Career as a Nutritionist
By Diane Turner
Many of us refer to nutritionists as food experts. They help us make wise decisions when it comes to selecting the right foods for our bodies. A nutritionist is a professional whose main job is to advice clients on matters concerning food and nutrition. These professionals go by many names and in some countriesthey are known as dieticians. These two names are constantly interchanging and it is important that you know that they may come with different professional requirements. In the US, the term dietician is legally protected. This means that you need to have the required professional qualifications before you can call yourself a dietician. However, a nutritionist does not really come with such regulations and is not a legally protected term.
A nutritionist’s job description is to analyze and interpret the science of nutrition. In order to become a nutritionist, you need to be knowledgeable in the psychology of nutrition and feeding. Becoming a nutritionist therefore means that you must have some interest in not only foods but the human anatomy as well. Nutritionists are all about encouraging a healthy lifestyle and they are usually employed in various work places including: hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, schools, nursing homes and other health care facilities. Though the health care sector takes much of the nutritionist job market, it is important to note that this is aprofession that is needed in many sectors especially where food is served. You will therefore find nutritionists employed in the sports industry, food production, airline industry, modeling and entertainment. Though most nutritionists are employed, many of themare actually self employed. They work as consultants in the above and more sectors and are called in to plan meals and provide expert advice on nutrition.
Nutritionists have a lot of tasks and though most of their time is spent assessing and evaluating the nutritional value of food substances, they also help people develop meal plans especially in the hotel sector. They are also usually a major contributor when it comes to the food production industry since all packaged foods need to indicate their nutritional value and facts. Nutritionists also work with doctors to assess patients’ dietary needs and help implement the necessary diet changes for a healthier body. In schools and prisons, they play a major role in the meals and portions served. They ensure that people are well fed with rich and nutritious meals and are usually tasked with creating a food timetable. Nutritionists are also employed by individuals especially those who are looking to lose weight or trying to stay healthy for one reason or the other. For example, a nutritionist may be employed by an individual who is suffering from diabetes to help create a proper menu that will ensure the patient stays healthy. Some conditions constrict the patient from taking certain vital foods and the nutritionist can show the patient how to prepare meals that lack these nutrients yet still taste great and are balanced. In such cases, they try to supplement the nutrients that the patient can no longer consume with foods rich in other nutrients.
Such information is not common knowledge and in order to become a nutritionist, you need to be trained. Most nutritionists have a bachelor’s degree and their coursework involves supervised internship. As mentioned earlier, most states require that you become licensed before you can bear the title nutritionist. If you are interested in becoming a one, there are various degree programs you can choose from and these include a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition, dietetics, food service systems managements amongst other programs that are related to nutrition and food. Some of the subjects taught in these programs include: chemistry, biology, physiology and obviously nutrition. When it comes to certification and licensure, there are various ways to go about this. Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) is one of the best certifications. It is highly recognized and you need to have completed your bachelor’s degree which lasts four years and have undergone an internship of 900 hours. A master’s degree is also desired with a pass in the national exam issued. Besides being a CCN, you could also be a Certified Nutritional Specialist or a CNS. To become a CNS, you need to have an advanced degree either in graduate or doctorate level and 1000 hours of supervised training. To become a Certified Nutritionist or CN, you have to undergo a two year college program and passed a proctored exam. You can also become a Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC) amongst others. The certification bodies are: the Certification Board for Nutritional Specialists and this is for nutritionists who also double as doctors, pharmacists or nurses. If want to practice nutrition solely, the credentials you should be looking at are offered by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board.
Nutritionist Average Salary
The average salary for a nutritionist is $53,250 per annum or $25.60 per hour. Salaries however differ and you need to consider a lot of factors before you get into this profession as we will discuss below. That said; 10% of the lowest earners in this profession earned an average nutritionist salary of $33,330 while 10% of their major earners took home $75,480 and more. It is also important to note that though most nutritionists work full time, 20% work part-time.
Nutritionist Salary Factors and Influences
There are four main factors that affect a nutritionist’s salary and these are experience, certification, sector of employment and location.
Experience is highly important and nutritionists with several years of work experience definitely command a better pay. For example, entry level nutritionists could earn less than $30,000 while those with a year experience can earn between $35,000 and $45,000. Nutritionists who have experience within the range of one to four years take home salaries between $42,000 and $50,000 while a nutritionist with an experience of five to nine years can earn anything from $45,000 to $56,000. If you have experience of a decade or more, your average salary could be start from $47,000 and go past $80,000 in some cases.
Your qualifications also matter also and these contribute to the kind of certification you get as a nutritionist. This is because the scope of the work is different and even comes with different job titles. Certain qualifications also mean that you have several years of experience
Your employment sector matters. Hospitals pay their nutritionists salaries of about $40,000 and this could go up to $52,000. As you can see thought they are major employers their pay packages are not necessarily the best. Nutritionists employed by the government and federalsectorshould expect anything from $38,000 and this could go up to $60,000. Nutritionists could also be employed by private firms, sports teams, colleges, schools and NGO amongst others.
Location is perhaps the most significant factor since some locations pay way more than the national average while others pay much less. You therefore need to look into where you want to practice as a nutritionist. The highest paying cities for nutritionists are; San Jose, CA which pays an average salary of $77,000, Las Vegas, NV with $77,220, Orem, Utah is in third place with an average salary of $75,850 followed by Fairfield, CA with $74,390. The fifth top paying city is Sacramento, CA with their average salary of a nutritionist being $71,020. Given the fact the three of the top five paying cities are located in California;it’s safe to say that this state is one of the best employing states for nutritionists. It also has the highest number of nutritionists. However, it is also important to note that the standards of living in such a state are also much higher than average and you need to put all things into consideration.
Nutritionist Salary Compared To Related Fields
How does the salary of a nutritionist compare to other similar professions? Find out below.
Average Salary for Education Health Educators: $45,830
Average Salary for a Food Administrator: $54,000
Average Salary for a Food Service Manager: $$47,210
Average Salary of a Public Health Researcher: $76,000
Average Salary of a School Food Service Manager: $29,000
Nutritionist Salary by State
Different states pay their nutritionists differently. Below we have a look at what a nutritionist can expect to earn when he or she lives in any of the following states.
Nutritionist Salary in California: $68,700
Nutritionist Salary in New York: $59,810
Nutritionist Salary in Florida: $56,610
Nutritionist Salary in Kansas: $51,860
Nutritionist Salary in Texas: $53,170
Nutritionist Salary in Missouri: $49,590
Nutritionist salary in Illinois: $50,370
Nutritionist Salary in Georgia: $51,780
Nutritionist Salary in Ohio: $50,510
Nutritionist Salary in Oklahoma: $49,430
Nutritionist Salary in Colorado: $53,350
Nutritionist Salary in Alaska: $63,560
Nutritionist Salary in Hawaii: $65,050
NutritionistSalary in Nevada: $71,840
Nutritionist Salary in Maryland: $82,650
Nutritionist Types of Salaries
We now look at the various fields of nutrition you can specialize in and how much you can expect to earn in these fields.
Clinical Nutritionist: Average Salary: $52,000
A clinical nutritionist or CN works closely with communities and healthcare experts to assist people coping with various conditions to have a proper diet. Their work highly involves preparing food graphs and individual nutritional diets. This category of nutritionists takes home an average pay of $52,000
Food Service Nutritionist: Average Salary: $60,000
This type of nutritionists work in the food service sector and are responsible for planning meal programs on a larger scale. They work for cafeterias, restaurants, schools and hospitals. Their main duties involve preparing menus and ideal food portions as well as ensuring that these meals are well balanced. In other words they coordinate food programs. As a food service nutritionist, you can expect to take home approximately $60,000 annually.
Community Nutritionist: Average Salary: $48,000
For those who are new to the term community nutritionist, these are the nutrition experts who are employed to work in public health sectors. Their job is to spread awareness of wellness and nutrition and they work with governments and non-profit organizations. You are most likely going to see such nutritionists in campaigns and TV interviews. Theirsalaries are however far below the national average at just $48,000
Gerontological Nutritionist; Average Salary: $45,000
Gerontological nutritionists work in institutions for the aged and are sometimes even given duties in hospitals. Their main job is to ensure that this group of people have proper nutrition in accordance with their age and dietary needs. Working with the aged will give you an average salary of $45,000
Consulting Nutritionist: Average Salary: $55,460
Consultants are known to earn well and even in this profession their pay does not disappoint at $55,460. As a consulting nutritionist, you work with individuals and you can be hired on short term or long term basis. Usually these nutritionists are employed by organizations, the food industry and individuals as well. You will also see them developing diet programs and havingtheir own shows.
Sports Nutritionist: Average Salary: $73,000
As a sports nutritionist, you work with athletes and could be employed by a club, team or individual athletes. Your task is to come up with a diet plan that suits the athlete’s active lifestyle and ensure that they are getting all the right nutrients tostay in shape and avoid injuries. Sports nutritionists also travel with the team and could be fully employed, part-time employees or even consultants. The salary of a sport nutritionist is $73,000
History of Nutritionists
Nutrition as a science has an interesting history and has been in existence since 400 B.C. Many discoveries over the years have contributed to nutrition as we now know it and that includes the discovery of lime juice in reducing scurvy in 1747 as well as the discovery thatmeat and milk diets may reduceberiberi contraction. This discovery was in Japan took place in the 1880s.
In the US, 1941 was a significant year in this profession as it was when the National Research Council came up with the RDA or recommended daily allowance for a healthy diet. Since then, nutritionists have become some of the most important people in society and as of 2012 the number of jobs in the industry stood at 64,400.
Nutritionist Salary Outlook – Conclusion
Nutritionists are bound to increase over the years since now they are not just sought after by those in the medical profession but individuals as healthy living is beginning to take root in modern society. Their employment outlook is great and is expected to rise by 20% from 2010 through to 2020. As far as their salaries areconcerned, nutritionists are likely to see an increase if their increasing job prospects are anything to go by. The salary of a nutritionist is $53,250.