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Career Opportunites with a Degree in Nutrition

There is no better time than now to start your degree in nutrition and begin a career in this emerging field.  Explore a variety of jobs and careers in nutrition available today and in the near future.

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Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Opportunities

Registered Dietitians are nutrition experts who have met the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s (CDR) requirements to earn the RD credential. Their job is to translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. They work in a variety of settings and are the most sought-after pathways in the nutrition field.

Clinical Dietitian (RDN)

Average Salary Range: $60,000 - $88,000

Clinical Dietitians are RDNs who use their knowledge to help people make positive lifestyle changes, especially in the way that they eat. They can be found working in many different environments, such as hospitals, clinics, universities, private practices and more.

Clinical dietitians often work in hospital settings, where they help people achieve better health and wellness through food and other dietary modifications. Clinical dietitians are uniquely qualified to assess food intake patterns, evaluate laboratory values and other clinical tests, monitor patient signs and symptoms, and make recommendations for therapeutic diets that will aid in recovery from serious illnesses, diseases, or accidents.

Community Dietitian

Average Salary: $52,000 - $76,000

Community Dietitians counsel the public and develop programs based on topics related to food, health, and nutrition. Often, they work with specific groups of people, such as children or the elderly. They can work in clinics, government and nonprofit agencies, health organizations, and more.

Community Dietitian roles typically require a bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, clinical nutrition, or a related area, as well as several hours of supervised training, usually in the form of an internship. However, the RDN license is deemed very favorable for this career pathway, especially in clinics and government settings.

Sports Nutritionist

Average Salary: $46,000 - $66,000

A Sports Nutritionist is specialized, and they typically work with individual athletes and teams. Their goal is to support optimal training and sport performance with dietary modifications. A Sports Nutritionist creates tailored dietary regimens and plans based upon the athlete’s body, workout schedule, and the sport. They can also help the player with different areas of their body, such as building muscle mass or improving endurance. Certain players require different nutrition based on the sport they play, and the Sports Nutritionist is skilled to create these tailored plans.

While the minimum education required to become a Sports Nutritionist is a bachelor’s degree, many companies, particularly universities, want to hire RDNs with a master’s degree in nutrition and a lot of hands-on experience.

Foodservice Dietitian

Average Salary: $32,000 - $76,000

Foodservice Dietitians work in food systems, foodservice and management in a wide variety of settings such as hospitals, post-acute care facilities, schools, universities, and more. This role requires a broad skillset, including food planning, safety and recipe analysis, as well as management and leadership. 

While these roles are available for both RDNs and non-RDNs, it’s recommended that students who want to work in many of the settings listed above pursue the widely-accepted RD license.

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Nutritionist Opportunities (non-RDN)

The nutrition and wellness field offers many holistic pathways for someone to pursue, where mind and body are usually the center focus. These jobs can typically be found in corporate or private institutions. Nutritionists without an RDN can also work in some of the positions listed above, such as Sports Nutritionists and Community Nutritionists, however, it’s less likely they will be hired in hospitals or similar career settings.

Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)

Average Salary: $50,000 - $78,000

Those who want to become Certified Nutrition Specialists are trained in functional medicine and bio-individuality. They often work in doctor’s offices or in private wellness centers, as opposed to hospitals. Their role is to help individuals or populations with food behavior, which often includes devising and implementing meal plans that improve the individual’s or family’s nutrition. 

A master’s degree is required to become a CNS, as well as internship hours. You will also need to pass the CNS board exam.

Certified Health Coach

Average Salary: $50,000 - $72,000

Depending on whether they work for a company or for themselves, Health Coaches may have a wide variety of job requirements and responsibilities. Health Coaches typically work with individuals 1-on-1 to help them improve their health and maintain a healthy lifestyle. A Health Coach will help their patients establish dietary plans, safe exercise routines, and monitoring systems. 

A Health Coach may need college education and/or Health Coach Certification, depending on the state that you reside in.


Nutrition Education and Advocacy Opportunities

Nutrition advocacy and education careers look to teach and provide examples of nutrition and its role in our health.

Foodservice Director

Average Salary: $75,000 - $135,000

A director of food and nutritional service's main role is to provide a nutrition program in a variety of healthcare settings that benefits clients and meets all federal requirements. Knowledge of standards related to the preparation and distribution of foods is necessary, as is knowing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations, safety and cleanliness rules, and public relations techniques. They must also be able to maintain a network of professional contacts and stay up to date with current trends and practices in their field. 

Qualifications for this position typically include a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in food and nutrition or business management. The director of food and nutritional services must be certified and typically must have prior experience in food service management.

School Food Service Director

Average Salary: $75,000 - $135,000

In this role, directors are tasked with running the operations of elementary and secondary school cafeterias. They plan the menus and order the ingredients, all while working to meet government requirements for nutrition, food preparation and safety. They also hire and manage a staff. 

Qualifications for this position typically include a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in food and nutrition, as well as prior experience in the foodservice industry.

Nutrition and Food Studies Faculty

Average Salary: $61,000 - $93,000

A Nutrition or Food Studies Professor or Faculty Member teaches at an undergraduate or graduate level or works in the nutrition department. They can vary in what they teach, but it will typically revolve around nutrition, food science, or health and wellness.

Depending on the level at which they teach, most Nutrition Professors or Faculty Members will be required to obtain a master’s degree, if not their Ph.D.


Research and Development Opportunities

Nutrition research and development careers look to explore and implement health and wellness habits to communities and beyond through food.

Food Scientist

Average Salary: $51,000 - $80,000

Food Scientists discover and research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of farming establishments, such as soil analysis and crop growth, and food product development. They may also test food for various levels of nutrient elements, as well as checking the accuracy of product labels. Some Food Scientists may even develop new techniques to improve the overall food production process.

A bachelor’s degree in food sciences, nutrition, or agricultural science is required to become a food scientist, but some positions may require a master’s degree.

Research Chef

Average Salary: $55,900 - $95,500

A Research Chef oversees the development of new recipes and assesses current offerings, develops new products and ideas, brainstorms concepts and tests new foods. They are to create new and nutritious food products or menu items, depending on the field and establishment in which they work, which can range from restaurants, to schools, to resorts and hotels.

To become a research chef, a bachelor’s degree may be required, as well as culinary experience. Earning a master’s degree in food sciences or nutrition may also be required, depending on the establishment. 

There are many different career pathways someone can choose in nutrition. In order to become applicable for the jobs in nutrition and whole-person wellness, you will need an education in nutrition, since most positions in the field require college degrees.

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