How Much Does a Nutrition Specialist Make?

Nutritionists may earn wages working for both public and private institutions.
Nutritionists may earn wages working for both public and private institutions. (Image: Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Nutritionists are specialists who assist clients with planning healthy menus, including preparing and overseeing the serving of the meals. Depending on the case, a nutrition specialist might design a diet to meet the needs of clients with specific issues or illnesses, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The amount of money a nutrition specialist makes depends on her level of experience and the type of employer for which she works.


The Bureau of Labor statistics reports that as of May 2009, nutrition specialists in the United States earned an average of $53,230 annually. On the salary scale, nutrition specialists in the 10th percentile earned less than $33,230 a year, and those in the 25th percentile earned less than $42,400. The median salary was $52,150; more experienced nutrition specialists earned over $63,460 in the 75th percentile and over $74,690 in the 90th percentile.


In both general medical and surgical hospitals and nursing care facilities, the average salary of a nutrition specialist was over $53,000, according to 2009 data reported by the bureau, while in outpatient care centers the average was slightly higher at $54,440. The local government employed nutrition specialists for an average salary of $49,150, and those working in the industry of special food services earned an average of $49,340 a year.


The bureau states that as of 2009, Maryland was the state with the highest salary average in the nation for nutrition specialists at $64,600. Nevada and California followed with respective averages of $63,860 and $63,610. Nutrition specialists living in San Jose, California earned the highest salary average in the country at $80,470 a year, followed by those living in the Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg area of Maryland at an average of $79,610.


Earning certification, such as the Registered Dietitian credential offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, is one of the best ways for nutrition specialists to advance their careers and boost wages. Depending on the facility a nutrition specialist works in, she may be promoted to managerial positions such as associate director or director. Another option for nutrition specialists is to seek work from the federal executive branch, where the average salary was $68,390 as of 2009, or to move into the industry of management, scientific and technical consulting services, where the bureau reports the average salary was $75,100.

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