Nutrition and Fitness Career Information

Nutrition and Fitness Career Information

More than one third of American adults are considered obese according to the Centers for Disease Control, and that fact alone ensures that nutrition and fitness experts should remain in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all health diagnosing and treating practitioners is expected to increase 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, or almost twice as fast as the average for all occupations combined.

Although nutrition and fitness careers vary greatly in scope and responsibility, all nutrition and fitness experts share the common goal of improving their client's overall well-being and health. Some of the most common tasks performed by these professionals are as follows:

  • Create diet and/or exercise plans for patients and clients in their care.
  • Counsel patients on nutrition, diet, and health.
  • Assess patient fitness and health levels.
  • Demonstrate exercises and activities that can improve patient health.
  • Monitor client progress to make sure they are meeting their goals.

Although there are many types of nutrition and fitness careers, the following occupations are the most popular in this field, according to data from the BLS:

  • Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists
  • Dietetic Technicians
  • Dietitians and Nutritionists
  • Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors

Top Careers in Nutrition and Fitness (BLS, 2013)

Career Number of Workers Nationally in 2013 Job Description Degree Requirements
Dietitians and Nutritionists 59,530 Dietitians and nutritionists help clients meet weight loss goals or achieve optimal health by counseling them on proper nutrition. They help clients make nutritious choices when it comes to meal planning, monitor their weight loss or progress, and create long-term meal plans that can help them stay on track. According to the BLS, most dietitians and nutritionists earn a Bachelor's degree and complete an internship. Many also earn advanced degrees, such as Master's degrees in Nutrition.
Athletic Trainers 22,340 Athletic trainers create training and recovery plans for injured athletes. They apply protective gear, create exercise plans meant to strengthen or heal damaged or strained muscles, and keep records of athlete's progress. According to the BLS, athletic trainers and exercise physiologists typically earn a Bachelor's degree from an accredited university. However, Master's degrees are also common.
Dietetic Technicians 26,420 Dietetic technicians work under the supervision of registered dieticians. Required tasks vary greatly due to the specific position, but most dietetic technicians oversee some type of food service, whether in a wellness club, restaurant, hospital, or long-term care facility. They may teach nutrition classes in an informal setting, manage food service employees, or develop menus that meet certain specifications. Most dietetic technicians earn an Associate degree and seek licensure as a Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR), reports the BLS.
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors 238,170 Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors create exercise programs and demonstrate them for groups and individuals. They monitor clients to make sure they are performing various exercises correctly and teach proper techniques that minimize soreness and injuries. According to the BLS, postsecondary education is not always required for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors. However, many choose to earn Associate and Bachelor's degrees in fields such as exercise science or physical education.

Nutrition and Fitness Career Education

All nutrition and fitness careers come with different educational and physical requirements that vary greatly depending on the specific job. Even though some nutrition and fitness careers may not require a college degree, postsecondary education is almost always beneficial since it shows employers that you have taken the time to learn as much as you can about your industry. The following table uses BLS data to outline the different degree options in this field, and what kind of career they may help you qualify for:

Degree Type Timeline for Completion Possible Careers
Associate Associate degrees can typically be completed with two years of full-time study. However, programs completed on a part-time basis may take longer. Dietetic Technicians, Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors
Bachelor's Bachelor's degree programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete. Dietitians and Nutritionists, Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists, Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors
Master's Students can earn a Master's degree in 1-3 years after earning a Bachelor's degree. Dietitians and Nutritionists, Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists


"Bureau of Labor Statistics," May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Dietitians and Nutritionists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm#tab-1

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers-and-exercise-physiologists.htm

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Fitness Trainers and Instructors, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm#tab-1

Schools for Nutrition and Fitness are listed in the column to the left.

Careers and Salary Data

This table shows summary data on occupations in the US. Clicking on any occupation name brings you to a page showing job prospects and salaries for that occupation in hundreds of metro areas across the country, with data updated through 2022.(Where data is denoted by an asterisk (*), summary info was not available.

Click each Occupation title for more details.

Nutrition & Fitness

Occupation Jobs
Median Pay
% Growth
Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists 23,450     $44,670     21.1%
Dietetic Technicians 28,950     $26,040     13.3%
Dietitians and Nutritionists 59,740     $57,910     16.4%
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors 237,760     $36,160     8.4%
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