A quick guide on how to hire a nutrition scientist, including what services they provide and how much it costs to work with a consultant or freelancer.
There is a growing demand for experts in nutrition. This is driven by two main factors: the increasing awareness of the role food plays in promoting health and preventing disease, and the lengthening of human life spans. More than ever before, people are taking charge of their health, monitoring what they eat, and using fitness devices and other wearable technologies to track their health indicators. In medicine, there is growing interest regarding the role of nutrition in preventative healthcare. While many communicable diseases are dropping in prevalence, non-communicable diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes are arguably reaching epidemic proportions in many regions of the world. Nutrition experts will play a key role in managing this emerging health crisis from individual to national levels. As an increasing number of small to medium sized businesses enter the market, more companies are looking to hire a nutrition scientist for advice on issues ranging from product formulation to public health.
What does a nutrition scientist do?
The main role of a nutritional scientist, or nutritionist, is to provide information regarding the types and quantities of foods people should eat. Nutrition science draws from multiple fields such as biology, medicine, chemistry, and the social sciences. Clinical nutrition focuses on the nutrition of patients in hospitals and clinics, whereas the applied nutrition sciences refer to the other areas of specialization such as sports nutrition and public health.
The specific roles nutrition experts play vary according to their experience and specialization (of which there are several). These include the following:
- Nutritional planning: Nutritionists and dieticians advise people and organizations on what to eat to promote health in general, to achieve a specific health-related goal (e.g., by drawing up a scientific diet for weight loss), or to manage a specific disease (e.g., diabetes). This includes developing meal plans for hospitals and staff canteens.
- Scientific research: Nutrition scientists research the interplay between diet, eating behaviors, and health to better understand the role food plays in health and disease. For example, in the area of nutrigenomics, these scientists specifically investigate the interplay between genes and nutrition, including the effects of food on gene expression, the effects of genetic variation on how individuals assimilate nutrients, and how these nutrients protect the genome from damage. Food microbiologists study microorganisms present in food and possible associated diseases.
- Developing food products: Food scientists help to improve existing food products and develop new products. They also help optimize the methods used to distribute, process, store, and preserve foods, and they ensure food safety and analyze food contents to determine product nutritional information. Formulation chemists can help develop innovative new products.
- Food service management: Large restaurants, hospitals, and other organizations serving food typically hire food service managers to oversee menu plans, food preparation, safety, catering staff, stock inventory control, and related administration.
- Writing about nutrition: Nutritional journalists and freelance nutrition writers develop nutrition-related content for the media, academia, government, and industry.
- Sports nutrition: Sports nutritionists apply nutritional planning and the latest scientific knowledge to boost athlete performance and endurance.
- Community & Public Health: This includes creating and/or implementing educational workshops for the general public and developing meal plans for schools, prisons, care homes, or programs for the elderly such as “Meals on Wheels.”
- Food industry: Besides working as a food scientist, nutrition experts can also work in e.g., customer service or marketing related to food products. A nutrition specialist can also work as a food chemist, toxicologist or food safety expert.
- Animal nutrition: Animal nutritionists or dietitians perform research or consult for veterinarians, zoos, animal welfare organizations, and animal food companies. These professionals are experts regarding which foods specific animals need to thrive and what may need to be supplemented to prevent illness.
- Plant nutrition: Plant nutritionists research the nutrient requirements of plants, various methods of using nutrition to protect plants from insects and microbial pathogens, and methods to detect plant nutrient deficiencies. They apply this knowledge to improve crop yields and to improve the nutritional value of these crops for human or animal consumption.
- Consulting: Some nutrition scientists work as freelance nutrition consultants and coaches for individuals and private organizations such as athletes, celebrities, fitness or wellness centers, care facilities, and corporations. Others assist non-profit and government programs in tackling food security and access issues.
While a university or college degree is not necessary to work in some areas of nutrition, most nutrition experts will have at least an undergraduate degree in nutrition science and/or dietetics (or a closely related science), while some roles and responsibilities require a master’s or doctoral degree.
Nutrition experts work in private practice, or for hospitals, care facilities, corporations, or consulting agencies. Some carry out research at universities, colleges, and research institutions, and others work for the government and non-profit organizations.
The job titles of nutrition experts vary according to the nature of their roles and specializations. These include Nutrition Scientist, Food Scientist, Nutritionist, Dietician, Nutrition Science Sales Associate, Education Program Specialist in Child Nutrition, Health & Nutrition Specialist, Nutraceutical Formulation Specialist, Food & Nutrition Services Manager, Nutrition Educator, etc. Their titles can reflect their academic role if they are researchers and lecturers, such as Instructor in Nutrition Science, Senior Scientist, Research Scientist, Principal Scientist, Nutrition Science/Dietetics Professor, and Department Head. Some nutrition specialists work as freelance nutrition writers, developing nutrition-related content for educational, news, and marketing purposes.
How much does it cost to hire a freelance nutrition consultant?
To hire freelance nutrition writers and nutrition consultants, the fee generally ranges from 30−100 USD per hour depending on the background and experience required. For example, a dietician working in community health would typically charge less than a nutrition scientist with Ph.D.-level research experience.
The hourly fee can be negotiated upfront or a flat fee can be discussed for projects of a defined scope and duration. Kolabtree offers a simple and cost-effective platform to access the top nutrition experts online.
How do you write an effective job post to hire a nutrition scientist?
To hire an expert in food and nutrition, you need to be clear of what the goal of your project is. Here are the top things to keep in mind.
- Skills required (e.g., nutrition genomics specialist)
- What the project area is (e.g., sports nutrition)
- What the project entails (e.g., consulting regarding the latest nutrigenomics research on optimizing athlete nutrition for endurance events)
- What the deliverables are (be specific about what you need the outputs to be)
- Duration of the project (provide an estimate of how many hours work you will need per week/by when you need the project to be completed)
- By when you need to hire (having more leeway on this will give you more time to choose the best expert for your needs)
- Your budget (per hour or fixed fee)
You may need an expert with expertise in a particular subject or area. On Kolabtree you can hire the following specialists:
Vegan Product Development Specialists
Vegetarian and Vegan Nutrition Experts
Herbal Products Formulation Experts
Herbs & Medicinal Plants Experts
Food Industry Consultants
Nutraceutical Development Experts
Ready to hire? Post your project on Kolabtree and get quotes from experts for free.