How to Become a Holistic Nutritionist in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a holistic nutritionist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Holistic Nutritionist?

A holistic nutritionist promotes optimum health by designing dietary plans that take a person's entire self into consideration, including balancing the person's mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. If you become a holistic nutritionist, you'll generally encourage clients to adopt eating habits that favor organic, nutrient-dense foods over processed foods. You will work with each client personally to develop a dietary program to meet their individual needs, all based on general holistic health principles. Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a holistic nutritionist is right for you.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Nutrition, psychology, chemistry and biology
Training Required Supervised internships common
Key Skills Analytical, organizational, problem solving, and speaking skills
Licensure Required Required by most states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% for all dietitians and nutritionists*
Median Salary (2015) $57,910 for all dietitians and nutritionists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

High school courses can prepare you for postsecondary education in holistic nutrition, especially if your school offers a course or courses in health and nutrition. Conventional biology and chemistry courses provide helpful background for the technical and scientific content of a nutrition program. Speech and English courses can develop your oral and written communication skills.

Step 2: Undergo Formal Training in Holistic Nutrition

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nutritionists typically need a bachelor's degree in nutrition, food service management or a related area ( However, accredited degree programs with a holistic orientation are relatively rare. One option would be to earn a bachelor's degree in nutrition, then earn a diploma or certificate degree in holistic nutrition or holistic health. A small number of schools offer master's degree programs if you want to teach holistic nutrition.

Holistic nutrition and traditional nutrition programs cover some of the same subject matter, notably the physiological effects of proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. Holistic programs also consider acid-alkaline balance, phytochemistry, complementary foods and organic cultivation. Food storage and management, Western and Eastern medicine, endocrinology, nutraceuticals and nutritional research are other possible topics.

Step 3: Participate in an Internship

Internships enable you to observe and participate in the daily work of a nutritionist. You may also build a network of contacts to draw on when you seek full time employment. If your school doesn't offer an internship, you may be able to arrange one through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP).

Step 4: Find Employment

BLS statistics show most nutritionists work for hospitals, nursing facilities, outpatient centers, local government agencies and private physicians. You could also choose to establish your own consulting business or attempt to secure a teaching position at a holistic health school. Dedicated figures for holistic nutritionists weren't available, but in the broader category of dietitians and nutritionists approximately 59,740 people were employed in 2015. The BLS predicted that employment would rise during the 2014-2024 decade by sixteen percent, to 77,600. The median salary of dietitians and nutritionists as of May 2015 was $57,910, the BLS noted.

Step 5: Obtain Certification

Although voluntary, certification can enhance your career prospects by demonstrating your knowledge of holistic health and nutrition. If you've completed training and accumulated 500 hours of professional experience in holistic nutrition, you are eligible for the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board's certification exam. A passing score is 70% or better. To retain certification you need to be a member of NANP and complete 30 hours of continuing education credits every two years.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Individuals who have an interest in health and nutrition may also want to consider becoming health educators and community health workers. These professionals instruct people on how to live healthy and balanced lives and work to improve the general health of the overall community. They could also consider careers as management dietitians, which oversee food programs for schools, cafeterias, hospitals and prisons. Dietitians may need special certification or additional training to use such a title.

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