Nutrition Teaching Jobs
There are four main areas for nutrition jobs within colleges and universities – teaching, research, community outreach, and administration. It is possible to have more than one title and some titles have duties which fall under multiple categories.
The first college and university nutrition job is to work as an undergraduate or graduate professor.
For most major research universities this will also include a research assignment and require that you reach tenure, therefore, some professors are researchers too.
A tenure system within a college or university allows you to begin your job as an assistant professor. Once you conduct research studies, publish studies, teach and fulfill any other requirements of your position within a timeframe set by the college or university, you become eligible for tenure. Earning tenure secures your job and gives you the senior title of full professor or associate professor.
Many colleges and universities do have teaching positions available which do not require a research assignment. These positions are referred to as non-tenure track and the individuals in these positions often have the title of lecturer or adjunct professor.
Nutrition professors on a tenure track will need a doctorate level degree. Those working directly in departments of food, nutrition and dietetics will need to have earned status as a Registered Dietitian. However, those with degrees in the medical field or a doctorate in a field closely related to nutrition such as public health, food science or nursing are qualified to be a nutrition professor depending on the requirements of the position.
If you become a nutrition professor your day-to-day duties will include teaching lectures or lab sessions to undergraduate and graduate students, and evaluating their performance. You will be involved in student mentoring and academic advising. You will likely oversee a graduate or undergraduate student who works as your teaching assistant. In many cases you will sit on health related coalitions and task forces within your department or within the community. You may attend professional conferences and be called on for consultation regarding your nutrition expertise. Some professors work closely with the community on nutrition and food initiatives such as improving school lunches or food security.
Salaries vary for teaching positions within a college or university setting and are based on the type of position and tenure status. Lecturers in higher education earn median salaries of $39,085 per year. Assistant professors earn a median salary of $54,984 per year. Associate professors earn a median salary of $67,287, while full professors earn a median salary of $79,250.
Research jobs may or may not have a teaching assignment. Nutrition research can be conducted in university-based medical centers, food science labs and sports testing labs. If not associated with a teaching assignment, these jobs are often grant-funded meaning outside funding from the government or other sources pays for the position as needed to complete a specific research project.
Lead nutrition researchers need a doctorate or to be currently enrolled in a program to earn one. In addition, research assistant positions exist for those with master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees.
Sometimes these positions are filled by students in the process of earning a higher degree.
If research is part of your nutrition job requirement your duties will include seeking grant funds to support your research projects. This is often done as part of a group of colleagues within your department or with individuals in other colleges and departments at the same or nearby universities. You will complete and submit grant applications, conduct research, perform evaluation, write and submit peer-reviewed journal articles, attend professional meetings and conferences to present your research, and oversee students assisting with your projects. Scientific researchers working at colleges and universities earn salaries between $31,643 and $58,731 per year.
Nutrition jobs focused on community outreach can be found within colleges and universities. For example, land-grant universities with a strong emphasis on agriculture house Cooperative Extension for the state. Those employed in the departments of consumer and family sciences within extension at the university level work closely with county offices to promote and implement nutrition programming. In addition, there are also jobs within the counties, as county agents, for which nutrition professionals can qualify.
Positions for these nutrition jobs include program managers, project managers, extension specialists and extension agents. A large portion of these jobs include the development of nutrition programming such as weight loss programs, food safety education, cooking, nutritious eating, gardening, and food security for low income groups.
At the state level as a specialist, project manager or program manager, day-to-day duties include writing curriculum, developing fact sheets, creating evaluation plans and organizing trainings for county agent. You will also be part of state level coalitions and task forces promoting health and nutrition which will allow you to work with individuals in public health, government and private practice. You will attend conferences for professional development and to present information about your programs. In addition, you may have to seek external grant funding for your projects.
At the county level as an agent, duties include program development and adaptation, teaching workshops for the community, corresponding with state level staff, attending trainings, and participating in local coalitions and task forces. Some county level staff may also seek grants to fund their local projects.
Extension specialists may also have a position as a tenure-track professor which includes a research assignment. This position requires a graduate level degree and usually also requires status as a Registered Dietitian. There are also extension specialist positions requiring a master’s degree. Program manager and project manager positions most often require a master’s degree and may require status as a Registered Dietitian although positions for nutritionists are also sometimes available. A county agent position requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but does not require status as a Registered Dietitian. In some cases, positions such as community nutrition educators and assistants can be found which require education levels from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree.
In addition to extension, colleges and universities also employ nutrition professionals through employee wellness programs, student recreation departments, and hospitals and medical clinics if there is a medical college on site. These positions are available for those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition. In some cases, you must also be a Registered Dietitian to be qualified, but some positions do exist for nutritionists. These nutrition jobs require one-on-one consultation with clients and offer nutrition consultation, diet analysis, and diet advice. The ability to understand and promote behavior change is essential as well as knowledge of appropriate eating for weight loss and working with individuals managing diseases such as diabetes. These nutrition jobs may also require nutrition program development and evaluation, and teaching group workshops.
In general dietitians or nutritionists working in a college or university setting make a salary of $33,971 to $45,853 per year. Those working specifically in cooperative extension have estimated salaries based on college degree and experience. County agents with a bachelor’s degree earn an average salary of $44,092, while those with a master’s degree earn an average salary of $57,224. State specialists with a master’s degree earn an average salary of $62,369 while those with a doctorate earn an average salary of $90,679.
Nutrition jobs in university or college administration include department heads, assistant and associate deans of programs and departments, and deans of colleges and programming. All of these positions in nutrition require a doctorate and most require status as a Registered Dietitian.
These positions are typically obtained later in your career after you have worked as a professor, researcher or specialist. Administration jobs have little involvement with students and the day-to-day operations of coursework or community programming. Individuals in these positions oversee the work of professors and researchers, and report to heads of their colleges or university. They approve the work of professors and researchers, sign off on grant applications, hire new faculty and staff, approve salaries and ensure their departments meet the demands requested by higher level officials within the college or university.
College administrators earn a median salary range of $41,378 to $71,234 per year. College deans with 10 to 19 years of experience earn a median salary ranging from $62,700 to $96,102.