Career Opportunities in Dietetics
Job opportunities in the field of dietetics continue to grow in a variety of areas including health care, sports nutrition, and public policy. Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) serve an integral role in each of these settings. The educational background and training provided prepares RD/RDNs to work among diverse populations with various needs.
- As part of a healthcare team, RDs educate and counsel patients about nutrition, provide medical nutrition therapy through assessment of nutritional needs, nutritional diagnoses, and an individual nutrition care plan
- May work in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient settings or the military.
Food Service Management
- As part of the management team, dietitians plan and oversee everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing of staff
- May work in schools, nursing home facilities, healthcare facilities, hotels, restaurants, colleges, day care centers, or the military.
Business, Industry and Sales
- Food firms need people with nutrition expertise for communications, consumer affairs, public relations, marketing, and product development
- May work in sales and promotion , the food industry, employee wellness programs, marketing, and even supermarkets
- As a member of the community health care team, RDs work with the community to plan and coordinate community- wide health programs to improve their quality of life through healthy eating habits.
- May work in a variety of settings including WIC, community gardens, and community-based clinics
- Working in their own business or under contract with health-focused companies, RDs may provide advice on services in nutrition care, sports nutrition or food service management
- May work with food vendors, restaurant managers, nursing home residents, company employers, Extension Agencies, supermarkets or private clients
Sports Nutrition and Wellness Programs
- Applying sports nutrition science to fueling fitness, sport and athletic performance, sports RDs provide nutritional information for those seeking to achieve optimal performance
- May work for colleges and university athletic departments, corporations, health care organizations, professional sports organizations, private practice, health and fitness centers, or the military
- Public policy. Registered dietitians work to assist in developing dietary recommendations or guidelines that benefit the public’s health and well-being.
- May work at the local, state, or national level
- Working closely with investigators and colleagues, RDs implement, evaluate, and provide educational experiences for dietetic, medial, nursing or other allied health students
- May work in a clinical research center in hospitals or academic centers
Nutrition educators can be found in a wide range of employment positions. They may teach students in a classroom or members of a community. Their main focus is to inform others about nutritional health.
- College, University, or Health Professional School Professor
- Writer for Newspaper or Magazine
- Food Photographer
Extension Agents and Specialists
A Cooperative Extension Service Agent provides education about current research findings to community members on a wide range of topics, such as agriculture, safety and environmental information. They are a part of the Cooperative Extension Service, a branch of the U.S Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities. Service Agents work with Extension Specialists, who are based at universities. Extension Specialists provide Service Agents with necessary training and information for their community outreach.
- Suburban sprawl
- Environmental issues
- Public policy
- Food safety and Nutrition
Extension specialists usually conduct research within their area of interest and use their findings within their educational programs. They may prepare other educational resources for the general public, such as videos or guide booklets.
Sales and Marketing
Sales representatives promote the sales of products and services of their employer companies. Sales representatives that work for companies that produce technical or scientific products typically visit with prospective buyers and explain how their product can meet their needs. For example, a pharmaceutical sales representative can meet with physicians, and other medical specialists to talk about how a certain drug works, its benefits, and side effects. Sales representatives may also sell laboratory products, medical equipment, nutrition and food products.
Areas of Employment
U.S Department of Agriculture – This large department takes on the responsibility of developing and executing federal policy on food and farming. The USDA oversees a variety of topics including food safety, animal and plant health, natural resource management, and the use of biotechnology and other scientific technologies, such as reproduction influences, in food. This department is divided into multiple services and programs.
- The Food Safety and Inspection Service
- Agricultural Research Service
- Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center
- Women Infants and Children
- Children’s Nutrition Research Center
U.S Department of Health and Human Services – This agency is responsible for multiple divisions related to human health. These divisions provide a variety of services. These divisions provide a variety of services.
U.S Department of Homeland Security – The Department of Homeland Security aims to maintain the Nation safe from possible threats. To attain this mission, the agency requires thousands of employees from wide-ranging careers and backgrounds. Nutritional Sciences majors may be involved in the areas of public health, food production safety, and biosecurity.
AgriLife Research and Extension Service – Texas AgriLife Research, as part of the Texas A&M System, is an important research institution for the State of Texas. Research areas include agriculture, plant and animal diseases, field production, and other important issues. The AgriLife extension service is the community outreach and educational component of AgriLife.
Texas Education Agency – This agency is made up of several divisions in different areas of education. Some of which include health and safety, education research and data analysis, and No Child Left Behind program coordination.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission – This commission oversees the Texas Health and Human Services System. The commission is responsible for administration of health programs as well as direct overseeing of some of these programs. It is comprised of five agencies:
- Health and Human Services Commission
- Department of Aging and Disability Services
- Department of State Health Services
- Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
- Department of Family and Protective Services
State Colleges and Universities – State College and University employees are a part of the state government workforce, and include professors and research laboratory personnel.
County and Municipal Government
County and municipal governments are organized into different departments, such as the Brazos County Health Department. This department provides services to maintain public health, such as adult health and immunization clinics where community members may obtain education and health benefits. The Brazos County Health Department also has a health education and promotion division in which health educators provide programs, information, certification opportunities, and presentations for the community. There are other health and human services locations in every community, such as the Brazos Valley Food Bank, the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency, and the Boys and Girls Club of Brazos Valley.
- Food Product Development Companies
- Nutritional Product Development Companies
- Nutraceutical Companies
- Pharmaceutical Companies
- Manufacturing Companies
Non-profit and International Opportunities
CARE – This non-profit organization focuses on fighting poverty through international programs for basic education, preventing the spread of disease, and disaster-relief services.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – This organization works to achieve food security, improve food production in rural areas, and to make sure that people have access to food with enough nutritional value to maintain healthy lives. This organization is composed of seven departments and has established offices worldwide.
Peace Corps – Peace Corps is a unique government agency in that it was established to promote world peace and friendship. The agency establishes service programs worldwide and volunteers devote their skills to participate in specific programs. The work of a volunteer depends on the needs of the host country and the ability of that volunteer to contribute to those needs.
United States Agency for International Development – USAID is a government agency that provides assistance programs in foreign countries that people in those countries to obtain basic needs, such as food and nutritional education.
World Health Organization – The WHO directs global health matters within the United Nations System. This includes leadership on research, monitoring and assessing health trends, articulating health policies, and more.
There are numerous non-profit organizations; some may even be local groups. Internship and other educational opportunities are readily available within NPO’s. Many run with a fairly small permanent staff and often require the aid of numerous volunteers to reach their goals.