10 Nutrition Jobs to Consider
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- The field of nutrition offers numerous career paths.
- Many jobs require a bachelor's degree in dietetics, nutrition, or a related field.
- A food technologist provides one of the highest-paying positions.
Individuals with a passion for health and wellness may find a career in nutrition very rewarding. More healthcare practitioners realize nutrition's effects on health and disease prevention. Professionals in the field can help clients set up dietary plans and reach their health goals while others work in corporate settings, developing wellness programs.
Entry-level jobs can get you started in your career, gaining needed experience while learning the basics. Getting career advice in college can also help point you in one of this field's many career paths.
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How to Enter the Nutrition Field
There are numerous pathways for those pursuing a career in nutrition. Some may pursue a role as a clinical nutritionist, while others get excited about a career as a health coach. The following represents a common path for a professional career in the field.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree: While you can gain entrance into the nutritional field with an associate degree or vocational training, for those with long-term career goals, a minimum education requirement is earning a bachelor's degree in nutritional science, dietetics, or a related field. Students may also earn an online bachelor's in nutrition from an accredited program. Consider a Master's Degree: Earning a master's in nutrition can prepare graduates for roles as registered dietitians (RD) and researchers. As of 2024, prospective RDs need a master's in nutrition from an accredited program to sit for the required exam. Gain Supervised Practical Experience: Earning an RD credential also requires 1,200 hours of supervised practical experience. Students may complete this requirement through a co-op or internship. There are several different types of internships that one can pursue, whether it be during the academic year or summer break. Learning the best approach for applying to an internship is important to get the best possible outcome. Earn Certification: Earning your registered dietitian or certified nutrition specialist certifications increases your earning potential and career advancement opportunities. Many roles require certification or licensing.
10 Types of Nutrition Jobs
Nutritional or dietary aides typically work in healthcare settings, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. They may help prepare food and make sure patients get the right meals. Their tasks vary, depending on the employer, with some delivering meals to patients' rooms or the dining hall and then cleaning up following service.
These aides may work under nutritionists or dietitians. Most employers require a high school diploma or GED. Nutritional aides who earn an associate degree or receive training in a vocational school may qualify for dietary technician positions.
- Median Salary: $61,650
- Job Outlook: 11%
- Licenses/Certifications: Some states require licensure or certification. Certifications include the certified clinical nutritionist (CCN) and the certified nutrition specialist (CNS).
Nutritionists advise people on their food choices and how they affect their health. They encourage healthy lifestyles and may support individuals, communities, sports professionals, and workforces in making positive, practical changes to their diet. Nutritionists may specialize in numerous fields, such as:
- Sports nutrition
- Pediatric nutrition
- Weight management nutrition
- Clinical nutrition
- Integrative nutrition
- Holistic nutrition;
These professionals work in healthcare facilities, corporations, food manufacturers, and athletic departments. Becoming a nutritionist requires earning a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition or a related field. The CNS credential requires a master's degree.
While some states require licensure, others do not possess any requirements for nutritional counselors. Nutritionists wanting to work in medical offices or hospitals typically require certification.
- Average Salary: $49,370
- Job Outlook: 17%
- Licenses/Certifications: A few of the many certifications include the national board certified health and wellness coach credential and the ACE health coach certification.
A health coach shares their passion for health and wellness by helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle. They empower clients to create their own personalized health-focused plans that include goals and timelines. They do not design exercise plans or give nutritional advice.
Health coaches may support private clientele, establish workplace wellness programs, or work in wellness centers and medical offices. They typically take a holistic approach, examining all areas of a client's life.
Employers may require an associate degree for entry-level positions. Becoming a certified health coach may require a bachelor's degree in nutrition, fitness, or health and wellness. While states do not require licensure, certification may demonstrate a coach's knowledge and proficiency.
- Median Salary: $61,650
- Job Outlook: 11%
- Licenses/Certifications: Most states require licensure. Employers may prefer the registered dietitian (RD) or the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) credential.
Dietitians usually work in clinical settings, treating and managing disease through nutrition and dietary plans. For example, they may help people with diabetes or heart disease by setting up a specialized diet and monitoring the effects. They may also use nutritional assessments and diagnostic laboratory testing in their work.
Dietitians work in hospitals, healthcare facilities, government agencies, community and public health organizations, education, and research. Many states require licensure. To qualify, most require a bachelor's or graduate degree in nutrition and dietetics or a related field, supervised clinical hours, and passing an exam.
Some employers prefer those with RD or RDN credentials. A registered dietitian's salary offers one of the highest earnings in the field.
Nutrition or dietetic assistants work as part of the dietetic healthcare team, often working under the direction of the dietitian or nutritionist. They may work as nutritional care specialists in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. School nutrition assistants may work in school cafeterias under the supervision of the school nutrition manager.
These assistants may help prepare and serve meals and assist patients and residents with meal selections. Employers require at least a high school diploma or GED. For positions with greater responsibility, employers may prefer a candidate with an associate degree in nutrition assistant or food and nutrition. This degree may offer an educational stepping stone to a registered dietitian nutritionist.
- Median Salary: $60,600
- Job Outlook: 17%
- Licenses/Certifications: Some employers require or prefer certification. Possible credentials include the certified health education specialist or the certified diabetes care and education specialist.
Health educators or health education specialists teach individuals and communities how to live healthier lives. They may develop programs that promote wellness and introduce alternatives to unhealthy choices. Subjects may include managing diseases or conditions through healthy life choices and avoiding life-threatening or debilitating conditions through good habits.
Health educators may work in healthcare facilities, nonprofit organizations, and public health departments. They can also create workplace programs that incentivize employees to improve or maintain their health. These professionals typically hold a bachelor's in health education or health promotion. Some positions require a master's in health education.
- Median Salary: $78,340
- Job Outlook: 9%
- Licenses/Certifications: While not required by state or federal laws, applicants may stand out by earning the certified food scientist certification.
Food technologists use their knowledge in microbiology, chemistry, and other sciences to analyze food content and determine better methods for storing, processing, preserving, and distributing food. They may also ensure food manufacturers comply with government standards. These technologists may write product specifications and collaborate with quality assurance.
The majority of these professionals work in manufacturing. Some food technologists also work in the management of companies and professional, scientific, and technical services. Most employers require a bachelor's in food science or a related field. Required technology skills may include analytical and database query software.
- Median Salary: $69,510
- Job Outlook: 9%
- Licenses/Certifications: None required; bachelor's degree in English or a related field often preferred
Freelance writers with a background in nutrition, health and wellness, or food and diet may segue into a role as a nutrition writer. These writers may write articles for newspapers, magazines, or online content.
Some writers focus on nutritional supplements or diet. Others develop a brand and identity by writing nutrition blogs, such as the benefits of plant-based eating or healthy meal recipes.
These writers typically hold a bachelor's degree in English, communications, journalism, or nutrition. Nutrition writers can increase their reach by building a solid portfolio with a collection of articles in their desired niche.
Food Safety Auditor
- Average Salary: $59,540
- Job Outlook: 7%
- Licenses/Certifications: Though not required, certifications such as thecertified in food safety supplier audits are highly valued.
Food safety auditors inspect manufacturing facilities, such as food processing and meat packing plants. They ensure the facility is operating within its sanitation and HACCP plans. They may also check restaurants, farms, and other food-related establishments, ensuring they are following mandated safe-food guidelines.
Food safety auditors may work for the government in the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. These professionals may also work as import auditors at points of entry into the U.S. and for private manufacturing firms.
Most positions require a bachelor's degree or job-related experience in the food industry. Potential undergraduate majors include food science, food technology, agriculture, and microbiology.
- Median Salary: $29,520
- Job Outlook: 7%
- Licenses/Certifications: Although not required, some employers prefer candidates with theregistered dietetic technician credential (DTR).
Dietetic technicians may work under the supervision of a dietitian. They assist with food service, plan and prepare meals, and instruct patients and individuals on the principles of food and nutrition. They may analyze menus and recipes and monitor patients or residents to determine their food tolerance.
These professionals may work in healthcare facilities, government agencies, schools, prisons, and public health centers. Most positions require an associate degree in nutrition and dietetics technician. According to PayScale, those with a DTR credential earn an average yearly salary of $48,900.
Salaries for professionals in nutrition vary widely, based on the position, employer, location, and level of experience and education. Nutritional and dietetic assistants tend to find some of the lowest pay in the field. PayScale reports that average wages come to about $25,000 as of July 2022.
Registered dietitians receive some of the highest salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median salaries range from $42,530-$93,640 as of May 2021.
How to Find Nutrition Jobs
Job searchers can find positions in nutrition in numerous online resources. These include sites dedicated to job postings in nutrition and websites for healthcare facilities and government agencies. For example, Kaiser Permanente has a career page for dietitians and nutrition services, with 83 jobs posted as of August 2022.
Job boards specific to nutrition include EatRight Careers and NutritionJobs. Some of the best job search sites for landing a job after college include LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor. Virtual career fairs also offer opportunities to network and meet potential employers.
Additionally, many online college career services offer students remote support, helping them find employers and improving their resumes and online profiles. Consider networking with active online or in-person professionals in nutrition, including mentoring groups, alumni, and social media platforms.
Professional Nutrition Organizations
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the largest organization of dietetics and nutrition practitioners worldwide. Founded in 1917, today, it represents over 112,000 credentialed practitioners.
The American Society for Nutrition
The American Society for Nutrition publishes The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and several other publications. Established in 1928, they are a leading association advancing nutrition research.
The American Nutrition Association
The American Nutrition Association is a nonprofit organization committed to educating, connecting, and certifying nutrition professionals. Its core value is using personalized nutrition to optimize health and prevent disease.
The National Association for Nutrition Professionals
The National Association for Nutrition Professionals offers resources for holistic-minded professionals. The nonprofit business league advocates on behalf of holistically trained nutrition and food professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition Jobs
According to PayScale, clinical nutrition managers earn an average yearly salary of $66,400 as of July 2022, making this one of the top paying positions in nutrition. Those with 10-19 years of experience may earn an average wage of $74,000. Clinical nutrition managers require at least a bachelor's in nutrition or a related field.
Food scientists also see higher than average earnings, with PayScale reporting an average wage of $68,300 as of July 2022. The top 10% of these professionals make, on average, $95,000. Food scientists typically require at minimum a bachelor's in food science or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates with a master's.
Many people searching for careers in nutrition choose the role of a registered dietitian. These professionals must meet strict credentialing standards and are one of the few professionals in the field able to provide medical nutrition therapy. This enables them to assess a patient's condition and make dietary recommendations based on that assessment.
Other popular careers include health coaches, sports nutritionists, certified nutrition specialists, and holistic nutritionists. Holistic nutrition takes a broader view of a person's health. These professionals may qualify for a certified nutrition professional certification by earning a bachelor's in a nutrition-related field, completing 1,200 hours of supervised practice, and passing an exam.
You can earn an online degree in nutrition. Online degrees offer the same rigorous instruction as their on-campus counterparts. Some programs offer specializations in sports nutrition, integrative nutrition, and food and nutrition management.
Graduates may enter the workforce as nutritionists, food technologists, and corporate wellness consultants. Some continue their education, earning a master's in nutrition.
The requirements for using the term nutritionist vary by state, so check your local laws. Some of the best online nutrition programs offer self-paced classes that offer greater flexibility.
Salaries for those in the field of nutrition vary dramatically based on the position, employer, and location. For example, the BLS reports that dietitians and nutritionists earn a median annual wage of $61,650 as of May 2021. Those who work in outpatient care centers find the greatest earnings, with median salaries of $74,640.
Three of the highest-paying states for dietitians and nutritionists include California, Washington D.C., and Hawaii. Professionals in these states find average earnings of $82,380, $80,600, and $75,020, respectively.
Becoming a dietitian includes earning a bachelor's degree in dietetics from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. These programs typically require four years of full-time study to complete. Aspiring registered dietitians must also complete 1,200 hours of supervised experience.
Effective January 2024, dietitians require a minimum of a master's degree to take the exam to become registered dietitian nutritionists. Some schools offer accelerated combined programs, enabling students to complete their bachelor's and master's in five years. In many states, dietitians also need a license.