Choosing a career in nutrition means you can play a key role not only in guiding individual eating habits but also in promoting community health. Nutrition professionals serve in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and even food processing plants. Their work encompasses education, emotional support, management, and more.
A Master of Science in Nutrition can provide a clear path forward for those looking to make their mark as nutritionists, health coaches, and in the many other fields outlined below:
In most situations, nutritionists provide general advice rather than serving people with severe medical conditions. (Note that a while a master’s degree in nutrition could qualify you for this career, to earn the separate RD/RDN, you must meet the criteria set by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.) Nutritionists’ efforts benefit a variety of individuals who are dedicated to improving their health outcomes and general wellness. You may work in schools, restaurants, and fitness centers; an RD/RDN credentials is usually required to work in this capacity in a healthcare facility.
Hours and pay vary dramatically based on a given nutritionist's specialty, credentials, and work location.
Health or Lifestyle Coach
Rather than focusing exclusively on diet, the health or lifestyle coach takes several facets of health and wellness into account, including physical activity and sleep.
While many health coaches run their own businesses, others contract with larger lifestyle coaching firms or work for fitness clubs. Earnings largely depend on the capacity in which these coaches work and how many clients they choose to take on. Data from PayScale indicates hourly wages of $24.68 for health coaches with a few years of experience.
Nutritionists and health coaches focus on establishing close relationships with individual clients. Some nutrition professionals, however, prefer to work in a group setting. These social individuals often end up serving as nutrition educators. In this role, they provide much-needed information and support for larger groups.
Depending on the needs of the group, nutrition educators may host one-time workshops or return on multiple occasions to continue providing in-depth insight. While they do not offer the level of one-on-one support available through health coaching, these professionals can reach a broader array of individuals who might otherwise never have the opportunity to gain such important knowledge.
Pay for nutrition educators depends on the type of instruction provided and the educator's area of expertise. ZipRecruiter highlights an annual average of $66,962 for this position. Many educators enjoy higher earnings and a greater degree of independence by establishing their own businesses or working as consultants. Keep in mind that required credentials vary between states; in some locations, this profession is only available with an RD.
Behavioral Health Nutrition Technician
Patients receiving treatment from mental health facilities often require significant nutritional support. This is especially true for those recovering from eating disorders and drug addiction. They interact closely with behavioral health nutrition technicians. These critical employees are involved in meal planning, management, and preparation.
Trust is a key component to dietary success in vulnerable populations, so these nutrition technicians make every effort to build strong relationships with the patients they serve. Data compiled by Glassdoor suggests an average annual salary of $51,291 for this job.
Residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities hold specific dietary needs that require specialized attention from highly-trained professionals. Therein lies the value of skilled dietary managers. They oversee the nutritional elements of meal planning and preparation. The goal: to provide healthy meals that address common dietary deficiencies and other nutrition-oriented issues commonly faced by vulnerable populations.
Sometimes referred to as food service coordinators, dietary managers earn a median hourly rate of $16.26, according to PayScale. Credentials such as RDN typically result in significant pay boosts.
Food Safety Auditor
Processing plants must pass strict inspections to ensure that their operations are as safe and sanitary as possible. Food safety auditors examine these locations thoroughly to confirm compliance with local and federal regulations. Following thorough inspections, they prepare reports detailing the strengths and weaknesses observed at each facility. Their recommendations influence hygienic practices and can protect consumers across the nation.
Travel is a critical component of this job, but many auditors enjoy this aspect of their work. They tend to be paid generously for their efforts, with Glassdoor highlighting average annual earnings of $69,800.
Upcoming Master’s Degrees in Nutrition Requirement
As mentioned previously, a master's degree is a wonderful option for expanding career prospects in the field of nutrition. It can provide access not only to the many options outlined above, but also, potentially move you up a step in the career you already have.
In the near future, a master's will not just be helpful—it will be essential. Beginning January 1, 2024, a graduate degree and internship experience will be required for anybody looking to take registration examinations. Given the numerous positions that can only be occupied by those with their RD or RDN, a master's degree will soon be a critical step on the path to a successful career in nutrition.
The right degree can make all the difference as you work towards the nutrition careers outlined above. Equipped with a Master of Science in Nutrition, you can help a variety of people lead healthier and happier lives.
If you’re interested in a career in nutrition, consider earning your master’s degree in nutrition from JWU. To learn more, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].