What Can I Do With a Nutrition Degree

Clinical

Areas

Clinical Nutrition

Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Health centers and clinics
  • Home health providers
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Nursing homes
  • Residential care centers
  • Dialysis centers
  • Diabetes care clinics
  • Exercise and fitness centers

Strategies

Volunteer in hospitals or nursing homes to gain experience working with patients or the elderly. Plan to earn the Hospital Registered Dietitian credential. Several years experience and possibly a graduate degree are required for specialties such as pediatrics, gerontology, sports, or critical care.

Community and Public Health Nutrition

Areas

  • Health Promotion
  • Education
  • Program Planning and Implementation
  • Administration
  • Counseling
  • Consultation

Employers

  • Public and home health agencies
  • Social service agencies
  • Community centers
  • Federal, state, and local government
  • Daycare centers
  • Health and recreation clubs
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMO's)

Strategies

Gain extensive clinical experience before pursuing public health. Earn a master's degree for more opportunities. Seek experiences in the public health arena. Learn government application procedures. Develop strong presentation and public speaking skills. Learn to work well with all types of people.

Food Service Management

Areas

  • Menu Planning
  • Budgeting
  • Purchasing
  • Food Preparation
  • Personnel Management

Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Company cafeterias
  • Correctional facilities
  • Camps
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels

Strategies

Obtain work experience in any large-scale food service operation such as campus cafeterias. Take business courses and develop strong computer skills.
Seek supervisory roles to gain experience.

Federal Government

Areas

  • Clinical Dietetics
  • Nutrition Education and Teaching
  • Administration
  • Research

Employers

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration)
  • US Public Health Service: Indian Health Service, Food & Drug Administration, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, Bureau of Health Care and Delivery, National Institutes of Health
  • US Department of Agriculture: WIC (Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children)
  • Veterans Administration Hospitals
  • Peace Corps and VISTA

Strategies

Learn federal government application procedures. Earn a Master's degree for advancement in research or administration. Pursue internships in government agencies. Maintain a strong grade point average.

Consulting

Areas

  • Diet Counseling
  • Education and Programming
  • Writing

Employers

  • Private practice
  • Physicians' offices
  • Weight loss clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Health clubs and spas
  • Restaurants
  • Catering services
  • Food manufacturers
  • Sports teams
  • Health-related magazines and Internet sites
  • Newspapers

Strategies

Gain experience and expertise in a specialty area of nutrition. Earn additional certifications in fields such as fitness or athletic training. Find a need in the community and fill it. An entrepreneurial spirit is required! Be prepared to work in several areas at one time. Develop excellent written and verbal communication skills. Learn how to promote oneself.

Industry

Areas

  • Research
  • Product Development
  • Sensory Evaluation
  • Quality Assurance
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Consumer Food Science

Employers

  • Food manufacturers
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Health-related businesses
  • Weight loss programs
  • Restaurant and hotel chains
  • Public relations firms with food industry accounts

Strategies

Supplement curriculum with courses in business administration, marketing, or advertising. Develop strong written and verbal communication skills. Gain computer expertise. Seek leadership roles in campus organizations.

Teaching

Areas

  • Teaching
  • Research

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Community and technical schools
  • Nursing, medical, and dental schools
  • Teaching hospitals
  • Medical centers
  • Government agencies
  • Food and pharmaceutical companies

Strategies

Earn a master's degree for instructor positions or a doctorate for tenure track professorships. Earn a graduate degree for advancement in research positions.
Gain research experience by assisting professors. Develop strong communication skills.

General Information

  • Most positions require the Registered Dietitian (RD) credential. Become an RD through an accredited bachelor's or master's program followed by an approved, supervised internship. The Registration Examination for Dietitians is also required.
  • Some states require licensure or certification to practice dietetics.
  • One should enjoy helping people and working with healthcare professionals and have an interest in good health, nutrition, and fitness.
  • Scientific aptitude is required to successfully earn a degree in nutrition. Basic sciences play a large role in nutrition.
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team is important in this field.
  • Clients may be seen individually or in groups. Learn the fundamentals of human relations and group dynamics.
  • Effective communication skills are important.
  • Develop interviewing and counseling techniques.
  • Over half of dietitians and nutritionists work in hospitals, nursing homes, or physicians' offices.
  • Research, public health, and advanced clinical positions require a graduate degree.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer