Career opportunities in food and nutrition

Food and nutrition is a vast subject. It not only limits you to yourself (what, when and how much to eat) but to the entire world. It’s a broad term. It is about impact of food on our health and helping people in improving the quality of their life through the food they eat. One of the largest growing fields in today’s world is NUTRITION. In fact, with obesity on rise and more people concerned with the link between diet and overall quality of life, the demand for nutritionist and dieticians is increasing day by day. Nutrition jobs offer a host of rewarding ways to improve people’s lives through food. One can enjoy the feelings of pride and satisfaction that come from helping people thrive. And the diverse nature of the field means you’ll probably never be bored. Nutrition-related jobs exist in a huge range of employment sectors, from health care and education to food service and manufacturing. You could potentially work in hospitals, schools, wellness centers, corporate cafeterias, research labs, and many other settings. With food and nutrition careers, there’s plenty to explore and plenty of ways to make a difference. From a public health perspective alone, there’s still a ton of work to be done in this area. For example, many of us are not aware of recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables in our diets. Majority of population consumes too much saturated fat and added sugar. And many of us are either overweight or obese.
A degree in food and nutrition provides you with specialization in either of the three broad fields namely Therapeutics, Food Science & Processing and lastly Public Health and Nutrition. A graduate with a Bachelor in Science in Nutrition is qualified to work in number of areas such as:
Food Service Management
Food Service Directors work in a variety of setting including hospitals, long-term care and assisted living facilities, schools, colleges/universities, government facilities, etc.
Public Policy
Many government and private food and nutrition related organizations such as USDA, FDA, Health Management Organizations, insurance companies etc. employ individuals who are experts in public policy (food safety, dietary guidelines, and food regulations).
Food Safety:
Private and government agencies hire food safety inspectors to ensure that government regulations for food safety and food manufacturing are being upheld. They are responsible for inspecting restaurants and other food service facilities to ensure compliance with food safety regulations.
Culinary Science
Culinary specialists may work in food industry (eg. Test kitchen, recipe development), food service management (eg. Menu development for schools or healthcare facilities, etc.), or education/communication (eg. Community classes, television cooking shows, or food journalism). Students pursuing a career in culinary science should have a strong knowledge of foods, an experienced palate, good problem solving skills, and strong communication skills. They should be creative, detail-oriented and organized. Students interested in this career track may require knowledge in advanced food science and cooking, food chemistry and microbiology, food safety, general nutrition, marketing, advertising and public speaking.
Sustainable Nutrition/Food Systems
Students may pursue a career that engages and educates individuals and communities in topics of sustainable nutrition and health by connecting them with food producers and the production of food, helping organizations become more sustainable and teaching about local food systems. Experts in this area serve as resources or consultants to schools, community education programs, farmers markets and other organizations for the development and implementation of farm-to-fork, farm-to-school, community gardening, and other programs.
Health and Wellness
Students may work for Health Management Organizations, health clubs, corporate wellness facilities or in private practice as health coaches or consultants/educators on topics related to nutrition, cooking and health.
Corporate wellness consultant
A growing number of private businesses and corporations are hiring wellness consultants to provide guidance on healthy eating and exercise habits. These consultants might offer general tips on nutrition and health or lead seminars on how office workers can manage stress or avoid muscle fatigue.
Food labeling specialist
Food labeling specialists are responsible for coming up with the nutritional labels on food products. They make sure that product ingredients, nutritional facts, and allergen warnings are accurate and in line with industry regulations. They might also be in charge of getting the legal approval to use labels such as gluten-free.
Food safety auditor
Reviewing and analyzing the safety and sanitation procedures at companies that process, manufacture, or serve food is the primary focus of food safety auditors. They conduct inspections, write reports, and sometimes educate workers on policies and procedures.
Public health nutritionist
Public health nutritionists strive to improve the nutritional habits and overall health of a specific community or population group. They don’t generally work with individual clients. They identify nutritional problems and develop institutional programs and strategies to address those issues.
Nutrition services manager
Schools, hospitals, care facilities, and other institutions rely on nutrition services managers to plan and coordinate the large-scale delivery of nutritionally appropriate meals. This role involves planning menus, procuring supplies, managing budgets, and overseeing food preparation.
Humanitarian nutritionist
Focusing on malnutrition and hunger in disaster zones or developing countries can be a rewarding way to put your nutritional knowledge to work. Humanitarian nutritionists evaluate the food supply systems in different areas and develop programs to fill any nutritional gaps. They might set up a mobile center to treat malnourished children or advise villagers on the best items to plant in a communal vegetable garden.
Pharmaceutical Companies
Employees work as a part of a team with various health and business professionals to test new medications and supplements, or develop new products.
Hospitals or other health-care facilities: educating patients about nutrition and administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the health-care team.
Sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs
Educating clients about the connection between food, fitness and health.
Universities and medical centers: teaching physician’s assistants, nurses, dietetics students, dentists and others the science of foods and nutrition.
Research areas: directing or conducting experiments in food and pharmaceutical companies, universities and hospitals to answer critical nutrition questions and find alternative foods or nutrition recommendations for the public.
Institutions
Various colleges offering graduation in fields related to food and nutrition are namely Lady Irwin College (Delhi University), Institute of Home Economics (Delhi University), Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Science (Delhi University), Gargi College (Delhi University), Bhaskaracharya College of Applied Science (Delhi University), Bundelkhand University, Punjab University, Jammu University. Apart from these there are number of private universities which offer specialization courses namely Institute of Hotel Management (New Delhi), Amity University (Noida), Food Craft Institute (Jammu & Kashmir). After competing graduation one can also opt for short term certificate courses to add on to their experience. Distant and correspondence education (IGNOU) is also available for the same. Remember, these are just some of the institutes and the list is endless. Choice of colleges and university depends upon one’s convenience and upon the preferred line of career which one would like to pursue. Most of the colleges conduct an entrance exam for admissions while some on merit basis.

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