What Is a Nutrition Specialist?

Nutrition specialists work in many different environments, planning meals and educating others on the importance of a balanced diet. Keep reading to learn more about nutrition specialist education options, as well as certification information. Schools offering Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

As a nutrition specialist, you'll be responsible for helping your clients achieve healthy lifestyles through their dietary choices. You'll educate both children and adults on healthy eating habits to prevent nutritional deficiencies and diseases. You might treat individuals for obesity or help patients modify their current diets in response to the beginnings of a disease like diabetes.

You may be employed at schools, hospitals, or government agencies. To perform the tasks of a nutritionist, you must hold detailed knowledge of various science-related fields, including chemistry, biology, medicine, math, and psychology. You also should have customer service, communication, counseling, and administration skills. You'll need to develop a strong working relationship with your clients and build their trust as you help them alter their diets and exercise habits.

Important Facts About Nutrition Specialists

Similar Occupations Rehabilitation Counselor, Registered Nurse, Health Educator, Community Health Worker
Key Skills Organizational, analytical, listening, and problem-solving skills
Licensure Certain states will require a professional license
On-the-Job Training Hands-on training programs are typically available and take hundreds of hours to complete

Education

If you're looking to start a career as a nutrition specialist, a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition is usually the minimum requirement. You'll take classes and laboratories in food science, chemistry, physiology, and nourishment.

To earn your Master of Science in Nutrition, you'll need to take more advanced chemistry, anatomy, and nutrition classes with studies devoted to public health administration and statistical analysis. You might also need to submit a thesis and complete a clinical experience. A doctoral degree program in nutrition and dietetics allows you to perform advanced research and ends with a dissertation on an original nutrition subject.

Certification

After finishing your education, you may have to apply to become a licensed or certified nutritionist depending on your state. While every state has different requirements, the American Clinical Board of Nutrition (ACBN, www.acbn.org) is a certifying agency that can provide you with a diplomate in nutrition after you've fulfilled a lengthy set of requirements. ACBN certification requirements include earning a doctoral degree from an accredited nutrition program, completing a residency, holding work or research experience, publishing a journal article in the nutritional field, and passing an examination.

You also might consider becoming a Registered Dietitian with the American Dietetic Association (www.eatright.org). For this certification, you must receive a bachelor's degree from an accredited program, complete an internship, pass an exam, and fulfill continuing education requirements every five years. Gaining certification from a particular organization, however, doesn't mean that you'll necessarily meet your specific state requirements for certification or licensure.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average yearly wage for nutritionists and dietitians was $56,950 as of May 2014. The BLS also indicated that if you earn a graduate degree and certification, you might expect better career prospects. This career field was predicted to increase by 21% from 2012-2022, which was an average rate of growth. Hospitals were predicted to need nutritionists for patient meal planning and as the baby-boom generation ages, more individuals are seeking ways to stay healthier longer, resulting in a need for nutritionists.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master

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  • American University

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    Popular programs at American University:

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  • The George Washington University

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  • Capella University

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  • Grand Canyon University

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  • Herzing University

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  • University of the Southwest

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    Popular programs at University of the Southwest:

    • Master

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  • Northcentral University

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    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    • Master

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