How Much Do Dietitians Make a Year?

by Aurelio Locsin

    Dietitians are helpful allies in the quest to lose weight and improve general health. As specialists on nutrition and eating, they know the calories, vitamins and minerals of each food and can recommend the best choices. About 20 percent of dietitians worked part-time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and some are self-employed.

    Dietitians earned an average $55,460 per year, as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest paid made $34,300 and the top earners made $76,400. Their average was slightly less than those of all health-care and technical occupations, which averaged $72,730 per year. However, it was higher than the mean pay for all occupations, which was an average $45,230. To make their money, nutritionists examine their clients' lifestyles and then educate them on healthy eating habits. They also develop meal plans, and give talks on diet and nutrition.

    Dietitians found the most jobs at general medical and surgical hospitals, which supplied almost one-third of the positions, according to BLS. Average yearly pay was $55,240 for dietitians who work in hospitals. With about 8 percent of the jobs, nursing care facilities ranked second for opportunities and offered mean salaries of $56,220 per year. The best paying employers were management, scientific and technical consulting services, averaging $72,580 yearly. The federal government was with an average salary of $69,020. To qualify for most jobs, dietitians need bachelor’s degrees in dietetics, foods and nutrition, or a related area. Many programs of study also include an internship to provide hands-on experience. Most states require dietitians to earn licenses, and some require only state registration or certification. Other typical qualifications include supervised training and passing an exam.

    The metropolitan area with the most jobs for dietitians in 2011 was New York City, which was also the nation’s most populous. Over 5 percent of the positions with mean wages of $59,300 per year were in New York City. The second most populous metro area, Los Angeles, was next for jobs, with almost 3 percent of the practitioners with average wages of $64,910 living there. The cities with the highest-paying jobs also had high costs of living. Bethesda, Maryland, had average yearly salaries of $94,600, followed by Santa Barbara, California, at a mean $77,880 annually.

    The growing reliance on nutritious food as a cornerstone of health and wellness is expected to spur employment for dietitians by 20 percent between 2010 and 2020. This is greater than the 14 percent predicted average for all occupations. In addition, an aging baby boomer population will look to these professionals for creating menus in nursing homes and other senior-care facilities.

    About the Author

    Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

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