Dietitian Salary

The link between food and health has been acknowledged since antiquity and has undergone resurgence as of late. With medical care costs spinning dangerously out of control, preventative medicine is seen as a way to reduce costs. More and more insurers and health providers are looking for preventative health solutions for their patients and clients. It is cheaper to prevent disease and illness than it is to cure them. In fact, the number of food-related illnesses is on the rise, from diabetes and gout to food-borne viruses. This is good news for those studying to become dietitians, as employment demand in this sector looks poised to grow rapidly. Furthermore, the average dietitian salary makes the up-front costs of education worthwhile in the long run.

Dietitians are defined by the degree they have received and the type of license they hold. Like other medical professionals, dietitians must be licensed by a state-approved association to practice their trade. These associations uphold a standard of professional knowledge that must be proved through training, testing, and professional experience. The licensing process is rigorous enough to ensure patients that their dietitian has the knowledge and skills necessary to keep them healthy. Dietitians usually attain a bachelorís degree in food science and dietetics or a masterís degree in one of these disciplines. Other job titles in the field of food science include nutritionist, dietetic technician, and health educator.

The latest statistics published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States government entity responsible for studying employment, salary, and working conditions, reports the median annual wage of both dietitians and nutritionists is a little over $50,000 a year. This is well over the average salary of all professions. There is also room for salary growth over the course of a career of a dietitian or nutritionist; top earners today command well over $70,000 a year. There is a direct correlation between experience and continuing education and salary increases in the trade. Consultants, for instance work with the food industry to study new food products. These dietitians often have some specialized knowledge gained by adding a degree during their professional career. These job titles usually come with an increase in salary above what the typical dietitian makes.

Most dietitians are employed by hospitals. They are also employed in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, planning meals for vulnerable communities. Another strong sector of employment is the government and its educational programs. Many such programs offer school meals to low-income students and these meals are often planned by trained dietitians. Many other dietitians are employed in the private business sector. Salaries differ across these different sectors, but private sector careers generally pay the highest salaries.

Another major factor in salary differentials is the specialty of the individual dietitian. Clinical dietitians work with individual patients on the way their diet affects their health. Patients with diabetes, gout, or renal problems may be sent to a dietitian for a consultation. Management dietitians oversee the nutritional programs for institutions and large food service facilities. They may also consult with private companies to improve the nutritional options being offered to their employees. Targeting one of these areas is a smart move when pursuing an education. It is also advisable to add a specialty through a certificate course when already embarked on a career as a dietitian. Special skills usually translate into a salary hike above and beyond the average for those in your profession.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014