Animal Nutritionist: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Animal nutritionists require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and salary projections to see if this is the right career for you.

Animal nutritionists need to have a strong understanding of a number of scientific disciplines, including animal behavior, chemistry, and physics. Aspiring animal nutritionists generally need to earn a doctoral degree in an area such as dietetics or nutrition before they can work in the field.

Essential Information

Animal nutritionists are animal scientists who formulate diets for specific types of animals. They may focus their work on agricultural, companion or zoo animals. Universities, scientific research firms and animal food manufacturing companies are among the employers of these professionals. Most animal scientists hold doctoral degrees. The field of study depends upon students' bachelor's degree majors and career goals.

Required Education Doctoral degree in nutrition, dietetics or another relevant field
Projected Job Growth for Animal Scientists 5-8% from 2014-2024*
Median Salary for Animal Scientists $60,390 (2015)*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Animal Nutritionist Job Description

Animal nutritionists create diets for a number of different types of animals, from birds and fish to mammals. They need to have a strong scientific background since their work pulls information from a variety of disciplines, such as biochemistry, physics, chemistry, and animal behavior. A strong understanding of economics and food processing techniques are also important. Animal nutritionists must keep in mind the nutritional needs and taste preferences of the animal for which they are formulating food. They must also consider cost and create economically-viable food.

Animal Nutritionist Duties

Animal nutritionists' main duties are to study the nutritional needs of animals based on individual factors, such as age and breed as well as analyze the nutritive values of animal feed products. They then use the information that they find to create improved dietary products for animals. Animal nutritionists may work in a number of different settings, like colleges and universities, teaching nutrition courses and conducting research. They may serve as consultants to farmers, teaching them which feed products may best improve the quality and quantity of their animal products, or they may help create marketing campaigns for pet food. Other industries that may need the services of animal nutritionists are pharmaceutical, pet foods and feed companies, along with zoos and veterinarians.

Animal Nutritionist Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, animal scientists, including animal nutritionists, earned a median salary of $60,390 in 2015. Most of these scientists made between $37,830 and $120,500 that year.

Salaries vary by industry and location. Scientists who worked in research and development services earned the highest median salary of $97,380. Animal scientists employed in Nebraska earned a median salary of $105,840, while those employed in Wisconsin made significantly less at $68,600 per year (BLS).

In addition to a solid scientific background and a doctoral degree, animal nutritionists must possess an understanding of food processing techniques. They should have a working knowledge of economics as well, because producing cost-effective foods that also meet an animal's nutritional needs is an important aspect of the profession. The median salary for all animal scientists, including nutritionists, was about $60,000 in 2015, but that number varies by employer and location.

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