Opportunities abound for people who are interested in nutritional science. Most graduates from nutritional science programs become nutritionists or dietitians. These careers involve working with patients or dining services to plan and supervise the preparation of healthy meals and special diets.
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Other nutritional science professionals work as food scientists, analyzing food and ingredients, and what causes them to go bad. Food scientists may be in charge of the sanitation, quality control, and marketing of foods. There are a number of different degree options in nutrition science:
- Certificate programs, often offered online, can help those who are new to the field or those who want to specialize in a particular area.
- A bachelor's degree in nutrition, typically a full-time 4-year path, can lead to a career as a dietitian or nutritionist for a healthcare facility. The American Dietetic Association awards the Registered Dietitian credential to those who pass an exam after completing academic coursework and a supervised internship.
- Advanced degrees such as a master's or a PhD are available for those who want to further their studies.
When studying nutrition science, you learn about the microbiology of food, food processing and technology, diet and exercise, and weight management.
Career Outlook for Nutritional Science Professionals
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects average employment growth with the greatest opportunities for those with advanced degrees and certification.
According to the American Dietetic Association, annual wages for registered dietitians in 2007 varied depending on their practice area. Consultants earned as much as $60,008. Those in nutrition management earned more than $64,000, while those in a clinical nutrition or long-term care setting earned around $52,000.