How to Become a Nutritionist

How to Become a Nutritionist

Balanced nutrition is an essential part to leading a healthy lifestyle, but many people are unaware of the impact nutrition has on their lives. Licensed professionals are needed to assess the nutrition of a variety of people and promote healthy eating habits to prevent and treat illnesses and provide a sense of overall well being. This is the job of nutritionists.

What does a nutritionist do?

Nutritionists are nutrition specialists that assess the nutrition of patients and provide safe dietary advice that is based on evidence. They also provide advice and create programs for institutions. They develop food and nutrition programs, oversee serving of meals, supervise meal preparation, and recommend dietary modifications. Nutritionists evaluate sources of nutrition, nutritional deficiencies, and provide education to the public about proper nutrition. Some work directly with a variety of patients such as children, elderly, cancer patients, athletes, diabetic patients, and others that require a special diet. Others work for public health agencies educating the public about proper nutrition. Many nutritionists also provide weigh loss advice and help patients learn how to make diet and exercise modifications to improve their health.

What kind of training does a nutritionist need?

Nutritionists need at least a bachelor degree in nutrition, foods, food service management or other related field. Aspiring nutritionists typically take courses in foods, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, and physiology. There are many nutrition programs that are approved by the American Dietetic Association. Many complete internships while attending school to gain hands-on experience. Approximately 35 states require nutritionists to be licensed. Requirements vary by state, but often include minimum education and experience and passing a written examination. Nutritionists must complete continuing education courses to maintain their licenses.

What are the prospects for a career as a nutritionist?

Employment of nutritionists is projected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 9% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Job growth will be driven by the increasing focus on preventing disease and illness through proper nutrition.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for nutritionists with advanced education and extensive experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace nutritionists that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do nutritionists make?

As of October 2009, nutritionists with less than 1 year experience earned average annual salaries between $28,486 and $39,305. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earned average annual salaries between $29,314 and $40,731 (2).

A career as a nutritionist is an excellent choice for individuals who have a strong interest in nutrition and promoting a healthy diet to a variety of people. Nutritionists must be well educated about nutrition and be able to encourage and motivate individuals in a variety of settings. Compassion, patience, determination, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential. Nutritionists must also be able to work effectively as part of a team and independently.

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