How Do You Become a Nutritionist?

Nutritionist If you are planning to become a nutritionist, you are on the path to pursuing a career that is growing much faster than other professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 14,000 new careers in this field are projected by the year 2022. Nutritionists are dietary experts that help plan healthy menus, both for large institutions and for individuals with specific conditions that require special nutrition. Read on to learn more about how to become qualified for a job in this fast-growing health care field.

Educational Requirements

In most cases, nutritionists must earn a bachelor’s degree in food science, dietitics, nutrition, or a related field. As part of this degree, an internship that includes hands-on learning as a nutritionist is typically required. Some schools include this training as part of the degree program, while others must complete the several hundred hours of required internship training after graduation.

Licensure

Licensure and certification requirements for nutritionists vary by state, and may include either a required license, registration only, a combination of the two, or no official requirements. However, even if not required by the state, becoming a licensed nutritionist is attractive for potential employers and affords you additional opportunities in the field. The Certified Nutrition Specialist credential is administered through the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists and requires a graduate degree, 1,000 hours of experience in the field, and passing of a qualification exam. Many nutritionists choose to work in the field while earning hours toward this credential.

Personal Qualifications

In addition to education and experience requirements, the best nutritionists are those who have a true interest in healthy eating and its effect on the body. These professionals must love to work with people and have a clear compassion for the difficult health issues their clients may be facing. It’s also important to have an aptitude for science and to keep up with the latest research around dietetics and nutrition.

Nutritionist Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nutritionist make a median annual salary of around $55,000 per year. While most people in this field work full time, about 20 percent do work part time, particularly those who are self-employed. Earning certification and gaining years of experience, along with a graduate degree, is the best way to earn more money as a nutritionist.

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Rapid growth in this field is projected over the next 10 years largely due to the increased aging population; as these people live longer, they will be living with chronic conditions and require special nutritional needs to stay well. Pursuing a career as a nutritionist is a good way to ensure your financial and career stability for years to come. If you want to learn more about how to become a nutritionist, consider shadowing someone who already works in the field to get a idea of what daily life in this profession is like.