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How to Become a Nutritionist
How to become a nutritionist involves a love of healthy eating, in-depth knowledge of nutrition and its impact on the human body, and the education to gain that knowledge. If you care about your own health and have a desire to help others, then consider learning more about this rewarding profession.
What Is It Like to Be a Nutritionist?
Nutritionists, sometimes called dieticians, are experts who advise people, institutions, government entities, and private enterprises on nutritional values in foods. They manage menus in hospitals and nursing homes, for example. They could work with airlines who serve meals, and they could work in public or private health clinics, outpatient centers, or private physician offices. They can also work in correctional institutions of any type and age group. They can find gainful employment in assisted-living centers, community care centers for the elderly, and home health care centers. Nutritionists can even work in advertising and marketing.
You can start your path learning how to become a nutritionist with a vocational or associate-level online degree, but your entry level position would probably be as an aide. Nutritionists need a baccalaureate degree from an accredited online university.
What Kind of Schooling Do I Need to Become a Nutritionist?
Students interested in how to become a nutritionist, and the ensuing career, study offline or online courses in foods, nutrition, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, institution management, physiology and microbiology. Additional related courses include business management, psychology, sociology, and even computer sciences, among others.
Though not as prevalent, you can obtain an online masters degree or an online PhD in a related field to enhance your expertise and potential earnings. Once you have your degree, you are probably not quite finished with the process. You will probably have to pass a state exam or registration to work as a nutritionist. Exact requirements vary from state to state, but most have some kind of restriction. Sample degrees include Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Bachelor of Science in Food Management, or Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science.
Forty-eight states in the US and its territories require some level of accreditation to work under a job title of Dietician or Nutritionist. While you can work within the field with your four-year degree from a top online university, without the state accreditation you cannot perform certain procedures or functions. Thirteen states require specific licensing, twelve require statutory certification, and one only requires registration. Be sure to investigate your state’s statutes and regulations. Gaining proper state authority is the last step in how to become a nutritionist. Your state may also require you to attend and pass an internship in your field before issuing full accreditation.
After you obtain the proper level of your state’s authority, don’t neglect your continuing education. You may have to retake or reapply for continued authority, and most state accreditation programs require approximately 40 hours of field-related continuing education. Many nutritionists meet this requirement by pursuing a master’s degree or attending approved seminars and conferences. Be sure to check those requirements with your state, as well. Though not yet required for state accreditation, the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association may have information or offer continuing education credits.
If you are interested in improving people’s health and lives through healthy foods, this occupation may well be a satisfying one for you. Now that you have learned how to become a nutritionist, choose your school and get started.