There are many reasons people consume food, with the main reason for keeping your body nourished and to sustain life. Every tiny cell in your body depends on a constant supply of nutrients to function properly.

Eating also has other symbolic meanings for some people such as love, comfort, stress reduction, security, and as a reward. When was the last time you were in a bad mood and eating ice cream had helped you feel better?

Believe it or not, other foods like chocolate are proven by researchers to improve your mood and calm you down.

Despite food’s many benefits, how much of a good thing is still good? What you put into your stomach has the ability to affect your long term health, so think about that the next time you go grocery shopping or hunting for a restaurant to eat your next meal.

Those who are not medically obese can still feel the effects if they choose to consume a poor diet. These unhealthy foods can accumulate inside your body to build up toxins that can lead to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

If you want to lead a healthier lifestyle in the USA, it’s a good time to start paying attention to what you put inside your body. This is where nutrition education and the role of a nutritionist comes in.

A round pizza being eaten with a fork.
Choosing the right foods is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. (source: unsplash)

The Role of Nutritionists

Did you know that your body needs seven major types of nutrients to function properly? It’s true! Not all nutrients needed by your body can provide you with the energy that you need to get through your day, like water and fiber, but you still need these nutrients to stay alive.

These are some scientific facts that a nutritionist might study in their nutrition lessons. They need to understand what type of foods provide what type of nutrients for the body.

There are also different types of nutrients, like macronutrients which the body needs a lot of and micronutrients, which the body only requires in tiny amounts and can become fatal if taken in large doses.

As a branch of science, nutrition studies are a mix of molecular biology, biochemistry, and agricultural and food studies courses.

Some nutritionists can focus their studies on general health issues and chronic diseases related to the consumption of food, and medicines, while others choose to focus on metabolism and how metabolic pathways work inside our bodies to convert the foods we eat..

Another area of interest nutritionists can focus their nutrition courses on are how chronic diseases and health conditions can be prevented with the help of a healthy and balanced diet.

Registered Nutritionists

As a professional occupation, nutritionists can be registered or unregistered. If you meet a nutritionist who is registered with the title RD, which stands for Registered Nutritionist or RDN, which stands for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, it means he or she has completed a series of nutrition courses through an accredited university or program.

They have also passed a professional licensure exam after the completion of their studies as well as completed rigorous internships under the guidance of other registered nutritionists.

People who call themselves nutritionists but do not have the RD or RDN title next to their name can also take on the work of nutritionists. However, these people have not completed formal nutrition education where they took nutrition courses and might have studied nutrition or taken classes on nutrition by themselves.

It’s also possible that they are in the process of getting their RD title but have yet to meet the requirements like passing the licensure exam.

Plates of food sitting on a table.
The salaries of nutritionists differ in each State. (source: unsplash)

Yearly Salaries for Nutritionists

If you are about to graduate high school and are considering becoming a nutritionist for your future profession, researching the yearly salaries of nutritionists is another way you can gather more information about the profession.

On top of being in a career you are interested in, you also want to make sure you can lead a comfortable life with the wages you make to sustain and support your lifestyle.

According to 2014 data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nutritionists earned a median annual wage of $56,950 while the top ten percent of people in the profession made $79,840.

The average hourly wage of nutritionists in the country is $27.38, which is more than twice above the minimum wage in U.S. states.

Additionally, the states where professional nutritionists had the highest salaries in 2014 are California, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, and New Jersey respectively. The highest annual salary for Nutritionist in California was $72,010, in Maryland it was $66,340, in Nevada it was $65,600, in Connecticut it was $64,970, and in New Jersey, it was $64,910.

These statistics are further broken down into percentages. For example, in California, the top earners in the nutritionist profession and in the 90th percentile made an average of $85,850 per year. The bottom earners in the 10th percentile in California only made an average of $41,450 which is around half as much as the top earners.

In the state of Maryland, the top earners in the 90th percentile had average earnings of $87,000, while in Nevada, Connecticut, and New Jersey, this number was $81,820, $83,350, and $82,080 respectively. The bottom earners in the 10th percentile in the states of Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, and New Jersey are $41,220, $37,940, $44,400, and $44,660 respectively.

Future Job Prospects for Nutritionists

So you now have an understanding of how much you can make as a nutritionist working in the United States. But how are the job prospects like for nutritionists? With so many cases of underemployment these days, how easy is it to find a job after you’ve completed all your required nutrition lessons?

As it turns out, nutritionists are needed in every state according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the job opportunities for nutritionists is forecasted to increase by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022.

The top five states that are expecting the largest growth in employment for nutritionists are Texas, Utah, Colorado, Kentucky, and Arizona. In Texas, the growth rate for nutritionists jobs is expected to be 30.1%, while Utah, Colorado, Kentucky, and Arizona have job growth rates of 29.9%, 28.2%, 27.7%, and 25.5% respectively.

A bowl of salad sitting in a blue bowl.
The future job prospects for nutritionists are great in the U.S. (source: unsplash)

Where Do Nutritionists Work?

Now that you understand the future career aspects as well as yearly salaries of nutritionists, it is worth learning about the daily work tasks and location of nutritionists. After all, you can’t become a doctor if you are afraid of looking at blood, the same reason why you should not become a nurse if you do not want to spend all your days working in a hospital.

As a nutritionist, your workday involves assessing a client’s health and diet, counseling them on health-related issues, promoting healthy eating habits, keeping up with the latest nutrition science research, and many others.

The location of work for nutritionists can vary between medical facilities and long-term care facilities for clinical nutritionists. For those who are self-employed, they can choose to work at an office location of their choice or even work remotely to provide online consultation sessions via Skype.

Other locations where nutritionists can work include public health organizations, nonprofit agencies, health maintenance organizations, schools, and inside health practitioner offices.

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Former high-school tutor with a passion for science and technology, I now work in the software industry and enjoy reading and learning about all kinds of topics.