Dietitian: How Much Do They Earn Per Hour?

dietitian salary per hour

Have you ever wondered, “How much does a dietitian make in an hour?” Dietitians play a crucial role in promoting health and wellness through personalized nutrition plans. Let’s delve into their hourly salaries, job responsibilities, and whether pursuing a career as a dietitian is a wise choice.

What does a dietitian do?

Dietitians play a pivotal role in guiding individuals toward optimal health and wellness through personalized dietary plans. Their responsibilities encompass a wide array of tasks aimed at improving clients’ overall nutritional intake and habits.

First and foremost, dietitians conduct thorough assessments of clients’ health histories, taking into account factors such as medical conditions, dietary restrictions, and lifestyle habits. These assessments provide crucial insights into the individual needs and preferences of each client, laying the foundation for the development of tailored meal plans.

Based on these assessments, dietitians craft customized dietary plans that align with client’s health goals, whether it be weight management, managing chronic conditions, or enhancing athletic performance. These plans are designed to optimize nutritional intake while considering clients’ personal tastes and cultural backgrounds.

In addition to meal planning, dietitians also serve as educators, imparting valuable knowledge on nutrition-related topics to their clients. They guide reading food labels, deciphering nutritional information, and making informed food choices. Moreover, they offer practical advice on managing food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities, empowering clients to navigate dietary restrictions with confidence.

Furthermore, dietitians play a crucial role in helping clients understand the impact of dietary choices on their health conditions. Whether it’s managing diabetes, hypertension, or gastrointestinal disorders, dietitians provide valuable insights into how specific foods can affect health outcomes. By equipping clients with this knowledge, dietitians empower them to make informed decisions that support their overall well-being.

Overall, dietitians serve as trusted partners in their clients’ journey toward better health, providing personalized guidance, support, and expertise every step of the way.

How much is a registered dietitian paid in an hour?

The hourly salary of a registered dietitian can vary significantly depending on several factors, including geographical location, level of experience, and type of employer. At the lower end of the spectrum, entry-level dietitians may earn around $17.79 per hour, reflecting the starting salaries in the field.

However, as dietitians gain experience and expertise, their hourly wages tend to increase. On average, dietitians earn approximately $34.27 per hour, representing the median wage for professionals in the field. Experienced dietitians with specialized skills or certifications may command even higher hourly rates, with some earning up to $53.37 per hour.

Geographical location also plays a significant role in determining a dietitian’s hourly salary. States with higher costs of living and greater demand for healthcare services, such as California, typically offer higher hourly wages for dietitians. In California, for instance, the average hourly wage for dietitians is $40.65, reflecting the competitive compensation offered in the state’s healthcare industry.

Conversely, states with lower costs of living or less demand for healthcare services may offer lower hourly rates for dietitians. In Utah, for example, the average hourly wage for dietitians is $29.73, reflecting the relative affordability of living and operating a business in the state.

In the end, a number of variables—including location, experience, and market demand—have an impact on a registered dietitian’s hourly wage. By considering these factors, dietitians can make informed decisions about their career paths and earning potential.

What factors affect how much a dietitian earns?

Several factors contribute to the variation in a dietitian’s hourly salary. 

Education and credentials:

Possession of at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, dietetics, or related field.

Advanced degrees, certifications, and specializations (e.g., Master’s degree, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) can increase earning potential.

Experience level:

Entry-level dietitians start at lower hourly rates due to limited experience.

Accumulating years of practice and expertise leads to higher wages.

Type of employer:

Positions in high-demand sectors (e.g., hospitals, outpatient care centers, private practices) offer competitive salaries.

Roles in educational institutions or government agencies may offer lower salaries.

Geographic location:

Regions with higher costs of living or greater demand for healthcare services tend to offer higher salaries.

Is a dietitian similar to a nutritionist?

While the terms “dietitian” and “nutritionist” are often used interchangeably, there are distinctions between the two roles in terms of education, credentials, and scope of practice.


A registered dietitian (RD) or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is a regulated healthcare professional who has completed specific educational and professional requirements to earn the credential. To become a registered dietitian, individuals must typically complete a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, nutrition, or a related field from an accredited institution. They then undergo supervised practice through a dietetic internship program approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) administers a national exam that prospective dietitians must pass in order to become licensed or certified.

Registered dietitians are trained to provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and dietary counseling to individuals with various health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and obesity. They work collaboratively with healthcare teams to develop comprehensive nutrition care plans tailored to each patient’s needs, considering their medical history, dietary preferences, and lifestyle factors. Dietitians may work in clinical settings, hospitals, community health organizations, schools, food service establishments, or private practice.


The term “nutritionist” is less regulated and encompasses a broader range of individuals with varying levels of education and expertise in nutrition. While some nutritionists hold advanced degrees in nutrition science, dietetics, or related fields, others may have completed shorter certificate programs or obtained credentials through non-degree pathways. Unlike registered dietitians, nutritionists may not be required to complete a supervised practice internship or pass a national examination for licensure. 

Nutritionists often focus on promoting general health and wellness through nutrition education, counseling, and lifestyle interventions. They may work in diverse settings, including public health agencies, wellness centers, fitness facilities, schools, or corporate wellness programs. While some nutritionists may specialize in specific areas such as sports nutrition, weight management, or holistic nutrition, their scope of practice may be more limited compared to registered dietitians in terms of providing medical nutrition therapy for clinical conditions. 

Key Differences

  • Education and Credentialing: Registered dietitians undergo extensive education, supervised practice, and examination to obtain licensure, whereas nutritionists may have varying levels of formal education and credentialing.
  • Scope of Practice: Dietitians are qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy and dietary counseling for clinical conditions, while nutritionists typically focus on promoting general health and wellness through nutrition education and counseling.
  • Regulatory Oversight: State licensure laws and professional standards govern the practice of dietetics, ensuring that registered dietitians adhere to strict guidelines and ethical standards. In contrast, nutritionists may operate in states with fewer regulatory requirements, leading to variability in qualifications and practice standards.

While both dietitians and nutritionists share a common goal of promoting healthy eating habits and improving overall well-being, the distinction lies in the level of education, credentialing, and scope of practice within the field of nutrition and dietetics. Individuals seeking specialized dietary advice for medical conditions or complex health concerns may benefit from consulting a registered dietitian, whereas those interested in general nutrition guidance or wellness coaching may seek the expertise of a nutritionist.

Is being a dietitian a good career option?

Let’s delve into the pros and cons:


  • Helping people: One of the most rewarding aspects of being a dietitian is the opportunity to positively impact individuals’ lives by improving their diets and overall health. Dietitians play a vital role in promoting healthy eating habits, managing chronic conditions, and enhancing the quality of life.
  • Varied career options: Dietitians enjoy a diverse range of career opportunities across various settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, community health organizations, and private practices. This versatility provides job stability and allows individuals to explore different specialties and areas of interest within the field.
  • High job growth: The demand for qualified dietitians is projected to grow rapidly, driven by increasing awareness of the importance of nutrition in preventing and managing chronic diseases. This growth translates into abundant job opportunities and promising career advancement prospects for aspiring dietitians.
  • Specialization opportunities: Dietitians can pursue specialized certifications and training in areas such as pediatric nutrition, sports dietetics, clinical nutrition, or public health. By becoming experts in niche fields, dietitians can expand their career options, attract higher-paying roles, and make a significant impact in specialized areas of practice.


  • Strict education and licensing requirements: Becoming a registered dietitian involves completing rigorous educational programs, internships, and examinations accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Additionally, maintaining licensure requires ongoing continuing education to stay abreast of the latest research and developments in the field.
  • Regulatory changes: Dietitians must stay informed about evolving nutrition regulations, guidelines, and best practices. Regulatory changes may necessitate adjustments to dietetic practice, requiring dietitians to adapt their approaches and remain compliant with industry standards.
  • Working with sick clients: Interacting with patients or clients with chronic illnesses, medical conditions, or eating disorders can be emotionally challenging. Dietitians must possess strong communication skills, empathy, and resilience to effectively support and empower individuals on their journey toward improved health and well-being.

While being a dietitian offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment, aspiring individuals should carefully consider the demands and challenges associated with the profession to make informed career decisions.

Being a dietitian is a good career

Despite the challenges, being a dietitian offers numerous rewards, including the opportunity to positively impact people’s lives, diverse career options, and high job growth. By considering the factors affecting hourly salaries and weighing the pros and cons, aspiring dietitians can make informed decisions about pursuing this fulfilling career path.


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