A good education in nutrition and dietetics starts with getting an associate degree. An associate degree can prepare you for many entry-level jobs in the field of nutrition and dietetics.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for dietitians and nutritionists are expected to grow by 11 percent (a rate much faster than the average for all other occupations) between 2020 and 2030.* A rising senior population with specific nutritional needs and an overall increase in the number of people who appreciate the connection between a healthy diet and overall health and well-being will create a growing demand for nutritionists and dietitians in the coming years.
You can begin to work in this field with an associate degree. Read on to discover how getting an associate degree in nutrition can benefit you.
Why Should You Earn an Associate Degree in Nutrition?
Although some people may choose to jump into a bachelor’s degree program to begin their studies in nutrition and dietetics, this isn’t possible for everyone. Some people are fairly sure that the field of nutrition and dietetics is for them, but want to start out slowly, getting an associate degree to test the waters. Others might not be able to afford the cost of a bachelor’s degree program in nutrition right now and instead, opt for the less expensive two-year associate’s degree. Still others might be interested in becoming a dietetic technician and only need an associate degree to do so. Whatever the reason, there are many options for you to pursue an associate degree in nutrition and dietetics.
Cost of a 2-Year Nutrition Degree
Costs for associate degree programs in nutrition are much lower than those of a bachelor’s degree program, enabling you to complete your studies and begin a career in nutrition and dietetics more quickly.
The following bachelors and Master’s programs offer career-focused instruction delivered by trained nutritionists with experience in the field. Find out more what each individual course of study offers through the locations below.
American University offers two different programs focused on Nutrition and Health. Their Online Master of Science in Nutrition Education will prepare you to become an influential leader in nutrition education and advocacy while promoting nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices in your community and beyond. Or Earn your Master of Science in Health Promotion Management from AU’s award-winning program in just 20 months with $10K available in scholarships upon enrollment (qualifier is a 3.0 GPA).
UNC's MPH Nutrition concentration prepares students to provide, evaluate and communicate nutritional and dietary guidance that improves individual and population-wide health outcomes. In addition to developing their knowledge of nutrition science, students will explore behavior change, communication, counseling and the effects of dietary culture on individuals and communities.
Arizona State University - Online offers an Online Master of Science in Nutritional Science - Dietetics. Along with an Online Masters in Medical Nutrition
Bay Path University's health and wellness certificates build the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to upskill your abilities in your profession or to provide a robust concentration to your degree program for a specific role. Learn more about the Certificate in Food Science and Safety certificate.
If you want to work in fitness and nutrition, take the first step toward a new career with one of Penn Foster's accredited, online fitness and training programs. These affordable programs are all offered online, and can be taken at your own pace.
Grand Canyon University offers an M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Winthrop University offers an Online Master of Science in Human Nutrition and an Online Master of Science in Sport and Fitness Administration
What Types of Personalities Should Pursue Nutrition Education?
According to CareerExplorer.com, those who work in nutrition and dietetics score high on the investigative and social traits on the Holland Codes. They are curious and inquisitive people who thrive in situations in which they can interact with and help others.
Some important qualities a person working in the field of nutrition should have include (but are not limited to):
- Analytical mind and good critical thinking skills
- Good organizational skills
- People skills
- Communication skills- both in writing and speaking
- Technical skills to work with various equipment and tools
- Active listening skills
- Ability to understand complex written documents
- Great problem-solving skills
- Ability to monitor performance (others and your own)
Find Nutrition Associate Degree Program Info for Your State
Examples of Associate Degrees in Nutrition
When you decide to study for an associate degree in nutrition, you should be sure to choose a program that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. There are many associate degrees in nutrition and dietetics available at colleges and universities across the nation.
A few examples include:
- Associate of Science in Nutrition
- Associate of Science in Dietetic Technology
- Associate of Science in Applied Nutrition
- Associate of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics
- Associate of Arts in Nutrition and Dietetics – Emphasis in Nutritional Science
- Associate of Applied Science in Nutrition & Dietetics Technician
- Associate of Science in Dietary Manager
- Associate of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics Technician
Courses in an Associate Degree Program in Nutrition
Coursework that you can expect to take in an associate degree program in nutrition and dietetics or a related field include (but are not limited to):
- Introduction to Human Biology
- Intermediate Algebra
- Bio-organic Chemistry
- Computer Fundamentals & Applications
- Interpersonal Communication
- Introduction to Psychology
- Nutrition Assessment
- Foods Lab
- Fundamentals of Nutrition
- Medical Terminology
- Foodservice Purchasing and Production
- Medical Nutrition Therapy
- Food Protection Certification
- Community Nutrition
- Dietetic Practicum/Supervised Practice
Many associate degree programs in nutrition will include a dietetic supervised practice or internship. This is a supervised work program in which you will work under the direct supervision of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). It may occur in a variety of settings, from medical and healthcare facilities to schools to community nutrition centers and more.
Jobs and Career Tracks Available for Associate Degree in Nutrition Holders
For some, getting an associate degree can be a stepping stone towards getting a foot in the door in the field and going on for a bachelor’s degree (and, potentially, graduate degrees after that). Others will decide that getting the associate degree is enough for them and will find a career track immediately.
One of the most common career tracks for those holding an associate degree is dietetic technician, registered. This job also requires certification through the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Learn more about the certification process and the job of dietetic technician, registered.
Examples of careers in nutrition that are available for associate degree in nutrition holders include (but are not limited to):
- Dietetic Technician, Registered
- Pediatric Dietetic Technician
- Dietary Assistant
- Dietary Clerk
- Dietary Aide
- Nutrition Care Assistant
- Weight Loss Counselor
- Food Technologist
- Assistant Health and Nutrition Coach
- Nutrition Health Associate
- Health and Wellness Product Sales Representative
- Community Health Worker
- Non-licensed Nutritionist
Salaries for Associate Degree in Nutrition Holders
As mentioned above, one of the most common career tracks for associate degree nutrition holders is dietetic technician or dietetic technician, registered. According to the BLS, dietetic technicians earned an average salary of $31,180 as of May 2021.*
The highest paying states for dietetic technicians (according to average salary) during this time included:
- Oregon: $46,280
- Rhode Island: $45,140
- Alaska: $41,340
- New York: $41,130
- Washington: $40,950
Job opportunities for dietetic technicians are expected to grow by 7 percent between 2020 and 2030. During this ten-year period, this occupation will experience about 2,200 annual job openings due to a combination of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.*
*2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for dietitians and nutritionists and dietetic technicians reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2022.