Create the health kick of tomorrow

Food & Fitness careers
Health sciences offers so many awesome study pathways - QUT student Shaymus Malone chose nutrition science, but is now switching to physiology. Image: Ben Ashmole

Whether it’s training top footy players or designing healthy diets for patients with chronic illnesses, the career opportunities in food and fitness are epic

From the Queensland Maroons to the Australian Olympic swimming squad, behind every winning team is a group of experts who keep them in top form. Take a sneak peek into a pro sports training session, and you’ll find exercise physiologists coaching athletes to avoid injuries and sports dietitians developing nutrition plans to help them perform at their peak. 

With around 14 million Australians participating in sport each year, there are plenty of career options in food and fitness. The number of people employed in the sports and recreation industry has doubled in 20 years and is expected to reach over 100,000 by 2024. Nutritionists are also set to be in demand, with over 7000 jobs predicted to be up for grabs by 2025. 

Healthy life, healthy learning

Looking for a career to help people achieve their goals and live a healthier life? Exercise physiologists assist patients to manage chronic conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis through tailored exercise programs, while nutritionists offer dietary guidance to prevent food intolerances and food allergy flare-ups. Food product developers and culinary scientists create new products that are both tasty and nutritious. 

QUT’s food and fitness researchers don’t spend their time locked away in a lab. The team at the QUT Health Clinics’ Nutrition and Dietetics service use their food, nutrition and health expertise to help people make healthier choices and find practical solutions to their problems. A session with an accredited nutritionist or dietician could involve guiding clients on what to seek out on supermarket shelves, busting common myths about what’s healthy or unhealthy and designing personalised meal plans backed by the latest science.

The most exciting part? All consultations are led by final year students enrolled in the Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, giving them real-world experience before they graduate. Each student is supervised by an accredited practising dietician during their consultations with clients so that they can sharpen their skills and learn on the job. 

Fitness fans

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology have the opportunity to work with accredited professionals in the QUT Exercise Physiology Clinic. Here, students provide clients with exercise rehabilitation and assessments, and learn how to use technologies for monitoring and analysing performance. In addition to building their skills in QUT Health Clinics, students complete more than 500 hours of professional placement in settings such as hospitals, local government organisations and private health providers. 

Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science students also keep busy with 280 hours of professional placement with organisations such as sporting associations, fitness centres, academies of sport and plenty others. During these placements, students gain experience in their area of interest, which could include performance analysis of top athletes and sportspeople, strength and conditioning training, coaching and talent development and corporate health. 

Tech that saves your hamstrings

QUT exercise scientist Dr Tony Shield invented a portable device that can measure the strength of athletes’ hamstring muscles. 

Known as the NordBord Hamstring Testing System, the device can be used to predict the likelihood of an injury or track an athlete’s recovery and strength-building progress.  

Using sensors and data-capture software, the NordBord tests the amount of force a hamstring muscle generates while it lengthens.

The hamstring tester has attracted attention from some of the world’s biggest sporting teams, such as the English Premier League, the Rugby World Cup national teams and the National Football League in the United States.

Food and fitness myths

Myth #1 White potatoes are unhealthy: Potatoes aren’t just an empty carb after all. It turns out they are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C and fibre. 

Myth #2 Microwaving food makes it lose nutrients: While any type of cooking destroys some of the nutrients in food, microwaves don’t zap nearly as many vitamins and minerals as boiling or steaming. 

Myth #3 It’s better to exercise in the morning: Exercise does you good no matter what time of day it is. Unless you’re a morning person, feel free to hit snooze on your alarm and go for a run in the arvo. Win! 

Myth #4 If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough: Sweat isn’t an accurate way to measure how much effort you’re putting into your workout. Some people are sweatier than others, and temperature, humidity and hydration levels all play a role in how much sweat you produce. 

Start your career here

Food and Fitness + study

Food and Fitness + jobs

  • Exercise physiologist: $52K–$80K
  • Nutritionist: $46K–$108K
  • Dietitian: $52K–$92K
  • Food scientist: $44K–$94K
  • Rehabilitation specialist: $84K–$132K*

*Source: salaries according to payscale.com

This article was created in partnership with QUT and originally appears in the QUT STEM Guide 2022.

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Gemma Conroy

Author: Gemma Conroy

Gemma is a freelance journalist with a passion for making science accessible to everyone. Gemma has a degree in biology from Macquarie University and loves sharing amazing discoveries with the world.

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