Nutritionists plan and supervise food and nutrition programs for a wide variety of individuals, including those who have special medical needs such as diabetes, high blood pressure or eating disorders. Nutritionists may also oversee large-scale menu planning for health care facilities or cafeterias, organize public education campaigns to promote healthy eating, or work with food manufacturers to improve the nutritional value of their products.
Most nutritionists are employed by hospitals, though nursing care and outpatient care facilities are also major employers. California, New York and Texas were the states that employed the highest number of nutritionists in 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.
Whet your appetite for nutrition programs
Becoming a nutritionist requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree, which typically takes four years. Aspiring nutritionists might major in fields such as dietetics, food and nutrition, and food service systems management. Nutrition courses include everything from communications to biochemistry to economics. Nutrition programs are also available at the master's degree level.
The vast majority of states require licensing for nutritionists, though some require only certification or registration. Employment of nutritionists is expected to increase by 9 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS. The growing number of diabetics and the aging population accounts for much of the increase, so nutritionists trained to work with those populations may see the best job options.
The mean annual salary for nutritionists in 2010 was $53,340, with the top 10 percent making more than $75,480. Other related career paths include dietetic technician, food service manager and health educator.