Nutrition Jobs You Can Pursue with a Bachelor’s Degree

TROY's Bachelor of Science in Nutrition can open the door to many careers where you can influence the health of individuals and communities.

TROY's Bachelor of Science in Nutrition can open the door to many careers where you can influence the health of individuals and communities.

As of January 1, 2024, you need to have a graduate degree instead of a bachelor’s degree to be eligible to take the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) exam. 

“The recommendation was made based on the fact that almost all other healthcare professions had already increased entry-level educational standards beyond bachelor’s degrees and that moving the entry-level RDN education to a graduate level is consistent with the knowledge, skills and research base required in the field of nutrition and dietetics,” the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) states. 

So what nutrition jobs can you pursue with a bachelor’s degree? Teresa Johnson, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at Troy University, says there are many career options available. 

Dr. Johnson is an RDN and Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND). She also holds a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (DCN) and has more than 35 years of clinical experience in dietetics. While she supports the decision to require a graduate degree to become a registered dietitian nutritionist  — and advises TROY undergraduates to continue their education — she says a rewarding career is possible with a bachelor’s degree.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Nutrition Degree?

Graduates of TROY’s new Bachelor of Science in Nutrition program can go on to hold job titles such as food service director, food safety auditor, corporate wellness coordinator, health educator, nutrition educator, community health worker, nutrition writer and dietary aide, to name a few. 

The program prepares graduates for professional certifications that are highly valued in the foodservice industry, such as certified dietary manager (CDM) and ServSafe. The TROY curriculum, which includes anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, food science, nutrition genomics and medical nutrition therapy, also provides a strong foundation for those who want to get a graduate degree and take the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) exam. 

TROY developed the bachelor’s degree program in nutrition after seeing the interest in the nutrition concentration offered with TROY’s bachelor’s in exercise science. Students interested in healthcare careers often don’t know about registered dietitian nutritionists and the interesting places they can work. 

“A lot of kids get injured in high school and they see a physical therapist and all the cool equipment and think, ‘I want to do that.’ They’re also exposed to nurses — that’s the largest group of healthcare providers. But not many people encounter an RDN.”

RDNs work in a range of settings, including healthcare facilities and corporations, public health, sports, corporate wellness programs, research, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies, private practice/consulting — even NASA, Dr. Johnson notes. 

Majoring in Nutrition Prepares You to Help Others

Dr. Johnson went to the University of Montevallo in Alabama to major in piano performance but enjoyed a nutrition class so much she decided to explore the field for her future career. 

“When I took my first nutrition class, I thought, Wow, this is way more than I thought. We’re not making brownies. We’re not talking about losing weight. No. We’re going to talk about how carbohydrates are metabolized in the mitochondria or how to calculate the carbohydrate needs of athletes or people with diabetes.”

Because there is no legal definition for nutritionist, there are social media influencers and others who have “hijacked” the title, she says, calling themselves nutritionists without any formal training. That can be dangerous for consumers, she cautions. 

“There’s a lot of ‘I eat therefore I know’ about nutrition,” she says. “They don’t understand what all goes into the degree. When you major in nutrition, you have to understand nutrition is a science. It is a convergence of biology and chemistry and physiology and pathophysiology and patient care and counseling. It’s quite wide and varied and I don’t think people really appreciate it until they start taking classes in college.”

Exploring Nutrition Jobs Near You? CDM is a Great Option

If you’re researching nutrition jobs near you, including remote nutrition jobs such as a virtual nutrition or health coach, there are many career options available. Dr. Johnson often counsels TROY students with a bachelor’s degree to consider becoming a certified dietary manager (CDM). These foodservice professionals ensure products meet safety and quality standards in settings such as cafeterias, schools, hospitals and other clinical facilities. The TROY nutrition degree prepares graduates to take the CDM credentialing exam.

“If you go and pull up jobs for certified dietary managers, they’re everywhere. Even though you don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree to become a CDM, it’s really hard to pass that exam without it. With the nutrition degree at TROY, you can come right out and sit for that CDM exam and pass it and get a job as a food service director.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for all foodservice managers is positive, with about 39,600 openings projected each year, on average, through 2032. The median pay in 2022 was $62,310, reports the BLS. 

Earning a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and becoming a CDM is an excellent choice for professional chefs who have grown tired of working nights, weekends and holidays, Dr. Johnson notes. TROY makes it easy for chefs and others to balance work with their studies by offering the nutrition degree online with the option to take in-person courses on any TROY campus.

Those who are in culinary programs at community colleges are also ideal bachelor’s degree candidates, she adds.

“If you’re in a two-year program you could go to TROY online and finish your bachelor’s in nutrition in two years,” she advises. 

Nutrition Jobs and Graduate/Medical School Await TROY Grads

After earning her bachelor’s degree, Dr. Johnson worked as a food service director for a company that owned a chain of nursing homes. The job — and the operation — was outstanding, she says, but she knows that’s not always the case for new graduates. 

“They get one job and it’s a bad environment or they are unhappy and they throw the whole thing away,” she notes. “I always tell students, ‘Don’t let that one experience drive you away.’”

With a goal to become an RDN, Dr. Johnson continued her education, earning a master’s degree in nutrition at Auburn University and a research doctorate in clinical nutrition at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She’s taught at TROY since 2004. In her academic role, she enjoys watching students discover nutrition as a career path.

“That aha moment is really very fulfilling to me,” she says. 

For students who want to go on to professional school, Dr. Johnson encourages them to complete the bachelor’s in nutrition and then take lab courses, such as organic science or chemistry — often a prerequisite for medical school admission — or, in the case of physician assistants, physics courses. 

“If you get a nutrition degree, it can help you apply to these schools,” she says. 

High-Paying Nutritionist Salary is Possible with TROY

If you do decide to become a registered dietitian nutritionist, TROY’s bachelor’s degree in nutrition meets many graduate program requirements. TROY has agreements with top universities so qualifying TROY graduates are accepted into their online master’s in nutrition program. 

“TROY students from anywhere in the world can seamlessly move right into a master’s degree wherever they are,” Dr. Johnson notes. 

While there are plenty of nutrition jobs to pursue with a bachelor’s degree, Dr. Johnson is a strong proponent of getting your master’s degree and becoming an RDN. 

“I would say, by all means, get that RDN. I feel like it opens so many more doors.”

According to the BLS, career opportunities for registered dietitians and nutritionists are projected to grow 7% through 2032 — faster than all other occupations.

“Forty years ago when I got into dietetics, you could go into community, clinical or food service and that was pretty much it. Now you have dieticians who are going to work for NASA, for the military in civil service jobs and contract jobs as tactical dieticians. They’re helping our special forces know how to eat. They work for first responder organizations and for cities working with firefighters and police officers. The new pharmaceutical sales reps are RDNs because these companies want healthcare professionals talking to other healthcare professionals. 

“The variety of places that you can go to work is only limited by what you don’t know.”

Learn More About the TROY Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition

If you’re interested in pursuing nutrition jobs, explore Troy University’s Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. It will open the door to many careers where you can influence the health of individuals and communities, including remote nutrition jobs as a virtual health or nutrition coach. TROY’s nutrition degree also sets you up for success — and a higher nutritionist salary — if you decide to become a registered dietitian.

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