What Are Some Popular Career Options in Nutrition?
With the growing interest in diet and its relationship on health and wellness, nutritionists are finding increased career options. Nutrition careers can be found in the public health sector, community organizations, corporations, sports organizations, and clinical or research facilities. Schools offering Fitness & Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Options for Nutritionists
Career options for nutritionists are available in areas ranging from sports to education. They may be employed in the public health sector, community organizations, corporations, clinical and research facilities, or sports organizations. In addition to positions working directly with patients, nutritionists may develop educational programs for organizations, consult with product development companies or research nutrition programs or products. Some nutritionists develop a specialization, such as pediatric or geriatric nutrition. Some of the most common types of nutritionists include clinical nutritionist, community nutritionist and management dietitian.
Clinical nutritionists typically work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, medical clinics, private practices and other environments where residents or patients are in need of medical nutrition counseling. They may provide guidance on nutrition principles and dietary needs as well as prepare meal plans specific to a patient's health needs. Some clinical nutritionists may focus on patients with specific dietary needs, such as those with diabetes.
A community nutritionist may work for the government, non-profit organization or public health clinics. They create and implement programs designed to educate the public about food and nutrition. Community nutritionists may also speak to groups or teach classes to promote wellness, encourage good eating habits and ways to manage or prevent specific diseases. They may also advise the public on nutrition services available to them.
Individuals who work as management dietitians are responsible for meal planning in large settings, such as schools, hospitals, prisons or hospitals. Besides creating healthy menus, they may be responsible for administrative and management tasks, such as purchasing food and supplies, preparing budgets and overseeing the kitchen staff.
Education and Licensing Requirements
Nutritionists are typically required to have at least a bachelor's degree in an area such as dietetics, clinical nutrition or food service management. Most states also require nutritionists and dietitians to be licensed or certified. Requirements vary by state but generally include having a bachelor's degree in a food or nutrition area, completing a specific amount of supervised hands-on training and passing an exam, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Prospective nutritionists may also choose to earn a voluntary credential to demonstrate their expertise in the field, such as the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS). Though not required, the steps to earn RDN certification are often the same steps needed to earn state licensure, and employers may prefer candidates who hold this designation, per the BLS. The CNS credential requires applicants to have a master's degree or higher as well as 1,000 hours of experience. Many states accept this credential for state licensure.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the BLS, nutritionists were projected to see 21% growth in employment from 2012-2022. The mean annual wages for these workers were $56,300 in May 2013. Most workers earned between $33,980 and $78,720 that year.
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