Farmers and ranchers who rely on raising healthy livestock to earn their livelihoods seek out people with knowledge of animal and nutritional science to maintain their animals. Those who are interested in the dietary needs of animals can major in the subject alongside other students of veterinary science or agriculture. Animal nutritionists assess their clients' health status and create plans for improvement using nutrient rich foods as do nutritionists who serve humans. However, animal nutritionists must understand the physiological needs of various types of animals to effectively recommend dietary changes and healthful menu options. Here are some degree programs for which aspiring animal nutritionists participate as well as information about salary and career growth opportunities.
Popular Degree Programs for Animal Nutritionists
Students obtain any number of types of undergraduate degree programs to help them to prepare for careers in animal nutrition and some include forestry, biology and food science. However, many polish their skills with a Master of Science in Animal and Nutritional Science. Since the subject is broad, most programs offer students options to specialize in areas of interest like animal science, reproductive physiology and biochemistry. The length of this type of degree program lasts approximately two years, and the degree curriculum often includes a supervised internship opportunity. Although these types of degree programs are often expensive career investments, most university programs offer many sources of financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships and loans that are either need or merit based.
Career Growth Projections for Animal Nutritionists
Animal and nutritional science degree graduates have quality career opportunities available to them in the private, public and non-profit sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most graduates work as animal nutritional consultants for dairy, poultry or other animal production facilities, farms or manufacturing sites. Others find rewarding research related jobs within federal agencies or private universities. Veterinary hospitals and care facilities as well as animal nutritional consultants for zoos employ these graduates as well.
Animal Nutritionists Salary Range
According to the BLS, the median annual salary in 2013 for animal scientists that include nutritionists was $64,260. The highest and lowest reported annual salaries for the occupation for that same year were $123,670 and $36,370 respectively. Many factors such as experience, job location and responsibilities affect the salaries of animal nutritionists. For example, an animal nutritionist who works for a veterinary hospital in a rural, sparsely populated area may make significantly less than a peer working in an upscale city neighborhood. Alternately, animal nutritionists who are called upon to monitor and improve the nutritional status of exotic animals at high profile zoos can often command larger salaries because of their specialized knowledge and skills. The annual mean salaries for animal scientists that include nutritionists working in the category of "Support Activities for Animal Production" during 2013 represented the highest pay at $105,460.
Related Resource: Holistic Nutrition
Animal nutrition is a niche career category that works in conjunction with veterinary medicine. In fact, many veterinarians acquire some of their animal nutritional knowledge during their professional degree programs. However, farmers and ranchers who seek animal care services for their livestock are not the only ones who are fueling the demand for skilled nutritionists with animal science backgrounds. For example, some families' quests for wellness also extend to their furry family members, and they rely on the principles of animal and nutritional science to keep their pets healthy, happy and strong.