How Do I Become an Animal Nutritionist?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

In most cases, you will need post-secondary education to become an animal nutritionist. You will likely need to pursue a bachelor's degree followed by a master's degree in a related major to qualify for this job. You may also benefit from participating in internships and volunteer positions that help you build on your knowledge of animal health and gain experience working with animals. Then, with your degrees and experience in hand, you can seek a job as an animal nutritionist. You often can find openings for this type of position at zoos, animal hospitals or shelters, science companies, or animal food production businesses — you may even consider pursuing this career as a consultant to private animal owners.

Veterinarians may also serve as an animal nutritionist.
Veterinarians may also serve as an animal nutritionist.

In order to become an animal nutritionist, you will typically have to earn a high school or equivalent diploma and then go on to pursue a college degree. To qualify for this job, you will need to earn an undergraduate degree in a subject that is related to science or health. Some likely major choices include agriculture, biology, and zoology. You could also consider seeking a degree in veterinary science in preparation for this career. No matter what type of degree program you choose, however, you will likely have the best chance for success if you take a significant number of animal- or health-related courses as part of it.

Animal nutritionists might have animal experience caring for livestock.
Animal nutritionists might have animal experience caring for livestock.

Advanced education also is usually required when you want to become an animal nutritionist. For instance, you could earn a master's degree or even go on to pursue a doctoral degree in a related subject. You may benefit most from earning the advanced degree in animal nutrition. If such a program is not available to you, however, you can seek an advanced degree in a closely related field, such as zoology.

Animal nutritionists may gain experience working at a local zoo.
Animal nutritionists may gain experience working at a local zoo.

Gaining hands-on experience may also prove helpful as you prepare to become an animal nutritionist. For example, you can take advantage of volunteer opportunities and internships to learn more about animals and gain experience working with them. You typically can find such opportunities in labs, zoos, animal hospitals, and shelters.

Shelters often employ animal nutritionists.
Shelters often employ animal nutritionists.

Once you've earned related degrees and gained experience, you can start job hunting. Job opportunities in this field are available in a range of different types of companies and organizations. For example, zoos, animal care facilities, and animal food production companies usually hire animal nutritionists. Aquariums, animal rescues, and science companies are good places to look for a job as well.

Animal nutritionists need to be familiar with the needs of a variety of animals.
Animal nutritionists need to be familiar with the needs of a variety of animals.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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