Sports nutritionists are contracted or hired by individual athletes or sporting organisations to guide athletes in formulating and following a proper diet. Unlike regular nutritionists, who plan diets with the intention of making a person as healthy as possible, a sports nutritionist must also take into account athletic performance. Most sports dietitians carefully observe an athlete’s eating habits and test their blood before establishing at a dietary plan that optimises his or her energy levels and performance. As the earning potential for sports stars and teams increases, so does the demand for qualified sports nutritionists.
According to Salary.com, the middle 50 per cent of U.S. dietitians earn between £29,250 and £36,400 each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the average annual earnings of nutritionists as £30,537, with the median 50% earning between £24,979 and £37,108 annually. Neither BLS nor Salary.com differentiates between ordinary nutritionists and sports nutritionists. Yet another figure, calculated by the American College of Sports Science (ACSS), estimates that entry-level sports dietitians and nutritionists bring home between £11,700 and £19,500 annually.
The longer a sports nutritionist is on the job, the higher his or her salary. The average salary for nutritionists with between one and four years of working experience falls between £18,850 and £26,650, according to Payscale.com. Nutritionists with between five and 19 years experience typically earn between £20,150 and £32,500. That salary range increases even higher to £29,900 through £55,900 for dietitians and nutritionists who have been working for more than 20 years. Additionally, nutritionists with master’s degrees typically earn more than those with undergraduate academic credentials, according to the BLS.
Among the many factors that can impact a nutritionist’s income is education level. At a minimum, a bachelor’s degree is required for the vast majority of positions. Nutritionists holding a master’s degree tend to earn more than their counterparts who possess only a bachelor’s degree. Job applicants who also have degrees or certifications in areas like kinesiology or physiotherapy are sometimes eligible for higher paying positions. Nutritionists with the highest earning potential hold a doctorate degree and have conducted extensive research in the field of nutrition.
With job openings increasing at a rate of nine per cent through 2016, the immediate career outlook for dietitians and nutritionists is good, according to BLS. This rate is about as fast as the national average for all jobs in the U.S. That means that by 2016 nutritionists will hold 62,000 jobs, which is 4,900 more than there were in 2006, according to BLS estimations. This increased demand is spurred primarily by the public’s growing interest in health and nutrition. Athletes in particular are paying more attention to their dietary routine than ever before, making the role of a sports nutritionist important to sporting success.
After a few years of working, sports dietitians can advance to more lucrative positions. Some move on to administrative roles in the nutrition department of a sporting organisation or gym. Others take jobs as sales representatives for food, sports drink or nutritional supplement manufacturers. Still others return to school for a master’s or doctorate degree and remain in academia as researchers and instructors.