What is a Dietitian

Dieticians are health care professionals who specialize in the science of food and nutrition. They often work with individuals with special dietary needs, such as diabetics and bulimics. They implement diet modifications to promote a healthier lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. For more on job description, please visit our dietitian job description page.

Work Environment

Dietitians primarily work in hospitals. Some may work in long-term care facilities, schools, physician clinics, and cafeterias. About 15% are actually self-employed, allowing them to work in their own private clinics or work in different healthcare settings on a contract basis.

Work Schedule

Dietitians tend to work regular business hours during the week, but can work weekends occasionally. Some may work part time. Self-employed dietitians have more flexible hours and can schedule accordingly.

Mean Annual Dietitian Salary

The mean annual dietitian salary is $56,170. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $34,500 and the top 10% makes over $77,590.

Dietitian Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$56,170 per year
$27.00 per hour
Top 10% Salary
$77,590 per year
$37.30 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$34,500 per year
$16.59 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201258,240

Dietitian Job Outlook and Prospects

In recent years, the public has become more aware of how eating habits affect their general health. This is especially true among the aging population where many are developing diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Obesity is also a growing problem that threatens the United States health care system. To tackle this issue, the US government is spending more on public promotion of healthy eating and utilizing the services provided by dieticians and nutritionists to diagnose, treat, and prevent health-related problems arising from diet. As these trends will inevitably continue, the number of dietitians and nutritionists should increase sharply over the upcoming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dietitians and nutritionists should expect a 21% job growth by 2022.

What Affects The Dietition Salary

Dietitians, differing from nutritionists, are, however, affected by many of the same factors regarding salary. Primarily, these factors are education, experience, and industry-specific working fields, with the primary factor being geographic location. Though some may find areas with low salaries (southeast Colorado, for instance, has an average salary of $31,000), others will find areas with an average salary of $98,000, such as in Maryland.

Dietitians are relatively newly in demand in the medical field, and as such, they have a wide swath of possible salaries; some establishing factors can be pointed to, but these themselves have great variability.

Education and Specialization

Education is a very important factor in dietitian salary. It is required to become a registered dietitian, but further education (for example, a master’s degree), leads employers to look more favorably upon the employee, and leads to a greater salary for the higher skill set.

Those with specialization in particular health concerns, such a diabetes or mental-dietary health issues (such as anorexia or bulimia) can expect to earn higher salaries, as there are fewer applicants with their specific skill set.

Experience and Position

Experience is the main factor affecting dietitian salary (though not necessarily the one leading to the highest salary). While entry-level dietitians can expect to earn around $40,000, a dietitian with over ten years’ experience can expect to earn more than $70,000.

A dietitian in an organizational setting can also see salary advances by pursuing a higher position. This, of course, will be offered to those with more experience, so the greater time spent with the organization or the greater the overall experience and reputation of the dietitian, the more likely such position offers will be. 


Dietitians who opt to work with the Federal Executive Branch can expect to make, on average, just over $69,000, while those working with insurance carriers can expect $64,700. This is higher than the average of $56,000, as well as greater than that for general medical and surgical hospitals which run just under the average. There is a decent amount of variability on the industry side, though not as much as in other fields.


The primary geographic locations for dietitian salary are in California, with the exception of Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick in Maryland; this area has an average salary of $98,500. Salaries in California range from around $73,000 to $79,000, with Nevada peeking in at $78,800. Location obviously makes a large difference in dietitian salary, by over $40,000.