Do you have a passion for healthy eating and want to share that excitement with others? A career as a nutritionist might be something to consider. A nutritionist is an individual who has studied and learned how the use of foods and supplements can promote healthy living and help combat diseases. Using their expertise, a nutritionist can advise their patients on healthy eating habits and assist in developing a meal plan tailored for that client's needs. For example, a person with diabetes may need a meal plan that is low in fat. Over time a nutritionist will help modify the meal plan for the patient to help maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Nutritionist may also develop educational materials or even promote public awareness to the benefits of eating healthy.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook the national average income for a professional nutritionist is $59,000 a year. This is also an occupation that is expected to see continued growth in years to come as more is learned about the benefits of proper nutrition and health. Jobs as a nutritionist are available in cafeteria work, hospitals, nursing homes, self-employment and more.
To become a nutritionist will vary depending on your state and the necessary licensing or certification requirements. Not all states require licensing or certification but please do your due diligence and check the requirements of your state. For the sake of this article the focus will be those states that do require a license to practice. The reason for this is that if you're committed to your career your credibility as a professional nutritionist will benefit from becoming certified through the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists. In addition while your state may not have any requirements your future employer may have specific education and certification qualifications for a position.
Typically a nutritionist will need to have a bachelor degree in food and nutrition or similar area of study such as dietetics or even public or clinical nutrition. Other courses including health, chemistry and biology are also valuable in this field especially if you are focused on achieving a higher graduate degree like a masters or doctorate. In addition to educational studies, most states will require several hundred hours of supervised training. This training can be accomplished through an internship. The internship can often be completed during your course of study. Be sure to check with your college to find out if opportunities exist. Your state may also require that you pass certain field related exams to become fully licensed. For a nutritionist the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) is often an accepted certification. This certification can be achieved through the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists . To maintain the CNS certification, 75 hours of continued education is required every 5 years.
Other skills and abilities that will benefit those seeking a career as a nutritionist include good listening and speaking skills. The ability to listen to a patient's desired objectives and communicate a workable dietary plan is important. You will also need to be able to analyze current and changing research in regards to nutrition and the ability to adapt dietary plans accordingly. Overall organization and computer skills will help to become a successful nutritionist too. Working as a nutritionist has many benefits and can be a very rewarding career.