Nutrition Degree: Teaching Health through Food

Earning a degree in nutrition prepares you for a variety of challenging careers. Those who earn degrees usually find that they have more job opportunities than those who do not. Find a nutrition program that helps you qualify for jobs that have always seemed out of reach. Many colleges offer bachelor's and master's in nutrition degrees. These programs prepare students for professional careers at private companies, public agencies, hospitals and nonprofit organizations. While earning a bachelor's degree will make you a viable candidate for many job positions, a master's degree obviously increases your employability and earning potential. Depending on your current academic background, an undergraduate or graduate certificate in nutrition can provide the training you need to enter the workforce as a professional with plenty of experience.

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Nutrition Degree Information

General Information About Nutrition Degree Programs

The human body, like all organisms, contains chemical compounds that digest and absorb nutrients through the bloodstream. It is the job of nutritionists to learn about the chemical composition of diet and how this affects the body. Nutritionists develop menus for clients and eateries, develop nutrition education programs, research nutritional issues like obesity, evaluate diets for nutritional value and inspect food safety.

Nutrition sciences include all aspects of the use and consumption of food. Clinical nutrition, or dietetics, integrates basic nutrition classes with food service management, education, sociology and psychology. Students take classes in chemistry, biology, calculus, physics, economics and biochemistry to gain a better understanding of how the body and nutrients work.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) should accredit these degree programs, particularly if the student wants to become a dietitian. Nutrition graduates can apply for ADA-approved dietetic internships prior to taking the national exam to become a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians (R.D.) need to have earned a B.S. in Nutrition in a curriculum that meets ADA Didactic Program requirements. Note that while anyone can be a nutritionist, only certified and registered dietitians may use that particular title after meeting the strict educational prerequisites as established by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Bachelor Of Science In Nutrition

A B.S. in Nutrition helps students prepare for post-graduate studies in other health-related professions by providing a solid background in life sciences, human nutrition and molecular biology. Some schools offer specific nutrition concentrations that focus on other aspects, such as managing food at a restaurant or creating community health and wellness programs. Other degree programs have a focus on fitness and exercise and physiological sciences.

Master Of Science In Nutrition

A Master of Science in Nutrition further deals with food quality and nutritional requirements. Students continue the core coursework found in nutrition, food science and food management in addition to advanced biochemistry, physiology, chemistry, biology and behavioral and social sciences. Other aspects, such as metabolism and nutrients, operating food service facilities, fitness and exercise, nutrition problems in the community and society and food related to diseases are also covered as a graduate student. A solid foundation of biology, chemistry and physiology is required before being admitted. Some programs require students to develop and research a thesis. On completion of the program, graduates can take the test to become a registered dietitian.

Further Education In Nutrition

Earning a doctorate in nutritional science dictates focusing either on basic nutrition or applied nutrition, which includes education at the doctorate level. Both specializations require a dissertation and research concerning a focus of nutrition. Ph.D. candidates should have a strong background in biology, biochemistry, physiology and other sciences, as the coursework is at a very advanced level.

Coursework For Nutrition Degrees

Coursework for nutrition degrees encompass the hard sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics, calculus, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, microbiology, toxicology and immunology. Students also have to take a mathematics component, usually calculus, and social science courses or other health-related sciences including food service management and food and science technology.

If the student is interested in a career in food management, some basic business courses like accounting and management are required as well. Other possible courses include classes on dieting, weight loss and eating disorders as well as psychological aspects of fitness and exercises, sports nutrition and medicine, metabolic adaption, biostatistical applications, public health programs and diet evaluation.

Career Opportunities For Nutrition Graduates

Employment for nutritionists is very much in demand as public and private organizations try to address the health problems attributed to health issues, whether it is a lack of exercise, not eating properly or genetics. Graduates can find work in research labs, biotechnology firms, medical facilities, schools, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies and all areas of the food industry. Students can also continue studying for an advanced degree in pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, medicine, law or education.

Dietitians specialize in the diet, meal planning and preparation of food by supervising food preparation and educating others on the benefits of eating well. Registered dietitians can find jobs in health administration, education, research and in public health or public service positions in hospitals, schools, clinics and government agencies. Clinical dietitians provide nutritional services to hospital patients and medical institutions, whereas community dietitians work in public health clinics and health maintenance organizations with individuals and groups on how to improve nutritional practices and prevent disease. Other career possibilities include food service director, clinical researcher, fitness director, community programmer, hospital administration, or working at a food and nutrition company.

Earning Potential For Nutrition Graduates

While the job outlook for graduates in nutrition programs is high, the salary is largely dependent on the amount of schooling. For example, someone who goes on to obtain a medical degree is going to earn more than someone with just a B.S. in Nutrition does. The U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that the median annual earning for dietitians and nutritionists were $46,980, with a range of $38,430 to $57,090, depending on the location, position and education. Health educators earn an average yearly salary of $41,330, while food service managers earn a median salary of $43,020.

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Nutrition Degree FAQs

Are Online Nutrition Degree Programs Available?

Yes, several schools have online nutrition programs that will help you earn your bachelor's or master's degree. These programs replace traditional classroom instruction with Internet applications like virtual classrooms, email and video presentations. Most schools award online students the same diplomas as those who study on campus. Therefore, there is no need for concern as to whether a potential employer will discriminate against an online degree.

What Careers Are Available for Nutrition Degree Graduates?

There are many career options for graduates with degrees in nutrition. Many people find jobs educating clients through their city, county or state health departments. You might also pursue a position at a hospital, insurance company, long-term care facility or research company. Interest in employee health has also motivated many companies to hire nutritionists that can give their workforce the education that they need to make smarter decisions about what they eat. Degrees earned from certain accredited schools and colleges may present the chance to pursue a career in holistic nutrition, which involves identifying and matching meals for resspective individuals.

Which Nutrition Degree Program Should I Choose?

People choose the programs that are right for them by considering a variety of factors. If you have a busy life with a job and a family, then you might want to find an accredited school that offers an online program. This allows you to earn a degree without commuting to class.

If you already have a career in the nutrition industry and would like to earn a degree that helps you advance to better paying, more challenging positions, then you might want to find a school that has an accelerated program so that you can finish your classes as soon as possible. Talk to the schools that interest you and address any issues of concern in order to pick a program that suits your needs.

The Nutrition Degree Curriculum

A nutrition curriculum should help you develop the skills to offer healthful advice to a wide range of people. Most programs offer classes in subjects like sports nutrition, multicultural health, nutrition and fitness, diet therapy, prenatal nutrition and nutrition education.

Nutrition Student Guide

Nutrition is the study of everything related to food, from the preparation of it to its consumption to how the body handles food substances. This field of health sciences examines how health can be affected by food choices as well as how the need for nutrients influences genetics and disease. Nutritionists promote healthy eating habits that affect the lives of people every day as well as educate and prevent obesity, eating disorders, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. By studying molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry, nutritionists can investigate how metabolism and physiological responses to diet.

Nutrition Books

Although nutrition relies on science, labs and research, there is still a lot of reading in the core curriculum. Some of the texts that nutrition students may have to read include "Introduction to Human Nutrition" by Michael J. Gibney, Hester H. Vorster and Frans J. Kok, "Contemporary Nutrition: Issues and Insights" by Gordon M. Warldaw and "Clinical Nutrition" by M. Elia, O. Ljungqvist and J. Dowsett.

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