“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” said Hippocrates, the “father of medicine.” That insight from the middle of the 5th century still holds true today. Earning a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition from Lamar University is a wise choice if you want to change fields or advance your career in the health industry.
The average pay for a nutritionist or dietitian was $59,410 per year, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professionals in diet and nutrition with advanced degrees in a specialty area can expect even better job prospects, and job openings for dietitians and nutritionists are expected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. This health field continues to outpace others for job opportunities, in part, because of the growing aging and obese population. As a result, preventive healthcare takes on even greater importance in today’s medical settings.
What Do Nutrition Careers Involve?
A career in nutrition includes advising and educating others on the best foods for their bodies. With your master’s, you are prepared to work as a nutritionist, dietitian or health educator. Today’s professionals do much more than tell you what you can and can’t eat. After evaluating the health of their clients, they help patients understand the relationship between food, diet, health and disease. Then they advise clients on which foods to eat — and which to avoid — and how to prepare foods that will help them improve their health.
What Career Paths Are Available?
Here are brief descriptions of just a few specialties you might choose to pursue in this line of work.
Clinical dietitians and nutritionists: These health professionals provide medical nutrition therapy. You could be working in any number of healthcare facilities where you will develop meal plans based on the needs of the patients and advise them on how to improve their diet. In addition, clinical dietitians and nutritionists might further specialize, such as working exclusively with heart patients or those fighting obesity.
Community dietitians and nutritionists: These public health workers devise programs and educate the public on topics related to nutrition, often working with a specific group of people such as the elderly or expectant mothers. You could work in a variety of settings such as a fitness center or a public health clinic.
Management dietitians: This type of dietician plans meal programs. As opposed to one-on-one meal planning, you might be serving a larger population such as in a hospital cafeteria, prison, or school district. In this job, you could be responsible not only for planning nutritious meals but also for creating a budget, purchasing food and even managing the kitchen staff.
Wellness coaches: Coaches of this kind help patients make and meet goals for weight loss, smoking cessation and stress reduction. As a wellness coach, you’ll work with clients to help them make smarter food and fitness choices that complement their lifestyle.
Epidemiologists: These professionals study health records, looking for patterns and causes of various ailments. Their mission is to identify, control and prevent the spread of disease. In fact, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control refer to epidemiologists as “disease detectives.”
With a Master of Science in Nutrition, you can take a number of career paths: evaluating meal plans, developing educational materials related to food choices, speaking to groups about diet and nutrition, contributing to or researching the latest food and nutrition information, and more.
Learn more about Lamar University’s online Master of Science in Nutrition program.