Nutritionist: Career Profile, Job Outlook and Educational Requirements
Explore the career requirements for nutritionists. Get the facts about degree requirements, salary, job duties and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fitness & Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information At a Glance
Find out about the postsecondary training necessary to become a nutritionist. By reading the employment and salary projections and job duties in the table below, you can figure out if this field is a fit for you.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Nutrition, dietetics, food service|
|Key Responsibilities||Plan health-conscious menus, teach about healthy eating, conduct nutritional research, review effectiveness of meal plans|
|Licensure/Certification||Most states require nutritionists to be licensed; certification is optional|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||21% (for all dieticians and nutritionists)*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$55,920 (for all dieticians and nutritionists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Will My Job Duties Be as a Nutritionist?
Your duties can encompass both organization and individual planning. You might review the nutritional content of an organization's entire menu, educate the food service staff on nutritional concepts, propose changes and monitor compliance with local, state or federal regulations. Working with an individual, you might assess his or her dietary habits and devise a program that rectifies nutritional deficiencies. You may visit a client's home or consult with his or her physician to coordinate diet and medical care.
Where Could I Work?
The most prominent employers of nutritionists are institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities and schools that serve meals to a large number of people and must abide by federal nutrition regulations. You can also find opportunities in physician's offices, government health agencies, spas or as an independent contractor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 60,000 people worked as dietitians and nutritionists as of 2013 (www.bls.gov). Employment was projected to increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022.
What Degree Programs Are Appropriate?
Nutritionists must hold a 4-year bachelor's degree in food service management, dietetics, nutrition science or a related subject. Dietetics and nutrition science programs overlap considerably but have differences in orientation. Dietetics programs are concerned with promoting health and fighting disease through the application of nutritional principles to meal planning and food preparation. Nutrition science programs examine the role nutrients perform in humans and how nutritional needs vary across the human life cycle. Food service management programs add business administration concepts to a dietetics and nutrition education.
Course topics in each type of program might address food and culture, nutritional evaluation, nutritional therapy and food service delivery. Biology, biochemistry, microbiology and chemistry are possible supporting courses in dietetic and nutrition science programs. Finance, accounting and institutional management might be supporting courses in a food service management program. All bachelor's degree programs require completion of general education courses in composition, mathematics, the humanities or social sciences.
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