Career Development

Education: Second College Degrees to Consider

January 11, 2017   /
Nutrition411 Staff

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has developed a career development guide to help registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) and registered dietitians (RDs) identify their skill levels and frame the future of their career. According to the Academy’s Nutrition and Dietetics Career Development Guide, RDNs and RDs fall at one of five levels of practice—novice, beginner, competent, proficient, and expert. According to the Academy’s 2013 Compensation and Benefits Survey, increased education and job responsibility relate to increased compensation.

To achieve a level of  “proficient” or  “expert,” an advanced degree is sometimes required. This article contains some areas of study that can help RDNs and RDs advance their career path and/or employment options.

Nutrition and dietetics

An advanced degree in nutrition (a master’s or doctorate degree) can increase employment opportunities and allow you to specialize in a specific area of nutrition (eg, health promotion, international nutrition, or nutrition research).

Food science and technology

Food science and technology majors learn about chemistry, engineering, biology, and nutrition to preserve, process, package, and distribute foods, as well as the interaction of food constituents with each other and their environment. Industrial food scientists are needed in food quality management, processing, research and development, marketing, and distribution. Governmental agencies and independent testing laboratories often hire food scientists for administrative positions.

Course work commonly includes studying regulatory and quality standards, biology, food bacteriology, sensory evaluation, food packaging science and technology, nutragenomics, food chemistry and analysis, statistics, food engineering, and food processing. 

Family and consumer sciences

Students majoring in family and consumer sciences study about child development, family relations, consumer economics, personal finance, fashion design and textiles, housing and interior design, and nutrition. Individuals with degrees in family and consumer sciences most often go into teaching (middle and secondary grades), consumer affairs, cooperative extension programs, or public affairs.

These degree programs focus on learning ways to strengthen home and family life and to prevent problems such as eating disorders, child abuse, debt, inadequate housing, consumer fraud, and obesity. Classroom instruction, laboratory and field experiences, and supervised student teaching at the middle-school and high-school levels are major parts of these programs.


A blend of food science and culinary arts is offered by these new programs. The goal for culinologists is to assist the food industry in creating efficient and economical ways of manufacturing foods that have the same appearance and taste as restaurant-quality foods.

Culinologists work in research and development, public health, quality control, food engineering, food processing, the restaurant industry, packaging or ingredient manufacturing, government agencies, sensory laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, or health care firms.

Typical course work includes biology, nutrition sciences, food service management, chemistry, applied mathematics, cost control, food production, facility layout and design, research, and culinary arts and design.

Public health

People with degrees in public health often work for health departments, with jobs varying from food safety inspectors and policy analysts to epidemiologists and many others. Public health professionals also often find work as researchers for university systems, nonprofit organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and health insurance companies.

Many different tracks exist including master of public health, master of health administration, master of health services administration, master of science in public health, doctor of public health, and doctor of philosophy. Course work for a master of public health degree generally consists of administration, epidemiology, environmental health, behavioral health, biostatistics, and research.

Business and/or business communications

A business degree can allow specialty in a number of areas, including economics, marketing, business information systems, or accounting. Individuals with degrees in business communications learn how to communicate with people outside the organization, handling everything from ad campaigns to public-relations crises. Students of business communications go on to become speech writers, desktop publishers, grant writers, and spokespersons for organizations.


References and recommended readings

Career Development Guide. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website [with membership]. Accessed October 20, 2014.

Rogers D. Compensation and benefits survey 2013: education and job responsibility key to increased compensation. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114(1):17-33. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.11.008.