What Can You Do with a Nutrition Degree?

Written By: James Holbrook

Published: 5/6/2022

Food and health are at the center of everyone’s life, but you may be interested enough to pursue a career in nutrition. Whether you’re interested in government regulation, working with communities, or developing new techniques, an online degree in nutrition may be right for you. Earning a bachelor's degree in nutition online or through a hybrid program makes it easier than ever to enter the field, but what can you do with a nutrition degree once you earn it?


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Nutrition Careers

Below are five common careers you can pursue with a nutrition degree, including salary and job outlook data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Dietetic Technician
Annual Median Salary: $29,520
Job Outlook: 7%

Dietetic technicians typically work in various healthcare settings to ensure patients are receiving the proper diets through nutrition programs. They also report any hazards they notice and help maintain a high quality of patient care. Dietetic technicians also interact directly with patients to deliver food and make sure the patient is doing well.

Health Education Specialists
Annual Median Salary: $48,860
Job Outlook: 17%

Health educators help their clients develop strategies to improve and maintain their well-being. They often work with communities to develop programs, provide access to health services, and supervise the staff who run these programs and services. These careers involve advocating for and collecting data about community health and individuals' needs.

Food Science Technicians
Annual Median Salary: $74,160
Job Outlook: 9%

Food technologists, or food science technicians, primarily perform shelf-life studies and food quality tests, including food safety. They may also develop food modifications, such as creating a fat-free or sugar-free version of a food. Food technologists also create panels and speak with consumers to evaluate food products before integrating the results with their work.

Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Annual Median Salary: $71,650
Job Outlook: 5-10%

Regulatory affairs specialists are present in many fields, but with a degree in nutrition, an individual can work with the government, pharmaceutical companies, and other organizations to coordinate, prepare, and/or review documents. They make sure food is safe and focus on public health and regulations from a legal standpoint. Regulatory affairs specialists evaluate the laws and regulations that impact the organizations they work for to ensure they maintain compliance.

Dietician and Nutritionist
Annual Median Salary: $61,650
Job Outlook: 11%

Nutritionists assess and counsel clients on their nutritional and health needs through nutrition education. Nutritionists may specialize in specific diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, digestive disorders, eating disorders, or obesity. Often, nutritionist jobs can be found in a range of healthcare facilities — including hospitals, clinics, private practices, or nursing homes — where nutrition consultants can create personalized care plans and promote healthy eating habits.

What’s the Difference Between Nutritionists and Dietitians?

Though dietitians are nutritionists, not all nutritionists are dietitians. To become a dietitian, individuals must pass a national exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Nutritionists, on the other hand, may work and practice without this specific license.

Most often, nutritionists without certifications provide general health advice and cannot diagnose conditions, such as eating disorders or illnesses. They often focus on general diet and nutrition goals, and they can be found working at schools, hospitals, or athletic organizations, to name a few settings.

Dietitians, however, can diagnose their patients. RDNs often provide specific diets designed to treat medical conditions, such as diabetes or obesity. They can teach as well, but they also conduct targeted research and work as part of a medical team to treat patients.

Where Can I Work With a Nutrition Degree?

California, Texas, and New York are the top three states for those who want to pursue the most profitable career in nutrition. Both California and Texas rank in the top three of all five jobs listed, while New York ranks in two of the careers.

Below are the three states with the highest employment rates for each of the careers listed above:

Dietetic Technician

1

California

  • # Currently Employed: 3,930
  • Average Hourly Wage: $20.95
  • Average Annual Wage: $43,570

2

Michigan

  • # Currently Employed: 2,310
  • Average Hourly Wage: $14.67
  • Average Annual Wage: $30,520

3

Texas

  • # Currently Employed: 1,270
  • Average Hourly Wage: $14.56
  • Average Annual Wage: $30,290

Health Education Specialist

1

California

  • # Currently Employed: 7,070
  • Average Hourly Wage: $33.97
  • Average Annual Wage: $70,650

2

Florida

  • # Currently Employed: 4,540
  • Average Hourly Wage: $31.18
  • Average Annual Wage: $64,840

3

Texas

  • # Currently Employed: 3,870
  • Average Hourly Wage: $26.17
  • Average Annual Wage: $54,440

Dietician and Nutritionist

1

California

  • # Currently Employed: 7,690
  • Average Hourly Wage: $39.61
  • Average Annual Wage: $82,380

2

New York

  • # Currently Employed: 4,880
  • Average Hourly Wage: $35.00
  • Average Annual Wage: $72,800

3

Texas

  • # Currently Employed: 4,460
  • Average Hourly Wage: $31.04
  • Average Annual Wage: $64,560

Food Science Technicians

1

California

  • # Currently Employed: 2,170
  • Average Hourly Wage: $23.64
  • Average Annual Wage: $49,170

2

Texas

  • # Currently Employed: 1,390
  • Average Hourly Wage: $20.65
  • Average Annual Wage: $42,960

3

Wisconsin

  • # Currently Employed: 930
  • Average Hourly Wage: $22.40
  • Average Annual Wage: $46,600

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

1

California

  • # Currently Employed: 41,500
  • Average Hourly Wage: $39.73
  • Average Annual Wage: $82,640

2

Texas

  • # Currently Employed: 27,840
  • Average Hourly Wage: $35.57
  • Average Annual Wage: $73,990

3

New York

  • # Currently Employed: 23,120
  • Average Hourly Wage: $36.05
  • Average Annual Wage: $74,980

What Kind of Companies Can I Work For?

If you are wondering what your career path could look likein the field of nutrition, it's helpful to consider the different companies you could potentially work for. Below we listed some prominents organizations that hire people with nutrition majors for a wide range of opportunities, from product development to disease prevention:

Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories is one of the largest wellness companies in the US. They do nutrition research, perform lab diagnoses, and create new products. Abbott brings people in at all levels, including internships and development programs. With a bachelor's degree, you could apply for a nutrition career with Abbott and pursue your specialty interests.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is a healthcare provider and medical group that is focused on improving community nutrition and overall health. They partner with local organizations, municipal leaders, and other groups to provide healthcare, wellness education, and funding for community improvement. Kaiser also works with policy groups to affect regulation and improve patient lives. Their nutritionists work directly with patients, create recipes, and sponsor farmer’s markets.

The Cleveland Clinic

The Cleveland Clinic is one of the leading medical and research centers in the health field. In addition to their various specialties, The Cleveland Clinic is dedicated to Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, believing that a focus on nutrition is an integral part of health and wellness. Their nutritionists work with patients and conduct research.

Wellness Coaches

Wellness Coaches is a healthcare provider that partners with companies to provide corporate wellness nutrition services. They are evidence-based and focused on preparing meal plans and wellness classes for their partners’ employees. Wellness Coaches offers telehealth and individual help as well as larger group sessions.

Nutritionist Skills

Because a nutritionist works with clients, it’s not enough to know the science behind health. Working with people who need dietary help can be stressful, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.

To obtain your desired career in nutrition and best help future clients, it's helpful to develop the following skills during your program coursework:

  • Communication
  • Active Listening
  • Patience
  • Time Management
  • Attention to Detail
  • Mathematics
  • Collaboration
  • Research

Advancing Your Career in Nutrition

Continuing Education

Many careers in nutrition require at least a bachelor’s degree, and while being a nutritionist doesn’t require a specific license, most specialties do. In order to enter certain fields, like public policy or medical nutrition therapy, a master’s in nutrition may be required. If you’re interested in nutrition research, chemistry, or advanced nutritional science, a doctoral degree may even be necessary in some cases.

Certifications and Licensure

Below are some nutrition careers you can get with certification, licensure, and/or additional educational requirements, but please note that these are approximations because requirements can be state dependent:

Education: Master’s degree in nutrition or similar field

Prior Field Experience: At least 1,000 hours

Exam: Nutritionist Certification Board

Accreditation Board: Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS)

Education: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition or similar field

Prior Field Experience: None

Exam: Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)

Accreditation Board: CBNS

Education: A course approved by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP)

Prior Field Experience: At least 500 hours

Accreditation Board: Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board 

Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in clinical nutrition, including additional courses in herbology, nutrition, aging, and nutrition

Accreditation Board: Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB)

Education: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition or similar field

Prior Field Experience: At least 1,200 hours

Accreditation Board: The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

Education: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition or similar field

Prior Field Experience: At least 1,200 hours

Accreditation Board: The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

Other Resources

Now that you know what you can do with a degree in nutrition, you can consider whether it’s the right fit for you. Nutrition is a field that provides opportunities at all levels of education — from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate. An online degree in the field can lead to many different jobs in nutrition, allowing you to find a niche that suits your interests, whether that involves research, patient care, or policy.

These organizations can help you learn more about pursuing a career in nutrition:

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