If you’re thinking about becoming a nutrition coach, knowing how much money you can make while working for a nutrition coaching company or yourself is crucial.
How much can you make as a nutrition coach? If you’re working as a nutrition coach for another company, the average salary is between $38,400 to $57,600 annually; however, if you’re a self-employed nutrition coach, then your salary could be between $24,000 – $72,000, depending on the number of clients you have and how much you charge.
After reading this article, you’ll learn:
- The roles and responsibilities of a nutrition coach
- What job opportunities are available to nutrition coaches
- The pay structure for nutrition coaches
- If nutrition coaches can make a full-time living
- How to make more money in nutrition coaching
Roles & Responsibilities Of A Nutrition Coach
The roles and responsibilities of a nutrition coach are to:
- Communicate regularly with clients to offer guidance and support
- Manage client expectations
- Educate clients on nutritional concepts and practices
- Coach clients to become more consistent with their healthy habits
- Offer support and advice when clients are struggling
- Set habit goals and long-term goals with clients and reevaluate them regularly
- Provide clients with meal and snack ideas that support their goals
- Measure client progress and provide constructive feedback
- Refer to other health professionals when something is outside your scope of practice
If you’re not following through on these roles and responsibilities, your client numbers will drop, and you’ll find it hard to get clients who want to work with you because there is a certain level of care expected in working with a nutrition coach.
If you’re not providing value to your clients, they have no reason to stick around or feel you’re worth their time, money, and energy.
How To Become A Nutrition Coach
To become a nutrition coach, you should:
- Learn everything you can about nutrition
- Learn how to coach
- Gain experience in your field
- Look for employment or start marketing yourself
Let’s break each of these points down further.
Learn Everything You Can About Nutrition
The first step to becoming a nutrition coach is to learn everything you can about nutrition, including calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, and how to adjust them based on client goals.
The best way to do this is by doing an undergraduate degree in nutrition or kinesiology because it will give you a well-rounded background in health and wellness.
However, if going to university isn’t an option, it will be essential for you to do your research by reading evidence-based nutrition articles and textbooks, and eventually work towards nutrition certifications (we explain the best nutrition certifications below)
Learn How To Coach
As you learn more about nutrition, you should also focus on learning how to coach. Even if you were the most educated person in the world in the world of nutrition, if you didn’t know how to help others apply this knowledge, you wouldn’t be a good nutrition coach.
Being educated in nutrition is important, but being able to make this knowledge actionable is what is going to make you a great nutrition coach.
Clients will often only have the end goal in mind, so you must help them break down their overall goal into habits and actions that will eventually get them to this goal.
Gain Experience In Your Field
The next step is to gain experience in your field, and the best ways to do this are to shadow a well-established nutrition coach and offer friends and family free coaching.
If you have the opportunity to shadow another coach, I recommend you do it because if they’re a good nutrition coach, you’ll learn valuable coaching tools, tips, and tricks that will serve you well in your own coaching.
If they’re not quite what you expected as a coach, then at the very least, you’ll learn how you would do things differently in your own coaching business.
There is also value in working for free when you’re just starting because it’s easier to talk people into being clients when they’re getting everything for free.
Free clients will serve the purpose of helping you to gain more coaching experience and working with different personalities.
As you gain more experience, you will probably realize that there are certain types of clients that you prefer working with compared to others. Liking some types of clients over others is normal, which is why many nutrition coaches have a niche.
A niche refers to working in a specific area of nutrition with a particular client type, like those who require performance nutrition, post-partum nutrition, shift work nutrition, etc.
A niche is great because it’s easier to market to the clients you want to work with, and you’ll stand out as a go-to person for that nutrition topic. However, it’s okay if you haven’t found your niche yet or prefer not to have a niche at all.
Look For Employment / Start Marketing Yourself
Once you feel confident in your understanding of nutrition and coaching and you’ve taken the time to gain experience working in your field, all that’s left to do is take the plunge into the world of nutrition coaching.
Suppose you want to work for a company. In that case, it’s time to start researching local nutrition companies, online nutrition coaching businesses, or even local detachments that may want a full-time nutrition consultant (gyms, offices, first responders).
If you want to work for yourself, it’s time to start advertising your services and what you offer. In my experience, the best way to do this is to use different social media platforms to get your name and face out.
The content you put out should provide value, entertainment, education, and, most of all, be relatable to your target audience.
Certifications Required To Become A Nutrition Coach
No certifications are required to become a nutrition coach because there are no governing bodies regarding this title; however, the more credentials you have, the better you’ll look to potential clients and the more respected you’ll be by your peers.
The following list goes from the highest level of education to the minimum amount of education that is required to become a well-respected coach. I’ve also provided the associated costs so that you can decide which level of education is worth the investment to become a successful nutrition coach.
Ph.D. In Nutrition
The highest nutrition certification you could have is a Ph.D. in nutrition, which would require extensive schooling but would be the ultimate level of education in nutrition.
While a Ph.D. in nutrition certainly isn’t required, I can guarantee that you’d understand any nutritional challenge that came your way through coaching. It would help if you still learned how to coach because nutrition information alone isn’t enough to help your clients.
A Ph.D. in nutritional sciences would cost you approximately $60,000 just for your doctorate program alone (not including undergraduate and master’s degrees that are required to get there).
It will cost you way too much money to pursue a doctorate in nutrition just to become a nutrition coach.
The only way this would be worth it is if you had a full-time job in nutrition (professor, epidemiologist, scientist) and decided to become a nutrition coach as a side hustle.
Master’s Degree In Nutrition / Registered Dietician
Next would be a Master’s Degree in Nutrition, which would set you up to become a Registered Dietician if you follow through with a dietetic internship and pass the licensing exam.
Registered Dieticians can work with those with chronic conditions and more severe health concerns because they are trained to do so and are legally protected by their governing body.
Most registered dieticians work in a clinical setting or public health, but many also choose to do their own nutrition coaching.
A master’s degree in dietetics that sets you up to be a dietician costs approximately $50,000 to $60,000 and doesn’t include the costs associated with an internship and the licensing exam. It also doesn’t factor in the cost of your bachelor’s degree, which is required to pursue a master’s in nutrition.
The appeal of becoming a registered dietician is that it is a well-respected title that allows you to work with ANY client regardless of their health issues. You’ll also be protected by a governing body as long as your standard of care is up to par.
Another benefit of becoming a registered dietician is always being able to fall back on working in a clinical setting. This would provide you with a comfortable living wage until you get to the point where you’re ready to coach full-time.
Bachelor’s Degree In Nutrition, Kinesiology, or Health & Wellness
Next would be a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition or Kinesiology, which would provide you with the foundational background in nutrition sciences and potentially exercise science. A bachelor’s degree in any of these disciplines will give you the education to do well in health and fitness.
Many people work as nutrition coaches with just their undergraduate degrees. Still, others choose to do other nutrition certifications on top of their degrees to continue their education and to stand out to clients.
A bachelor’s degree in nutrition, health sciences, or kinesiology will cost you between $14,000-$80,000, depending on which university you choose.
Nutrition Coaching Certifications
Nutrition certifications are official documents that state that you know what you’re doing in the world of nutrition.
Most certifications are designed with the expectation that you have no background in nutrition, so those who already hold a degree in nutrition should already understand most of the material provided.
When you sign up for a nutrition certification, the company will send you study materials with the material that they expect you to understand and apply. Once you feel confident in your comprehension of the material, you can write an exam to achieve the certification.
The average nutrition coaching certification will cost you between $800 to $1,400, which is the most cost-effective option to become a nutrition coach. These certifications are well worth it because they will help attract clients and help you feel more confident about your skill set.
Personal Training Certifications
It’s also valuable to have personal training certifications because exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand in helping clients to meet their goals. So a personal training certification from CSEP, NASM, or NSCA is also a huge asset.
Review my complete guide on certifications and business licenses needed by personal trainers to get further insight.
Job Opportunities As A Nutrition Coach
You could work for yourself as a nutrition coach with online clients, in-person clients, other businesses, and first responders. There are plenty of opportunities to provide seminars, workshops, and challenges.
You could also work for a company instead, which would already have a reputation built and a structure for how they market to bring in clients.
Depending on how the company runs, you could have in-person, online clients, or both. If you’re working with in-person clients, there are also likely opportunities for community outreach and seminars to local companies.
Pay Structure For Nutrition Coach
Employed Nutrition Coach
On average, nutrition coaches employed full-time (40hrs per week) make between $20-$30 per hour; per month, that would be $3,200-4,800 and annually $38,400-$57,600.
The benefit of working for another company is that your income is guaranteed. They often match your retirement saving contributions and have marketing strategies to attract clients. Additionally, they’ve already established a (hopefully positive) reputation.
In my experience, nutrition coaching companies pay you every two weeks, which should be around 80 hours of work if you’re a full-time employee.
Additionally, if you’re doing workshops, webinars, or seminars, the fees that clients or businesses pay are pocketed by the company you work for and just part of your regular salary rather than paid as additional work.
There may be companies that do it differently, but in my experience, the income from these services went directly to the company and likely just helped to pay everyone else’s salary.
Self-Employed Nutrition Coach
On average self-employed nutrition, coaches can make between $2000 – $6000 per month, which would be $24,000 – $72,000 annually just from clients alone; however, there are nutrition coaches out there who make less than this, and those who make much much more.
Ultimately, the amount of money you can make depends on the number of clients you have, which relates to your education, experience, reputation, and relationship with your clients. Aside from that, it will depend on the number of services you offer and how much you charge.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll typically charge long-term clients (with no end date) monthly. However, those just signing up for a period (3 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc) would pay upfront for coaching, so you would be paid before the service has been provided.
Most nutrition coaches will have both types of clients (long-term and short-term), so it’s important to keep track of when each client’s payment is due based on the length of time they’ve been working with you.
If you’re doing seminars, workshops, or challenges, this would be additional income for your regular coaching, which is likely paid upfront or invoiced.
The nutrition coaches with long-term and short-term clients, regular challenges, and seminars or workshops will make more than the nutrition coaches with only one service available.
The challenge of being a self-employed nutrition coach is that you have to put yourself out there and build your reputation to attract clients because if you’re going to make enough money to live the lifestyle you want, you will have to hustle.
Can You Make A Full Time Living As A Nutrition Coach?
Employed nutrition coaches can make a full-time living because they should be guaranteed 40 hours a week at $20-30/hour, which is enough to live comfortably.
Self-employed nutrition coaches can make a full-time living if they have a steady stream of clients coming in, and they’re able to charge a higher price for their services.
However, it’s common for self-employed nutrition coaches to start coaching part-time to gain experience and exposure before taking their coaching business full-time.
If you’re charging $200/month for each client and you have 30 clients, then you’re bringing in $6000 a month and $72,000 annually, which would be a comfortable amount for most people.
However, if you’re charging $100/month and you only have ten clients, then you’d only be bringing in $1000 a month and $12,000 annually, which isn’t enough to live comfortably.
The more clients you have and the more you charge, obviously, the better off you’ll be, but if you’re charging too much for the services you provide and your clients don’t feel like you’re worth it, then it won’t last for long, and you’ll be back where you started.
It’s important to be realistic about your worth when you’re running your own business.
If you’ve got years of experience and your clients are seeing the results they want, you can probably charge a bit more, but if you’re just starting out and have no credibility, then you’re better off charging a lower price until you can gain more experience.
Ways To Earn More Money As A Nutrition Coach
The tips below are for self-employed nutrition coaches because those who work for a company may not have an opportunity to make more than their salary unless they get a pay raise.
Some ways to gain exposure and make more money as a nutrition coach are to:
- Host a webinar ($50-$100/person): This is a great opportunity to dive into some niche topics like emotional eating, mindful eating, how to master meal prep, etc. which will help potential clients to see your value.
- Offer seminars to local businesses, schools, or gyms ($100-$300): Offering your services at these locations helps you to become a go-to person for these businesses or institutions and connects you with potential one-on-one clients.
- Drop off business cards at businesses (2-3 new clients/month): Getting your name out in your community is one of the best ways to connect and become the go-to person for nutrition help.
- Organize a 6, 8, or 12-week challenge ($150-$300/person): Putting together a challenge is a fun way to get people excited about working with you and reaching their goals. It can also be a more hands-off way to work with clients because the group will stay engaged amongst themselves if you’ve done a good job designing the challenge.
- Offer a meal prep cooking class ($50-$100/person): A great way to build connections is to offer a meal prep cooking class at local grocery stores, schools, or even virtually. This allows you to provide education while also allowing potential clients to connect with you on a more personal level.
- Create partnerships (5-10 new clients/month): Partnerships are a great way to connect with a large audience. For example, I recommend partnerships with FeastGood, which publishes workout nutrition content. Try reaching out to nutrition blogs that don’t already offer coaching to promote your services!
Choosing one or more of the services above can help to increase your income to help you make enough money to continue running your own business, especially when combined with short-term and long-term client coaching.
Nutrition Coaches Share Advice On Getting Started
I reached out to a handful of nutrition coaches to ask them what their advice would be to those who are just starting out in nutrition coaching; here’s what they had to say.
Riley Nadoroznick, Conviction Fitness Inc.:
“When I first started coaching nutrition, I had grandiose plans of using perfect diets to get all my clients ripped. It didn’t take long to realize that was never going to happen. Every client is different. They have different starting points, different limitations, and different end goals.
The key to success is to meet the client where they are. Every client must be coached uniquely. Sure, some clients want to look like a Greek god, but most people just want to lose a little weight and feel like themselves again. Your job is to help your client reach their goals, not yours.”
Kelsey Butler, Host of the Taste Buds Podcast:
“Nutrition coaches can make anywhere between $3,000 to $15,000 per month (and possibly even more than that). To get started, I recommend picking up as many opportunities as possible.
Many fitness and nutrition programs need part-time or contracted nutrition coaches, so take on a few at a time. This can get you lots of experience in many different areas of nutrition and help you hone in on exactly where you want to focus.
From there, you can grow your knowledge, network, and portfolio to help you build your own program or work exactly where you want to.”
Actionable Next Steps
STEP #1: The first step is to have a passion for nutrition.
Suppose you already follow many nutrition and coaching social media channels, podcasts, and blogs, and you can’t stop learning about how nutrition impacts the body, performance, and well-being. In that case, you definitely should consider becoming a nutrition coach to help share your passion.
STEP #2: Next, at the minimum, you’ll want to get certified as a nutrition coach.
My recommendation is to start with the Precision Coaching certification program. Once you’ve gone through that program, you can then decide whether you want to continue your formal education or if you want to jump straight into working with clients.
If you want to charge more for your services and work with a diverse clientele, I suggest continuing your nutrition education.
STEP #3: At the same time, if you’re learning about nutrition, you should get practical coaching experience.
You’ll be more marketable as a coach if you have some practical experience working with other coaches in the industry. This will be set up as a mentorship or internship opportunity where they teach you, and you provide ‘free work’.
They can show you their systems and processes for acquiring and onboarding clients, as well as how they manage the client’s nutrition program overall.
These are skills that go above and beyond what you can learn in the classroom setting. At this stage, don’t expect to make money. Your ‘payment’ is experience.
STEP #4: To start getting paying clients, reach out to family and friends.
While in the previous phase you were working with clients for free, now you’ll want to charge for your services.
This is so both you and your clients take the relationship seriously, and you can start building your skills around running a business.
After getting your clients results, you can ask for referrals, which can continue to grow your coaching business.
STEP #5: If running your own business seems intimidating, then start applying to nutrition jobs
Many gyms and personal training studios want to offer nutrition coaching services, but don’t have the expertise necessary.
This is where you can offer your skillset as a nutrition coach. The gym pays you, and you get to work with members of the gym on their nutrition goals.
STEP #6: Scale your hours and commitment
Some nutrition coaches only want to work part-time as a ‘side hustle’.
Other nutrition coaches want to make a full-time living. If that’s you, then you’ll want to continue to open yourself up to opportunities where you can work with more clients.
Perhaps this looks like working for multiple gyms/personal training studios, and at the same time taking on your own private clients.
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About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness, and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently splits his time between the U.K and the US.