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.
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|
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 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.
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 $60,370 as of May 2018. 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 15% from 2016-2026, which is much faster than the average, per BLS.