Many people have asked, “How do I become a nutritionist?” as they explore possible career paths. The first step to answering this question is understanding exactly what a nutritionist does. Essentially, a nutritionist helps people to eat a healthy, balanced diet. They may assist clients who simply want to look and feel better or help clients meet a specific health related goal.
People who become a nutritionist may meet with clients one on one to assess their nutritional needs. Many of these health care professionals also counsel groups of people about the benefits of a healthy diet. Nutritionists are often responsible for designing and implementing a meal plan that allows clients to meet a specific goal like weight loss or cholesterol reduction. For this component of their job, the nutritionist will also follow up with clients to assess how well the meal plan is working, and make any necessary adjustments. Many nutritionists also plan the daily menus for schools, hospitals and other care facilities.
When someone decides that they would like to become a nutritionist, they must undergo the required education and training. Most nutritionists start by earning a bachelor’s degree in a discipline such as food service systems management, dietetics or foods and nutrition. Students enrolled in such a degree program will encounter subjects like anatomy and physiology as well as exploring nutrition related diseases and methods of weight management. Sanitation, food preparation and food storage are also introduced in these courses. Most students in a nutritionist degree program will be required to complete a number of scientific related courses like chemistry and biology.
In order to become a nutritionist, students must also complete many hours of supervised, on-the-job training. Some nutritionists complete this training after graduating with a degree, while other degree programs make an internship a part of the educational process. Some nutritionists also go on to earn higher degrees so that they are qualified for other jobs that have greater responsibility and better earning potential. In most states, the nutritionist will be required to become licensed or certified in order to practice. To become licensed or certified, applicants must typically have a bachelor’s degree, have completed their supervised training and passed the licensure examination.
The majority of nutritionists work in full time positions and enjoy good benefits. Average salaries for nutritionists are around $50,000 to $55,000 annually, although some nutritionists who work for large hospitals or major health care organizations may earn more. Studies suggest that the job outlook for people who want to become a nutritionist is strong, especially as the general population ages and more people are dealing with nutrition related health issues.
People who have achieved the proper education and training are likely to find that they will not lack for employment opportunities. Also, joining a professional organization like the National Association of Nutrition Professionals shows dedication to the field and provides valuable networking opportunities. With these kinds of credentials, getting a start as a nutritionist is easier than most people realize. This rewarding career allows workers to positively impact the lives of others and educate the public about the benefits of eating well.