Associate’s Degree in Nutrition

A good education in nutrition and dietetics starts with getting an associate degree. This type of degree can prepare you for many entry-level jobs, as well as careers, in the growing field of nutrition and dietetics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs for dietitians and nutritionists are expected to grow by 8 percent (a rate much faster than the average for all other occupations) between 2019 and 2029. As scientists and laypeople are discovering, food and nutrition plays a huge role in preventing and treating diseases. More dietitians and nutritionists, as well as dietary assistants and technicians, will be needed to provide care for patients with medical conditions, as well as to advise and counsel people who want to improve their overall health.

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. 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.

Featured Nutritionist Programs

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 this field 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)

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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 here). Examples of careers in nutrition that are available for associate degree in nutrition holders include (but are not limited to):

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. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for Dietetic Technicians as of May 2020 is $32,920. Top-paying industries in which Dietetic Technicians work include:

  • Grantmaking and Giving Services: $46,550
  • Outpatient Care Centers: $39,780
  • Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools: $38,880
  • State Government: $38,130
  • Local Government: $37,070

The highest-paying states in which Dietetic Technicians work are as follows:

  • Oregon: $46,580
  • Washington: $45,490
  • Rhode Island: $43,080
  • New York: $41,990
  • Alaska: $41,860

Job opportunities for dietetic technicians are expected to grow by six percent from 2019 through 2029. This growth rate is faster than the average projected growth rate for all other occupations. Approximately 2500 new job openings for dietetic technicians are projected to occur during the decade.