Nutritionist: Career Profile, Job Outlook and Educational Requirements
Find out about the many career paths for nutritionists, who help individuals or institutions with healthy diet planning. Get information on typical job duties, education requirements and employment outlook predictions. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
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 about 60,300 people worked as dietitians and nutritionists as of 2008 (www.bls.gov). Employment was projected to increase to 65,800 by 2018. However, as of May 2010 employment had fallen to approximately 53,510.
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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