These professionals also direct activities such as coordinating testing, quality control and production of any nutrition-based research, policies and general recommendations.
While a graduate degree may not be a requirement for this position today, one should consider the need for a master’s degree to be competitive in the future. Starting in 2024, a master’s degree will be required to sit for the Registered Dietitian (RD) license. Expanding your educational background may not only prepare you to explore higher-level positions such as dietetics and nutrition manager, but also to elevate yourself to the same level as soon-to-be RDs.
Finding a degree program that provides you with the right focus is essential. According to Maryann Smitt, an acute care therapeutic nutrition specialist at Abbott Nutrition, it’s important for your master’s degree to help you develop transferrable skills in the areas that interest you most. She earned her Master of Science in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) through the online program at ASU. This degree, based on the scientific foundations of nutrition, reinforces the development of skills essential in health science, including project management, interpretation of research literature, critical inquiry and problem-solving. Designed with working professionals in mind, the online MS in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) is available to RDs with at least one year of professional experience.
A typical day in the life of a dietetics and nutrition manager
The main activities for a dietetics and nutrition manager revolve around developing plans for research and overseeing scientific work. On a daily basis, this includes ensuring lab operations are carried out safely and that working scientists are adhering to proper standards and regulations. Scientific and technical knowledge is essential for those in this position, since you’ll need to fully comprehend your employees’ work and provide technical support when necessary.
Outside the lab, your day can be filled with conceptualizing original research projects for your team based on scientific or technical goals related to your specific area of expertise. You are also responsible for hiring, supervising and evaluating staff both inside and outside the lab.
A closer look at the professional landscape of a dietetics and nutrition manager
Being a research manager in a particular field of study often requires at least a master’s degree along with a bachelor’s in the natural sciences. In some cases, a Ph.D. may even be necessary. Smitt suggests approaching your graduate degree with focus, tenacity and networking to get the most out of the process and prepare you for the next steps in your career.
The median wage for this position, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is around $119,000. Your amount of professional experience can also contribute to your eligibility and salary.
Becoming a dietetics and nutrition manager
A wide array of skills coupled with the right educational background may present the best combination to become a successful dietetics and nutrition manager. Because a master’s degree is most often required, it’s important to find a program that combines the science and research with the soft skills necessary in management-level positions. The online MS in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) from ASU presents a rigorous, high-caliber education for those interested in advancing their skills as a practitioner.
In addition to the strong scientific knowledge one needs to become a dietetics and nutrition manager, these important qualities are integral for development, according to the BLS:
- Communication skills. Both written and oral communication are important, as individuals in this role can be asked to address a variety of audiences such as scientists, policymakers and the public.
- Critical-thinking skills. This relates to the ability to carefully evaluate the work of others to determine whether the staff’s methods and results are based on sound science.
- Interpersonal skills. Leading a research team necessitates the ability to work well with others to reach common goals. You should be able to deal with conflict effectively, turning issues into positive outcomes for your organization.
- Problem-solving skills. Using scientific observation and analysis to find answers to complex technical questions is a key component to the responsibilities of anyone in research and development.
- Time-management skills. Dietetics and nutrition managers must be able to perform multiple administrative, supervisory and technical tasks while ensuring projects remain on schedule.
Learn more about your potential career as a dietetics and nutrition manager
“It’s incredibly rewarding to know you went through a program that was clearly well-conceived, with dedicated instructors who supported you through the program and got you to the finish line,” says Smitt when reflecting on her time as a graduate student at Arizona State University.
The online MS in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) has not only helped her find success in her “day job” but has also opened the door to teaching opportunities to educate the next generation of health science professionals.
Regardless of what path you take in the field of dietetics and nutrition, having the right education, like Smitt’s, can be highly beneficial. The non-thesis MS in Nutritional Science (Dietetics) degree program offered online at ASU through the College of Health Solutions is designed with working professionals and students’ learning preferences in mind to provide a varied and useful education. By offering both a full-time and part-time program, ASU strives to meet the needs of its student population interested in exploring their career options in health science.