Nutrition Sciences and Studies
Nutrition science is the study of how nutrition relates to human health and disease prevention. Find out about job duties and salary info, as well as educational requirements and degree coursework.
Are Nutrition Sciences and Studies for Me?
Dieticians and nutritionists have many different responsibilities and titles. For instance, clinical dieticians develop nutrition programs for individual patients in healthcare facilities, while management dieticians prepare meals for cafeterias in prisons, universities, schools and healthcare facilities. Community dieticians promote the public's knowledge of nutrition and ways to prevent disease. Some dieticians and nutritionists own their own practices and provide individual consultations about weight management and other dietary concerns by implementing nutritious practices.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 67,000 individuals worked as dieticians and nutritionists in 2012 (www.bls.gov). More than 50% of them worked in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. As a dietician, you could also work for the government or in food services.
The BLS projected that between 2012 and 2022, the employment of dieticians and nutritionists would increase by 21%. According to the BLS, some of these job opportunities are a result of people wanting to combat health problems related to poor nutritional habits and others are a result of the increasing number of obese people. The BLS reported that as of May 2013 the median annual salary for dieticians and nutritionists was $55,920.
How Can I Work in Nutrition Sciences and Studies?
Although associate's degree programs in nutrition sciences are available, most employers require that aspiring dieticians and nutritionists have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the BLS. In an undergraduate degree program in nutrition sciences, you can study common eating disorders, weight management techniques, the basics of nutrition and nutritional practices for young children, adults, pregnant women and athletes. Some classes address the absorption of nutrients and how dietary decisions can be beneficial for patients. If you're interested in becoming a dietician, you must complete a dietetic internship and pass a national examination. Other career opportunities include restaurant ownership or working as a chef and preparing healthy meals for your customers.
A master's degree or a doctorate in nutrition sciences can lead to advanced opportunities in nutrition, including management positions. If you're applying for a master's degree in nutrition, you must have previous credits in nutrition. To enroll in a doctoral degree program, you must have a master's degree that includes classes in nutrition and sciences. Through courses in these degree programs, you can explore how minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates affect the body, gain practical experience counseling patients regarding nutrition and dietary practices, conduct research on topics related to nutrition and apply alternative nutritional therapies for health purposes. With this training, you could open a private practice that focuses on nutrition, work as a practitioner of holistic nutrition, pursue managerial opportunities available to dieticians or use your specialization to work in medical or sports nutrition.
Licensing and Certification
Not all states have regulations concerning dieticians, but most of them require that you receive licensure. It's also possible to earn certification as a registered dietician through the American Dietetic Association.