If you’re interested in finding out how to become a nutritionist, the first step will be to learn about the education requirements for this profession. Commonly, the career of the nutritionist can be confused with that of the dietitian. While there are several states that may require the nutritionist to have certification, the majority do not have state licensing regulations for this field. Potential employers in this field will prefer to hire applicants that have completed a formal training program.
Nutritionist Education Programs
Working as a nutritionist will require the individual to have extensive knowledge regarding how to plan healthy meals based on the weight loss goal of a client or a client’s health issues.
Prior to enrolling in a program a student should check with their state regarding regulations and requirements for nutritionists.
A student will have the option of choosing from an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree program in Nutrition and Health Sciences. These programs will feature courses in chemistry, nutrition, business, psychology, leadership, economics, patient documentation and meal planning. These nutritionist programs will also offer students experience in a health care setting such as a hospital or clinic under supervision of a certified nutritionist. An internship is usually held in a hospital, nursing home or hospice.
These different types of environments will provide the student with patients that have very diverse dietary needs and can prepare them with experience in specialty areas such as education and fitness, patient fitness and health, or working with the elderly population.
In states that do not require certification for the nutritionist, there are still programs available that are accredited by the ADA. The ADA is designed to oversee that all nutritionist programs feature course material that is beneficial for the profession.
This profession features courses that are heavy in science and requires the student to have adequate computer skills as the majority of patient documentation will be done on the computer.
After a student has completed a degree program they will need to take state licensing exams or take the ADA nutritionist exam to obtain their certification.
Where to Find Employment as a Nutritionist
A nutritionist is required to renew their license each year and in order to do so they will be required to earn 15 hours of continuing education through the state or the ADA. This is typically done by taking online courses that focus on meal planning and coaching for patients that suffer from different types of medical conditions such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, high cholesterol or diabetes.
A nutritionist should taking continuing education courses that will best benefit their area of employment, such as health and fitness, pediatric nutrition or men’s health.
You can find employment in this field through fitness centers, health clubs, hospitals or nursing homes. Some nutritionists will also start their own business as health consultants.
Working in a facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility will require the nutritionist to plan monthly meals based on the health needs of the elderly population like bland low sodium low cholesterol meals.