Is a Nutrition Degree Right for You?

If you are interested in helping people reach optimum health through the foods they eat, you might consider an online bachelors degree in nutrition. Programs teach students how nutrition can be used to prevent, manage, and even treat disease, and how various nutrients are broken down and metabolized in the body.

Students will also learn how to create dietary plans for populations with specific health concerns, such as diabetics, those with severe food allergies, and those who are trying to control their weight. In addition, students learn how to meal plan for large quantities of people in various settings, such as hospitals, schools, and even prisons, where meals are routinely provided and both nutrition and cost must be taken into consideration. You will need strong problem-solving abilities and relationship skills to succeed in this field.

Advice for Earning Your Nutrition Degree Online

The coursework for online bachelor’s degree in nutrition can be completed almost entirely at a distance, although some science labs will require on-campus participation. Also, prospective students should know that most accredited programs in nutrition will incorporate a supervised internship.

Internships are arranged at approved sites near where the student lives and allow students to gain hands-on experience creating diet plans, educating patients on their nutritional needs, diagnosing malnutrition, and more. Also, both institutional and specialized accreditations are vital when selecting an online bachelor degree in nutrition if you plan on becoming a registered dietician in your state after graduating. Special considering should be given to online programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

Required Courses

Online Nutrition degree programs typically include a general education core, with an emphasis on sciences like chemistry, anatomy, and biology. Major courses will focus on various aspects of the nutrition occupation, like counseling, planning, and assessment, as well as courses in physiology, anatomy, and pathology. Some required courses might include:

  • Food Science
  • Nutritional Pathophysiology
  • Nutritional Assessment and Planning
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Nutritional Counseling

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition include:

Nutritionists and Dieticians

  • Expected Growth: 20%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,405

Nutritionists and dieticians are responsible for educating patients about their health conditions, designing diet plans to help patients manage or treat various health conditions, and evaluating the effectiveness of the plans they have assigned.

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for most careers in this field, and many states also require nutritionists and dieticians to be licensed, a process that typically requires students to complete an approved educational program and internship and pass an exam. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent median incomes; actual salaries can vary greatly based on your experience, size and type of employer, education level, certifications, and other factors.

Health Educator

  • Expected Growth: 37%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,405

Health educators inform the public about various health concerns, such as lifestyle-related diseases and ailments, diet, and exercise. They work in a variety of settings, which include health care facilities, colleges, public health departments, nonprofits, and even private businesses. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree and some positions will also require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Agricultural and Food Scientists

  • Expected Growth: 10%
  • Average Annual Salary: $74,350

Nutritionists who plan to seek graduate degrees in food science can consider a career as an agriculture or food scientist. Food scientists work in the government or corporate sectors in laboratories and research facilities to ensure that food is both safe and nutritious.

While a graduate degree at the master’s or doctoral level is required to work as a food scientist, a bachelor’s degree in nutrition is a good foundation for this career path. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $49,360

Fitness trainers and instructors work with individuals to help them meet their health, weight, and fitness objectives. They lead individual or group exercise activities and provide consultation about diet and nutrition. A bachelor’s degree is not required to be a fitness trainer, but a bachelor’s degree in nutrition allows you to give better counsel to your clients, which makes you more marketable in a competitive business. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Chefs and Head Cooks

  • Expected Growth: -1%
  • Average Annual Salary: $47,110

Chefs and head cooks work in restaurants, hotels, and even private residences. They often prepare meals, menus, and even recipes. While most chefs attend culinary school, many have no formal training or education. However, a bachelor’s degree in nutrition can be helpful when designing nutritious recipes for optimum health. And, it can set you apart from other chefs in this already narrow marketplace. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

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