What career path in nutrition do you want to follow? If you’re not into community or clinical paths, or just want to experience something different and refreshing, what path would you possibly take?
What about a career in quality assurance or animal nutrition?
Quality assurance includes the methods behind ensuring that foods meet “a degree or level of excellence” in several areas, including safety, sanitation, taste, appearance, and nutrition. You might imagine this as the scientist chemically testing food composition, the person who takes temperatures of cooked foods, or even the person walking the trayline at a hospital to ensure the foods look good and palatable. Quality assurance should certainly always play a role in anything we do as food and nutrition professionals, but there is actually an entire job profile dedicated to this specific duty available in food companies, community programs, and clinical practices, called a quality assurance manager or a food quality manager.
What work would you perform as a quality assurance manager?:
- Ensure food equipment is clean and in working order
- Ensure cooked or prepared food has met standards to prevent contamination
- Ensure food has actually escaped contamination (which is where microbiology courses come in handy)
- Ensure food is presented in a nice and palatable manner
While that might sound like boring, technical work, the job of a quality assurance manager is extremely important in any food company or food service — hence why many companies list openings for this job on its own.
Requirements to become a Quality Assurance Manager
Degrees in nutrition sciences, food science, chemistry, or microbiology will suffice depending on the particular company you choose to work with, and you might need to obtain some specific certifications as well.
Pet and Animal Nutrition
Next we move on to a new field of nutrition work: pet and animal nutrition. From professionals working in wildlife to understand the eating patterns of otters, deer, and even crocodiles to the people working behind the scenes on your puppies’ and kitties’ favorite food, animal nutrition is an entirely unique arena of nutrition knowledge. This is certainly far separate from the human nutrition we may all be familiar with in our curriculum, but it’s an interesting field to learn about and maybe even one day explore. So what kinds of jobs could you get in pet and animal nutrition?
- Livestock nutrition. Pros working in this capacity determine the composition and quantity of livestock feed that will best promote the animal’s milk production and nutritional quality, among many other factors important in food production.
- Pet nutrition. If you have pets like I do, this area has probably been an interest to you at some point; we want the best for our furry kids and that obviously includes proper nutrition. But if you take the leap to become a professional well-versed in this area, that might involve anything between becoming a full-on veterinarian with a pet nutrition specialty to working in the pet food plants as a quality assurance inspector.
- Wildlife nutrition. Working in wildlife nutrition (which is as totally awesome as it sounds) can mean everything from studying the eating behaviors of a wild animal species, feeding a wild animal in captivity (like sweet little river otters), to intervening in a nutrition-related problem that is threatening a species, like the lack of viable plant foods in populations of deer.
Requirements to become an Animal Nutritionist
Many colleges offer programs and concentrations in animal nutrition (including UNR!), but for the most part you will just need any degree with biology, chemistry, and other basic science coursework (unless you are also intent on becoming a veterinarian, which requires veterinary school, of course).
Based on this info, which of the careers above sounds awesome to you? Would you ever consider working in quality assurance or being an animal nutritionist? Let me know in the comments below!
[Collaboration provided by Meagan Levitt]