How to Become a Certified Nutritional Consultant


There are very many types of nutritional consultants in the healthcare industry with different education and training pathways. If you are interested in becoming a nutritional consultant, there are many programs available that you can choose from.  The American Association of Nutritional Consultants (AANC) is the body that is tasked with training and issuing certifications to those who seek to be certified nutritional consultants.  The certification process includes passing a self-administered open-book exam and also involves a small application fee.

What are the Education Requirements to Become a Certified Nutritional Consultant?

A candidate to be a certified nutritional consultant must hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject and must have completed an internship of the specified duration. Additionally, the applicant must also hold license to practice in an accredited institution in their state. The educational requirements are however not very stringent. An applicant needs to demonstrate to the American Association of Nutritional Consultants that he/she is capable by passing the necessary test.

Additional qualification such as being a registered dietician, nutritional specialist or a medical doctor with specialized training in nutrition may however give an applicant an edge.

Application Process at AANC

Applicants are required to take and pass a series of eleven tests which are designed to test whether an applicant is well versed in the topics of general and applied nutrition and that they are capable to practice as nutritional consultants.

A payment of about $400 is required and is a onetime fee that covers the examination expenses, maintenance of records and the preparation of certification certificates among other expenses. Successful applicants are accorded the privilege of carrying the initials C.N.C after their official names and are issued with a certificate that shows that they met all the requirements for the certification process.

What Does a Certified Nutritional Consultant Do?

A nutritionist may decide to specialize in one area such as being a sports nutritionist, public health nutritionist, a food nutritionist or a clinical nutritionist. Each one of these specializations has different job duties.

Sports Nutritionists; sports nutritionists will mostly focus on the effects of diet on the sports performance of their client; thus they will come up with an analysis of the calories that an athlete will burn when competing, training or exercising. They will then use this analysis to come up with a dietary plan that may sometimes include nutritional supplements.  Nutritionists in this category may work with individual athletes, school sports teams or even professional sports teams and some may decide to devote their careers to research.

Clinical Nutritionists; they mostly deal with providing dietary advice for the purpose of keeping an individual or their client healthy. They may help an individual come up with a dietary plan so that they can either lose or gain weight or even help some people with allergic reactions to certain foods be able to avoid such foods and still have a balanced diet.

Public Health Nutritionists; they most commonly work for government agencies and universities and typically don’t work with individuals but with demographic groups. They find out the nutritional habits of the different demographics and then recommend a nutritional plan for that demographic. They are also instrumental in educating the public on good nutrition habits.

Food Nutritionists; they usually work for food manufacturers and are tasked with analyzing the nutritional content that is in the food produced to ensure that it complies with the state regulations.

Personal Skills and Qualities of a Certified Nutritionist

A good nutritionist should have an analytical mind since they will mostly be advising clients on dietary requirements, a task that involves working with facts. They should also be able to understand and interpret scientific studies and also know how the new scientific information may affect the advice that they will give to their clients.

Since nutritionists will be working first hand and directly with a number of different personalities, it is important that a certified nutritionist posse the necessary people skills that will come in handy when dealing with their clients. For instance, a nutritionist should be a good listener in order to effectively understand their client’s needs.

What is the Salary for a Certified Nutritional Consultant?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies a dietician and a certified nutritionist consultant as a single occupation. In May 2011, the mean income for this profession as estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was $54,470 per year with the top 10% earners in this profession having an income of about $76,400 and the bottom 10% taking home about $34,300 or less every year.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics however expects that this profession will experience a lot of growth in the next few years as more and more people are interested in their nutritional requirements and the growing public interest on the subject.  It is important to note, however, that many certified nutritionists are in private practice.

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