,146
Berkeley, CA – $55,209
Daly City, CA – $55, 054
Richmond, CA – $53,612
Stamford, CT – $52,205
Bellevue, WA – $52,062
San Francisco, CA – $51,613
Brooklyn, NY – $51,258
Job sites also list hourly rates for nutrition coaches. According to Indeed.com, nutrition coaches make $15.93 per hour on average across the U.S. The site also lists several other metrics based on different factors:
$13.69 per hour for coaches with less than one year of experience
$17.64 per hour for those with three to five years of experience
$21.75 per hour for coaches working for ten years or longer
$22.10 per hour in Denver, Colorado
$19.69 per hour in Cincinnati, Ohio
$14.97 per hour in Springfield, Missouri
You can go to most job sites and search on your location to find out what the average hourly and annual rates are for nutrition coaches.
An average is a useful starting point, but it’s important to understand that you could earn more or less than this. A lot of factors contribute to coaching salaries. Know these factors and you can earn more than average:
Certification. States do not require nutrition coaches to hold a certification or license. However, if you do complete a certification program that provides a recognized credential, you can command higher rates and get a better-paying job.
Specialization. Many certifying programs offer specializations, such as weight loss or weight management. With extra credentials, you can offer clients more services and get higher rates.
Working Independently. Nutrition coaching is a flexible career. You can find a job with a company or set out on your own. For the latter, you get to set your own rates. Potentially, you can earn more than as an employee, but you must be willing to do a lot of work to market your business and get new clients who will pay a higher rate.
This post discusses all the factors you need to consider when setting your own rates as an independent nutrition coach.
Averages are useful up to a point. It’s also helpful to see what actual employers are offering for nutrition coaches around the country. These real examples from Indeed.com (viewed July 2021) give you an idea of real salaries and what types of companies are hiring nutrition coaches:
Nutrition and Fitness Online Coach for Laura Lambe Fitness, $1,500 to $6,000 per month
Nutrition and Health Coach, Profile by Sanford, Rochester Minnesota, $17 to $21 per hour
Personal Trainer/Nutrition Coach, Key Athletics, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, $20 to $30 per hour
Weight Loss Counselor/Wellness Specialist/Lifestyle & Nutrition Coach, Options Medical Weight Loss, Glenview, Illinois, $40,000 to $60,000 per year
CrossFit Coach/Personal Trainer/Nutrition Coach, Second Wind Community Fitness, Washington, D.C., $25 to $75 per hour
Health Coach (Nutrition and Weight Loss), MSP Wellness, Stow, Ohio, $16 to $21 per hour
Nutrition Coach, Colfax Strong Strength and Conditioning, Denver, Colorado, $25 to $30 per hour
Nutrition coaching is a rewarding career. You get to work with people and help them get healthier. Following your passion is important, but you still need to earn a living. Consider salaries, compare to other careers, and when you’re ready, take the next step to build your dream career in coaching.
To learn more about this career, check out the ISSA’s online program to become a Nutritionist. It’s the perfect starting point for turning your passion for nutrition into a lucrative career.
By becoming an ISSA Nutritionist, you'll learn the foundations of how food fuels the body, plus step by step methods for implementing a healthy eating plan into clients' lifestyles.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dietitians and Nutritionists, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm (visited January 19, 2023).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fitness Trainers and Instructors, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm (visited January 19, 2023).
Nutritional Health Coach Salary. Zip Recruiter. (2023). Retrieved 19 January 2023, from https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Nutritional-Health-Coach-Salary.
Online Nutritional Health Coach Salary. Zip Recruiter. (2023). Retrieved 19 January 2023, from https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Online-Nutritional-Health-Coach-Salary.
Health Coach salary in United States. Indeed.com. (2023). Retrieved 19 January 2023, from https://www.indeed.com/career/health-coach/salaries?from=top_sb.
Nutrition Coach Hourly Pay | PayScale. Payscale.com. (2023). Retrieved 19 January 2023, from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Nutrition_Coach/Hourly_Rate.
Nutritional Health Coach Salary. ZipRecruiter. (2023). Retrieved 19 January 2023, from https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Nutritional-Health-Coach-Salary.