Associate’s Degree or Certificate in Nutrition

College student studying for an associate's in nutrition

Those who are exploring the potential of working in nutrition and dietetics often wonder, what educational certificate or degree will help me the most in embarking upon a career? Many entry-level positions in nutrition can be earned with an associate’s degree or a certificate in nutrition. Getting your associate’s degree is a great way to get a foot in the door when it comes to working in nutrition and dietetics.  While you cannot become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with an associate’s degree or certificate, there are many other possibilities for exciting, engaging carers in the nutrition field. 

Getting a bachelor’s degree, which many see as the standard degree necessary to enter the field of nutrition and dietetics, does not work for everyone. It might not be right for you if you are not sure about the field, if you cannot afford a bachelor’s degree program at the present time, or if other life obligations and commitments make getting a bachelor’s degree impossible for you right now. 

One size degree definitely does not fit all. An associate’s degree or certificate program takes less time to complete (from one to two years on average) than a bachelor’s degree program. Shorter programs like certificates and associate’s degree programs are also much more affordable than bachelor’s (or master’s) degree programs in nutrition and dietetics. As you will see in this article, earning an associate’s degree or certificate can greatly benefit you if you are considering a profession in nutrition.

What Jobs in Nutrition Can I Get with an Associate’s Degree or Certificate?

Numerous nutrition jobs exist for those who hold an associate’s degree or a certificate in nutrition and/or dietetics. Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR) is one of the most popular outcomes for those who are pursuing an associate degree in nutrition. There are many other career pathways that are options for certificate and/or associate’s degree holders. They include, but are not limited to:

Accreditation for Certificate and Associate’s Degree Programs in Nutrition

One of the most important considerations when you are choosing a certificate or associate’s degree program in nutrition is to find a program that is accredited. At least, the program you choose should be accredited by an agency that has received recognition from the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation agencies that you should look for when choosing a nutrition associate’s degree or certificate program include:

Institutional Accreditation Agencies

Programmatic Accreditation Agencies

Additionally, if you are planning to pursue a career as a NDTR, you must select a degree program that has received accreditation from ACEND, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. We have compiled a list of ACEND-accredited Dietetic Technician programs here for your convenience. Other programmatic accreditation or approval bodies include:

  • National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (AATE)
  • American Society for Nutrition (ASN)
  • Accreditation Council for Nutrition Professional Education (ACNPE)

Examples of Titles of Associate’s Degree and Certificate Programs in Nutrition

Countless associate’s degree and certificate programs in nutrition are available from various sources—some reputable, some not. Once again, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by one of the above-mentioned agencies. Some examples of titles of certificate and associate’s degree programs in nutrition that you will find include (but are not limited to):

Associate’s Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Integrative Health Services with Holistic Nutrition Specialization
  • Associate of Arts in Nutritional Sciences
  • Associate of Science in Applied Nutrition
  • Associate of Science in Dietetic Technology
  • Associate of Science in Food and Nutrition
  • Associate of Science in Integrative Nutrition
  • Associate of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Associate of Science in Nutritional Science and Diet Technology

Certificate Programs:

  • Dietary Manager Training (DMT) Certificate
  • Community Nutrition Worker (CNW) Certificate
  • Nutrition and Health Promotion (NHP) Certificate
  • Nutrition and Foodservice Professional Training Program (NFSPTP) Certificate
  • Nutrition and Dietetic Technology Certificate
  • Dietary Services Supervisor Certificate
  • Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture
  • Certificate in Food Service/Dietary Management

Coursework in an Associate’s Degree or Certificate in Nutrition Program

An associate’s degree program in nutrition will contain general education courses as well as specialized dietary courses, such as:

  • Applied Food Science
  • Community Nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Dietetic Internship
  • Food and Culture
  • Food Service Management
  • Human Nutrition
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Nutrition Medical Terminology
  • Nutrition Through the Life Cycle
  • Weight Management

If you opt to earn a certificate in nutrition, classes will vary widely depending upon the certificate you have chosen.

Salaries for Associate’s Degree and Certificate Holders in Nutrition 

You can find more detailed information on salaries for Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered (NDTR), a popular career track for associate’s degree holders in nutrition, on our salary page. Some other salaries for careers that require a certificate or associate’s degree in nutrition, as of 2023, per, are:

  • Animal Nutrition Tech: $35,800 annually
  • Certified Dietary Manager: $49,920 annually
  • Community Nutrition Worker: $40,000 annually
  • Dietary Aide: $30,000 annually 
  • Food Service Associate: $25,563 annually
  • Food Service Associate: $35,000 annually
  • Health Coach: $32,739 annually
  • Holistic Nutritionist: $40,000 annually
  • Nutrition Assistant: $37,000 annually
  • Nutrition Product Sales Rep: $31,200 annually
  • Nutrition Program Assistant: $26,915 annually
  • Nutritional Aide:  $23,774 annually
  • Weight Loss Counselor: $40,000 annually