Clinical Nutritional Services

Nutritionists work with doctors and patients to create healthful eating plans that provide proper nutrition and treat illnesses. Read on to learn more about this area of work, the education requirements, licensure and salary.

Are Clinical Nutritional Services for Me?

Career Overview

Clinical nutritionists might work in hospitals, nursing homes or prisons overseeing food service and ensuring dietary needs are met. If you want a career in clinical nutritional services, you should enjoy working closely with other people and have the ability to provide counseling that promotes healthy eating habits.

Clinical nutritionists typically study dietetics, food services and nutrition through programs at colleges and universities. You usually need at least a bachelor's degree in a related area to begin your career, and licensing is necessary in many states. With experience, you can move into management positions, and some clinical nutritionists work for themselves. You can also choose to specialize in specific areas, such as diabetic or pediatric nutrition.

Employment Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), predicted job growth for nutritionists and dietitians to be faster than average from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The best opportunities were available to workers who had certifications or advanced degrees, the BLS reported in 2012. Nutritionists made a median annual income of $55,920 in 2013. Experience, specialization and education were all factors that contributed to higher pay for nutritionists, the BLS reported.

How Can I work in Clinical Nutritional Services?

Education

If you are considering a career in clinical nutritional services, you will probably want to consider obtaining a bachelor's degree in nutrition or a related field, such as dietetics. The courses you take in an undergraduate nutrition program can include food production, clinical dietetics and children's nutrition. If you complete a degree program in nutrition, you can continue on to graduate school or medical school. A master's degree in nutrition can give you better opportunities for career advancement, especially in research-based jobs. Graduate students take advanced nutrition courses in topics such as physiological nutrition, metabolic regulation and molecular nutrition.

Licensure, Certification or Registration

According to the BLS, each state has its own requirements for nutritionist licensure, certification or registration. The Registered Dietitian designation is available to nutritionists and requires completion of an internship program and passing an exam. Registered dietitians must continue their education and take approved courses every five years in order to maintain this designation.

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