Nutritionist Career Guide

Overview

If you are interested in being a nutritionist, some of the things that you need would include formal education, practical experience, and of course, love for food. One thing that you should keep in mind is that the foundation of being able to build a professional nutritionist career would begin in having basic knowledge in vitamins, minerals, and the benefits that can be obtained from certain kinds of foods. This knowledge can be further pursued through formal education, which is a basic requirement in such field.

Job Duties

Nutritionists or dietitians are considered by many to have the ability to do wonders in the transformation of an individual’s condition through the recommendations regarding food intake and lifestyle changes. Through formal learning and practice, you can have the ability to lead such transformation in the life of another person. Some of the major duties that you need to perform at work would include formulation of food plans, serving of hygienic and nutritious meals, and organizing nutrition programs. Before you pursue any educational program, you should first be aware of the job duties that will be expected from you, as such will provide you with an idea on whether such profession is for you or if you should pursue something else.

You will be expected to promote hygienic eating habits and treat certain illnesses. You will also be engaged in the modification of the current diet that is being followed by your patient. You can also run the food service system in an educational institution or health center. You may work with an individual patient or with a large group.

Career Outlook

Currently nutritionists or dietitians are in high demand. This can be attributed to the fact that more and more people are having increased awareness with regards to how they can maintain a fit and healthy body. In fact, according to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected that the job opportunities for nutritionists will increase by as much as 20% by 2020.

As a nutritionist, you are grounded on the assertion that foods play a significant role in maintaining a fit and healthy body. In this field, you will treat some common diseases like diabetes and heart problems. You can also be engaged in nutritional counseling, which is a popular job if you would want to be employed in schools, healthcare institutions, community care centers, and prisons, among others.

Aside from the institutions earlier mentioned, you can also build a career in food service centers, at which you will be expected to provide an assurance that the meals that they prepare are of the highest possible quality. More so, you can also serve as assistants of physicians and other healthcare practitioners.

Salary

If you want to become a nutritionist, you should expect that there are fluctuations in salary figures, just like in other fields. If you want to earn higher salary, you should gain more education experience and professional practice. In a report in October 2012, it has been noted that the median annual salary for dietitians is $54,877, which can go as high as $63,677, depending on your qualifications.

Education Requirements

A basic requirement in pursuing a career in this field would be a bachelor’s degree in related fields like dietetics, food service management, and nutrition. On average, this education can be completed in a period of four years. One thing that you might realize is that although they may be different, the dietetics and nutrition degree programs are linked with each other.

If you plan to pursue dietetic programs, emphasis will be given on the promotion of health and disease prevention through the principles of food preparation and meal planning. More so, in nutrition science programs, the role of nutrition and its importance in life will be thoroughly studied.

If you want a more elaborate education, you can consider the pursuit of master’s degree or doctoral degree. This will provide you with better qualifications for employment. Some of the topics that will be studied at this level will include biochemistry, nutritional status, exercise, metabolic diseases, and botanical medicine, among others.

License Requirements

In the 48 states in the U.S., the laws regarding this profession will be different depending on the governing authorities. Out of all states, 35 states require licensure, while in 12 states you will find nutrition certification requirements to get registered as a dietitian. The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), which operates under American Dietetic Association, certifies nutritionists. After a formal education, you will need to take an exam in order to obtain license. In addition, you will need to complete at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice.

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