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Clinical Nutrition Certificate Program and Career Facts

Certificate programs in clinical nutrition are not generally available, although you can earn certificates in other areas of nutrition. Degrees in clinical nutrition are most common at the graduate level, but a few schools do offer bachelor's degrees. Find out about these degree programs, including required courses and online study options and learn how to earn professional certification.

What You Need To Know

Clinical nutritionists are highly trained nutrition professionals who work with clients to determine their individualized optimal diet structure. Professionals working in this field focus on how foods are digested and assimilated and how they affect the body biochemically. Certificate programs in clinical nutrition are not generally available, although you can earn certificates in other areas of nutrition.

Certificate programs related to clinical nutrition can prepare you for a career as a dietitian or nutritionist. These jobs perform work similar to clinical nutritionists, with a focus on determining healthy food and eating choices for specific clients. The outlook for these careers is good and these professionals may work in a variety of settings in both the private and public sector.

Median Salary (2017)* $59,410 (dietitians and nutritionists)
Career Outlook (2016-2026)* 15% (dietitians and nutritionists)
Certificate Programs Certified Clinical Nutritionist at the master's degree level, certificate programs in general, family and school nutrition also available

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Clinical Nutrition Certificate Programs Can I Find?

Certificate programs in clinical nutrition aren't generally available. However, you can find certificate programs in such areas as general nutrition, family nutrition and school nutrition. These programs are generally available through continuing education departments or as non-credit programs. You may be interested in this type of certificate program if you are a professional who is already working in the field or a student from a science background who wants to study nutrition. Nutrition certificates are also available as additional study for undergraduate students interested in this field or at the graduate level.

What Other Options Are Available?

Clinical nutrition programs are commonly found at the graduate level. In these programs, you can learn about therapeutic effects of nutrition and disease prevention methods. You'll study the use of scientific principles in food therapy and how dietary factors can prevent cancer. Some common core courses include nutrient molecular biology, nutritional biochemistry, nutrition support, clinical dietetics and metabolism.

Bachelor's degree programs in clinical nutrition are also available, although not as common. You may also be able to study clinical nutrition at the undergraduate level through nutritional sciences programs. If you plan to pursue certification as a clinical nutritionist, you'll want to take core courses in science, in addition to nutrition courses.

Are There Online Programs?

You can find several online master's degree programs to help you prepare for a career in clinical nutrition. These programs offer the same curriculum as an on-campus program, but may not include a thesis requirement. In online clinical nutrition programs, you'll be able to study therapeutic nutrition, assessment, food science and research methods.

What About Certification?

While the BLS reports that to work as a nutritionist, you'll only need a bachelor's degree and potentially a state license, if you want to work as a clinical nutritionist, you may consider becoming a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN). The Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNBC) issues the CCN exam, which proves you have the training, knowledge and skills to practice as a CCN. You may apply to take the exam only after you have completed the educational requirement of 56 hours of coursework in the Post Graduate Studies in Clinical Nutrition Program (PGSCN), no matter what your degree or level of professional practice. However, you may be exempt from the PGSCN if you have a graduate degree from a CNBC-approved nutrition program. Once certified, you will have to refresh your credential every two years with 40 hours of continuing education credits.