Money isn’t everything. Having the ability to do something you love and turn it into a career is invaluable. Personal training and nutrition coaching are excellent options that offer work life balance and high income potential. With this in mind, we’ve got your insider tips for locating high paying careers in fitness and nutrition. 

Your livelihood and the ability to create the type of lifestyle you want are important when considering the career path you’d like to take. 

If fitness and wellness is your passion and you’re hoping to make all or a portion of your income in the nutrition and fitness world, keep reading.

Throughout this article, we’ll explore some of the top-paying careers in fitness and nutrition, a few of the pros (benefits) of working in the fitness and wellness space, and share a few top tips to find those high-paying opportunities.

Top Careers in Fitness and Nutrition (And Their Average Salaries)

There are many career paths you can take that will allow you to help others improve their health and wellness. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top careers in fitness. 

However, keep in mind, several variables contribute to an individual’s actual income in any career. For example, location (city and state), hours worked, employer, experience, and education can all play a significant role in an individual’s salary. 

That being said, here are a few of the top-paying careers as a fitness or nutrition educator today.

Physical Therapist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for a Physical Therapist in the U.S. is over $90,000 per year. Physical Therapists on the lower end of the income scale often make around $60,000 or less, while those on the higher end can make over $120,000 per year (1).

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

The median annual salary for a Registered Dietitian is around $63,000 per year. However, the average annual income for this Registered Dietitian can be as low as $39,840 a year and as high as $90,000 per year (2). 

Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor

The average salary for a personal trainer or group fitness trainer is around $40,000 per year.  However, their income can range anywhere from the low $20,000’s to over $75,000 per year (3).

Health Education Specialist

The annual income potential for a Health Educator can range anywhere from around $33,000 to over $101,000 per year. However, the median annual salary is around $56,000 per year (4).

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists average around $87,000 per year. Their income, however, can range from around $57,000 per year to over $120,000 per year (5).

The above list is not comprehensive of all the different opportunities in the fitness and nutrition industry. Other popular (and high-income potential) career paths you can explore within the fitness and nutrition industry are:

  • Health Coach
  • Public Health Nutritionist
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Nutritionist
  • Certified Nutrition Specialist
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Health Club Manager
  • Holistic Nutrition Specialist
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Physical Education Teacher
  • Athletic Coach
  • Strength and Conditioning Specialist
  • Gym Owner
  • Professor (Kinesiology, Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, Dietetics, Health Science, etc.)
  • Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Fitness Director
  • Food Safety Auditor

Benefits of Working in Nutrition and Fitness

Every career path has its pros and cons, including the fitness industry. But, there are many positive aspects to working in the fitness and nutrition industry. 

Free or discounted membership or services

This isn’t necessarily true of all fitness professions. However, many organizations offer their employees access to fitness-related services, equipment, and products to help them improve or maintain their own health and wellness.

Meaningful work

One of the primary reasons many individuals enter the health and wellness industry is to help other people. The work you do as a fitness and wellness pro helps people feel, move, and function better.  And, in many cases, you can save or prolong their life. 


Some days you may have a handful of paperwork to complete. Other days, you may be consulting with clients, designing exercise programs, or researching potential solutions. The point is, most jobs in the fitness and wellness industry aren’t just stuck behind a desk. Each day can look a little different, which is appealing for many people. 

Casual atmosphere

Professionalism is still of the utmost importance in the nutrition and wellness space, but many roles in the fitness industry tend to have a more relaxed, positive, and casual atmosphere. 

Tips for High Paying Opportunities in Nutrition and Fitness

When you are trying to determine which career path you’d like to take in the world of nutrition and fitness, there are a few things you’ll want to consider to ensure you’re finding and getting the higher-paying opportunities you want. 

1. Use Your Resources

Although they are not always 100% accurate, there are a variety of online resources that capture salary data for many different career paths. As you explore careers, you can often sort this data by city or state. This info can provide you an idea of what your income potential might look like for a career in a particular profession in your area.  

For example, resources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics or job boards like Indeed can provide insight that you will likely find helpful. 

When you’re ready to start working in the field, job boards like Linkedin are great places to begin your search to determine who is hiring, what the job responsibilities entail, and compare salaries.

2. Explore Different Locations

It’s not always about just choosing the right career path. The location where you choose to work can also play a significant role in the amount of money you make each year. 

For example, the annual salary for a Registered Dietitian can vary greatly from state to state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the salary for a Registered Dietitian in CA versus the salary for a Registered Dietitian in TX is a difference of about $22,000 per year.  

Income potential for a Registered Dietitian can also vary from city to city. For example, the average Registered Dietitian in Santa Rosa, CA makes about $13,000 more than a Registered Dietitian in Modesto, CA. And the average Registered Dietitian in Long Beach, CA may make about $17,000 less than a Registered Dietitian in San Francisco, CA (2). 

  1. Network

Building connections in the health and wellness space is a great way to find opportunities. It’s common for people to recommend others they know, like, and trust. Having strong relationships in the field can put you top of mind when there is a job opportunity or a referral.

3. Expand Your Skills And Education

Typically, the more you specialize in a particular niche, the more valuable you become and the more money you can command for your services. 

Expanding skills and education could be as simple as a personal trainer specializing as a health coach, nutritionist, and behavior change specialist to support clients further. This combination of education and skills allows the personal trainer to help clients holistically (i.e., improve results) and offer additional services like nutrition education (i.e., make more money). 

Another example is a health coach that specializes in the physical, nutritional, emotional, and development needs of the youth demographic. Instead of focusing on the general population or basic human nutrition, they will need additional education and skills to support the youth population. This niche may allow them to charge more for their specialized services. 

Take the next step toward a high-paying career that you really love. The world of fitness and nutrition is big, so there’s more than just one job. And, many of the careers we listed can overlap when you have a degree in exercise science. This allows you to have more than one income stream. 

By knowing what’s most important to you, you can then start taking steps in the right direction to land your dream job. First comes your passion for fitness and helping others. Then, comes your education. Regardless of the job you’re looking for, you’ll need (at minimum) a personal training certification. Most successful personal trainers also have a college degree. At Lionel University, you can get both in the same program. This means you don’t have to invest additional money on expensive certifications. Regardless of whether you’re pursuing an associates degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, at Lionel you earn multiple certifications and specializations along the way. This means you can start working on getting that dream job before graduation day. And, with the help of financial aid, earning your exercise science degree is even more of a possibility. Check out our programs and contact Lionel today


  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2021, Mar. 31). Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, 29-1123 Physical Therapists. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021, Dec. 3). U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dietitians and Nutritionists. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021, Nov.1), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fitness Trainers and Instructors. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2021, Mar. 31). Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, 21-1091 Health Education Specialists. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2021, Mar. 31). Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, 29-1122 Occupational Therapists. Accessed March 3, 2022.