Knowing about food and nutrition is not only beneficial for you and your family but also can serve you well in your professional life. If you have specialized training about food and proper nutrition, a number of jobs are available to you. Most positions require a bachelor's degree, although some jobs in the field require only specialized training.
Perhaps the most well-known career in the nutrition field is a dietitian. To become a dietitian, you'll have to have at least a bachelor's degree, and usually a master's degree. Dietitians specialize in planning diets and helping patients adopt a healthy eating regimen. Dietitians are trained to recognize when a patient may need a low-sodium diet to reduce the risk of heart disease, or know how to cut sugar and fat from a diet for an overweight patient. Other duties of dietitians include creating healthy eating programs for schools and hospitals as well as working with doctors to help patients learn healthy eating habits.
Nutritionists are much like dietitians and have many of the same duties, although dietitians work more in clinical settings, such as hospitals or nursing homes. Nutritionists may work more with the public in schools and community programs, focusing on promoting awareness rather than diagnosing and planning meals for patients. Both positions require at least a bachelor's degree, and a license certified by your state of residence.
Dietetic technicians work as assistants of sorts to professional dietitians. They work with dietitians to plan and provide meals, teach proper health and nutrition and work with patients one on one to help them meet specific needs. This occupation requires only a high school diploma supplemented with some post secondary vocational training in the field.
Food Service Manager
Those with a degree in a food-related field may be able to find work as a food service manager, or one who manages a restaurant, cafeteria or other similar establishment. This job is for a person who can handle multiple tasks at a time, such as managing the kitchen, planning meals and other foods that coincide with the theme of the restaurant and keeping customers satisfied during their visit. This job usually requires a bachelor's degree, but managers can sometimes get a job with just a two-year degree.
Health educators formally organize lectures, conventions or other events within the community to promote health awareness and teach individuals about health and nutrition. Although it may sound simple, this is actually a multifaceted job in which the educator plans an event, books a venue and makes other arrangements and promotes the event. To get an entry level job in this field, you must at least have a bachelor's degree, but a graduate degree is highly preferred.
Being a nurse is a versatile option for those with knowledge of food and nutrition. You can become a nurse with a post-secondary certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree, depending on the level of work you wish to pursue. Nurses work with doctors to treat patients, so a nurse with a specialization in nutrition may work with doctors who help obese patients or those with heart problems, for example.
Because of increased interest in health and nutrition in the general public, certified nutritionists or other nutrition professionals have been hired to write about nutrition for magazines, newspapers or blogs. You'll need to have at least a bachelor's degree in a nutrition-related field, but it would be beneficial to also have formal training in writing. The education required would be much the same as that for a nutritionist or dietitian job.
Public Relations Manager
Companies that produce food products need a public relations manager to handle information about the company and its products and to act as a liaison between the company and the press/general public. PR managers may produce pamphlets, brochures and other information about a company's products and use marketing and advertising tools to promote the products to consumers, restaurants and other target markets. A degree in advertising or journalism with an emphasis in PR, along with nutrition training, will help you get a job in food public relations.
With the increase in interest in health-related content, there's an ever-present need for new research and knowledge about different foods and chemicals and how they affect the body. Research assistants help food professionals analyze foods and produce information about different products. A research assistant would need to be trained not only in the areas of food and nutrition but also in research methods, so taking research classes while obtaining your nutrition degree would be a good idea if you want to pursue this line of work.
Management dietitians usually oversee work in large facilities, such as prisons, health care organizations, or corporate cafeterias. These managers do the meal planning, oversee the cooking and distribution of the food and handle all incoming products. Although knowledge of nutrition and food is necessary, business experience and management skills also play a vital role in succeeding in this career. Double-majoring in both business management and nutrition will help you get a job as a management dietitian.
2016 Salary Information for Dietitians and Nutritionists
Dietitians and nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $58,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, dietitians and nutritionists earned a 25th percentile salary of $47,200, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $71,840, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 68,000 people were employed in the U.S. as dietitians and nutritionists.