Nutrition Careers

The complex challenges of the next century demand agricultural professionals who can identify opportunities and devise innovative solutions. The broad knowledge base in animal nutrition at Iowa State University prepares students for rewarding careers.

In addition to research conducted in the laboratory and on farms, students enrolled in a graduate curriculum with an animal nutrition faculty member will receive a firm background in the biological and natural sciences. This foundation is essential for understanding the principles of animal nutrition. So that animal nutrition students can understand and fully appreciate the entire scope of animal science, most programs of study offer a flexible choice of support courses. A well-rounded program of study also will permit students to focus on such related disciplines as physiology, meats and muscle biology, growth and production physiology, genetic engineering, molecular biology, animal behavior, and management of livestock and companion animals. Students can also gain expertise in agricultural economics and the processing, quality control, product development, and marketing of meat, dairy, and poultry products.

Graduates find employment in academic teaching and research, extension education, industrial research in the food and feed industries, and in laboratory research programs with governmental and international agencies or with private corporations in the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries. In addition, professional consulting and industrial or institutional management positions are employment options that require a high level of scientific training. 

In government positions, graduates can help draft regulations governing the agriculture industry, or work directly in research. Universities, colleges, and other educational organizations employ persons with advanced animal sciences training as teachers, researchers, laboratory technicians, and extension specialists. Extension educators with animal nutrition training find professional teaching positions as state and area livestock specialists and county agricultural agents. Zoos, kennels, animal clinics, horse farms, animal preserves, and similar facilities offer many positions as animal nutritionists, caretakers, technicians, gamekeepers, and veterinary assistants.

Formal training in the basic animal sciences also provides essential background for professional careers in veterinary and human medicine, biotechnology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. 

Faculty in the animal nutrition program consider it their responsibility to assist students, as much as possible, in finding their first professional position. In fact, animal nutrition faculty assist their graduates throughout their lives. Visit our graduates of animal nutrition website to see what some of our graduates are up to.