April 29, 2011 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Careers related to nutrition/diet that don't involve working with people as clients/patients?

I'm trying to figure out a career path. I have an interest in diet and nutrition/supplements, but no schooling in that regard. A friend suggested that I become a nutritionist/dietician. I looked up some jobs and it seems to involve working in a hospital or nursing home to recommend diets or I assume also in a practice in a client patient relationship.

My preferences lean towards problem solving/troubleshooting, research (reading and writing as opposed to labs) and interacting with peers (who share similar interests and can collaborate with).

From my recollections of labs in school make me think that I would be very unhappy/bored in a lab setting.

I also have no schooling in this area of expertise.

I am wondering if this is a path worth pursuing?

I am approaching 40 and am trying to figure out a new career path.
posted by mbird to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Various organizations (non-profits, food companies, pharmaceutical companies, supplement companies, publishing companies) hire dietitians to do nutritional analysis of recipes or products (using software, not necessarily in a laboratory, though certainly a lot of nutrition-related research CAN involve labs or working with study participants).

Not working with clients/patients may be a challenge -- but the jobs do exist. I'd recommend you get started by checking out info from the ADA.
posted by hansbrough at 10:19 PM on April 29, 2011

Public Health Nutrition! Check this out: (look at the one about Noel Mueller).


Public Health Nutrition majors go on to do a lot of things, including becoming registered dietitians who get to make individual level change, as well as doing much more structural level changes through nutrition research/etc.
posted by Betty's Table at 10:22 PM on April 29, 2011

Oh, I'm sorry - I see you *don't* want to do individual level work. EVEN BETTER then for you to check out public health, since it approaches health (including nutrition) on a population level. An MPH takes about 2 years to get and can lead to many different job opportunities in many different settings.
posted by Betty's Table at 10:24 PM on April 29, 2011

I recently learned that a large part of what the pediatric pharmacists at my university's hospital do is work with nutritionists to create individualized formulas for the neonatal and pediatric patients. I don't know for sure, but it seems like patient contact would be minimal here.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:42 PM on April 29, 2011

I'll second the above recommendations for a public health track, particularly one in health education / health communication.

Something like this Nutrition Communication degree from Tufts. (Google shows a few other similar programs at UNC and elsewhere, so you may be able to find a program near you or online.)

This could be a good path because health comm / health ed does require great research/writing skills, as well as a strong understanding of the underlying health / medical issues, but doesn't necessarily have to involve patient interaction or happen in a clinical setting AT ALL. Plenty of health info is online now. Or, you could end up working for a state health department writing nutrition info for their WIC recipients (or something). Feel free to MeMail if you have other questions about non-clinical jobs in health comm / health ed.
posted by pants at 5:58 AM on April 30, 2011

I had the exact same interest and started a masters degree in nutrition distance learning program. There is a difference between becoming a dietician (R.D.) (ADA stuff) which only requires a bachelors and is a the nursing home/schools type of thing where you devise menus and eating plans based on the ADA guidelines. the other side of the coin is what I was doing, getting an advanced degree in nutrition with the idea of going out on my own and #1 becoming a consultant, #2 writing a book/web site, #3 working for a supplement company, #4 finding some interesting position researching. the masters I was pursuing was all about learning the medical side of nutrition, lots of chemistry, biochemistry, stuff like that, very cool and interesting. I did drop it for many reasons, but it was very enjoyable material. Keep in mind when looking at schools that, if you are looking at the masters level, there are different courses to pursue - courses that lead to becoming an R.D. (registered dietician) and courses that do not and prep you for a PhD or research etc, like what I was doing.
posted by cerebral at 8:12 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

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