What Can You Do with a Nutrition Degree?

The Complete Guide to Careers in Dietetics, Food Education, Health, and Wellness


A nutrition degree can open the door to numerous career opportunities. Throughout this resource, we will highlight different career paths, as well as what it takes to earn a nutrition degree, why earning a degree in nutrition is valuable, and how you can get started on your journey to a career in nutrition today.

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Explore: What is Nutrition?

Nutrition, as a whole, is defined as the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses them, and the relationships between health, diet, and disease. The study of nutrition includes learning about food sources of nutrients and the relationships between food quality and sustainability issues, such as how food is cultivated and processed and how it is delivered to consumers.

Studying nutrition can blossom into many different careers in health and wellness. Continue reading to learn about some of these different pathways and opportunities.

Emerging Nutrition Jobs and Career Paths

Jobs in nutrition are on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow by 11 percent over the next eight years, which is faster than the average for all occupations. On average, about 5,900 openings for nutritionists and dietitians are projected to become available each year.


Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Opportunities (RDN)

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.

Sport 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.

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 Range: $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.

Food Service Director

Average Salary Range: $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.

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.

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.

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 Range: $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. 

The Value of a Degree in Nutrition

With nutrition jobs on the rise, one could argue that there is no better time to earn a degree in nutrition than now. In this booming job market, a degree can be very valuable, and it’s worth considering what a nutrition degree can do for you.

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Increase the odds of getting (and keeping) a job.
Many employers now consider a college degree a standard requirement for new applicants. A degree can also equip you to be a better employee, which will likely allow for more job security.

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Open doors to professional advancement.

A degree won’t just help you land your job, it’ll also make you competitive. Between your professors, peers, and other resources offered through your nutrition program, college can help you build your professional network and pave the way for future opportunities.

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Increase earning potential.

On an annual basis, bachelor or higher degree holders earn about 84 percent more in wages than those who only have a high school diploma. College graduates earn on average $36,000 more per year than students who did not attend or finish college, and are typically offered higher starting salaries than non-graduates.

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Increase your knowledge.

Learning is earning, and the more you know about a subject, the more valuable you are to a potential employer.

Degree Offerings at Bastyr University

Bastyr University has paved the way as a pioneer in science-based natural medicine, and is recognized as the leading health arts and sciences university in the world. Bastyr offers innovative nutrition degree programs that encompass a “whole-food” approach. Throughout nutrition classes, students study food in its entirety, its individual components, and how it affects the human body.

With a degree in nutrition from Bastyr University, students meet the nutritional needs and challenges of individuals, their community, and beyond and are equipped with the tools necessary to make an impact on societal and global scales. If you’re ready to fuel your passion for food, nutrition, and whole-person wellbeing, continue reading to learn about the nutrition programs offered.


Nutrition Programs Offered:

M.S. in Integrative Nutrition (Online)
M.S. in Nutrition / Didactic Program in Dietetics
M.S. in Nutrition / M.A. in Counseling Psychology
B.S. in Nutrition, Food & Exercise
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M.S. in Integrative Nutrition

Students interested in pursuing a 100% online, asynchronous master’s degree are great candidates for the MS in Integrative Nutrition. This is our only online nutrition program and it was created for the adult learner that seeks to advance their career in nutrition and guide others toward wellness.

Potential career paths with this degree include:

  • Nutrition consulting in private and group settings, spas, wellness centers, and schools
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Natural products industry
  • Research and development
  • Nutrition education and promotion

Students are trained on the intersectionality of diet, lifestyle, environment, and culture, in a truly integrative nutrition approach.


M.S. in Nutrition / Didactic Program in Dietetics
Seattle, WA Campus

Students interested in fulfilling their dreams as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can pursue the MSN/DPD Program which will provide the academic and competency requirements for registered dietitian eligibility. This program allows students to complete a didactic program while pursuing a master's in nutrition.

Potential career paths with this degree include:

  • RDN in various clinical settings 
  • Public health administration
  • Corporate wellness
  • Food and nutrition consulting
  • Academic career in various settings
  • Research in a clinic or laboratory 

This degree prepares students to be eligible to apply for ACEND-accredited supervised practice programs, which in turn, supports eligibility to sit for the registration examination for dietitians.


M.S. in Nutrition / M.A. in Counseling Psychology
Seattle, WA Campus

This dual-track program is perfect for those who are passionate about nutrition, mental health, and whole-person wellbeing. The MSN/MACP Program integrates training in nutritional counseling and mental health counseling, leading to licensure as a mental health counselor. The program includes a supervised practicum with a diverse patient population.

Potential career paths with this degree include:

  • Mental health, lifestyle, behavioral, or eating disorder counselor
  • Nutrition consultant or educator
  • Nutritionist (in select states)
  • Substance abuse social worker
  • School, marriage, and family counselor
  • Prevention and wellness coach
  • Corporate wellness consultant

Students in this program gain a deeper understanding of the holistic relationship between nutrition and mental health through clinical experience and lecture-style education.


B.S. in Nutrition, Food & Exercise
Seattle, WA Campus

There are many ways to turn your passion for  nutrition into a meaningful, successful profession. The Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Food, and Exercise integrates the sciences of whole foods nutrition and exercise and you can start your career right after graduation. 

Learn the science of whole-food nutrition and exercise and become qualified to apply for certification by the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

You can count on Bastyr to provide the highest-level of education, whether it be in our Bachelor or Master Programs.

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World-class education.
A rigorous, science-based curriculum prepares you for a mainstream profession with a natural health perspective. Highly qualified faculty, small class sizes and strong advising programs give you the focused attention you deserve.

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Exceptional nutrition facilities.

Grow your understanding of nutritional concepts and develop your culinary skills in a fully equipped whole-food nutrition kitchen. Explore the University’s Medicinal Herb Garden and its 350 species of herbs and seasonal crops. The garden serves as a laboratory for organic, sustainable and renewable agriculture.

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Additional learning opportunities.

You’ll have access to elective classes in other programs, including herbal sciences, naturopathic medicine and health psychology.

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A diverse student body.

Bastyr students draw from across the United States and over 25 other countries.

“I chose Bastyr because of its approach to health and well-being. I’m interested in pursuing a future career where I help patients make the connection between the food they eat and their emotional and mental well-being. I believe that nutrition is more than just food on the plate.” 

Hana Wilhelm
Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, '20


Fuel Your Passion for Wellness With a Nutrition Degree from Bastyr University

Pursuing a degree in nutrition is far more rewarding than just landing a career in a growing field. Nutrition education is powerful, and with a nutrition degree, you have the ability to change lives and create healthy regimens for individuals, your community, and even on a global scale. Through the whole-person, holistic approach at Bastyr, you will be able to touch people’s lives, and help them create a more fruitful journey for themselves and those around them.

At Bastyr, we believe in respecting the healing power of nature and recognizing that body, mind and spirit are intrinsically inseparable. We model an integrated approach to education, research and clinical service. Our vision is to transform the health and wellbeing of our surrounding communities, and we invite you to join us.

Take Your
Next Steps with Bastyr

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Connect with Admissions

We understand that choosing the right program to match your interests and goals can be hard, but our admissions advisors are here to help.

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Visit Bastyr's Campus

A degree in nutrition from Bastyr is worth it! If you want to see for yourself you can take a tour of campus, virtually or in-person. 

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