Healthcare Careers

Learn About Starting Career as a Nutritionist

We are eating and living right, thanks to the nutritionists who have enlightened us with the right balanced diet. These food and nutrition experts are usually seen working in various environments with different clients. They assist medical conditions and those who wish to promote their overall health. 

If you want to be a nutritionist by career, don’t skip this post. Here is all that you need to know about nutritionists – education, credentials, licenses, required skills, scope, and more. 

Requirements of a Nutritionist 

Let us first see what the requirements are to become a nutritionist.

  • Obtain A Degree From A Reputed Dietetics Program

Achieving the essential degrees is the best way to define yourself as a professional nutritionist. While you can still become a nutritionist without a degree, attaining a degree in food and health-related fields is commended. These fields vary from food and nutrition sciences and dietetics to biology and chemistry. 

You have the alternative to choose from crash courses or a bachelor’s degree program. However, people who are serious about their profession as a nutritionist often take the longer passage and enroll for a bachelor’s degree. 

One of the most promising programs that extends accreditation for nutrition programs is the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.

  • Finish 1000 Hours Of Supervised Practice

It doesn’t stop after earning your degree. Experience is the only thing that’ll take you far. You’ll be required to finish a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised practice to broaden your scope of the real world. 

  • Clear A Competitive National Exam For RDNs

There is a national exam for those aspiring to become a nutritionist. The CDR’s Registration Examination for Registered Dietitians assesses your RDN eligibility. But you may only be able to appear for the exam after completing the above two steps. 

  • Get A Credible Food And Nutrition Licence From Your State

Every state approves the RDN credential to grant licenses. Be sure to check in with your state’s regulatory laws and requirements for food and nutrition practitioners. 

  • Keep Yourself Updated In Dietetics Through Consistent Learning And Exploration

Encourage yourself to keep learning once you pass the exam and earn the certifications. The world is constantly changing, and it is best to keep yourself updated on the latest research and practices to become a reputed and reliable nutritionist.  

Necessary Certifications for a Nutritionist

It is important to note that every state varies in licensure and certification requirements. A credible certification will go a long way in helping you land a satisfactory job as a nutritionist. 

Registered Dietitian (RD)

If you want to be an RD, you need to earn a degree from a program. However, it should be overseen by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. 

An RD can take up employment in various settings, from medical institutions to government agencies and private enterprises. 

To be an RD, you also need to be accredited by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) by passing the Registration Examination for Dietitians Test. 

Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN)

You need a background in biochemical science as a Bachelor’s or Master’s to become a CCN. You also need to have a credential by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board assessment. 

As a CCN, you will conduct case studies and lab tests to discern the best therapy for patients to gain the best results. You’ll also be able to refer your patients to a physician. 

Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)

To be a CNS, you need to earn more than a Bachelor’s degree. You should have a degree in Master of Science with 1000 hours of practice. 

A CNS can take up advanced medical nutrition therapy and conduct research. CNS is accredited by the Certification Board of Nutrition Specialists. 

Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR)

A DTR’s job is to alternate between clinical nutrition care and food service. DTRs need one of the two following requirements. They should either have an associate or bachelor’s degree from a reputable college or university and undergo an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics program with a minimum of 450 hours of supervised experience.

Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered (NDTR)

If you have an associate degree, you can work as an NDTR. You have the option to choose from DTR and NDTR, but you should go for NDTR if you wish to include nutrition as a field of expertise. 

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

To become an RDN, you need to pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration assessment. RDNs can work in hospitals, nursing homes, universities, and fitness centers.

What Should You Do to Become a Nutritionist?

Aside from earning the required degrees and credentials, here are some other important things to do to become a nutritionist.

  • Practical Experience

The more experienced and practiced you are, the more credible your patients will regard you. Get yourself out there and get discovered on the right platforms through internships and freelancing. 

  • Internships

One of the best ways to mold your career as a nutritionist and gain practical experience is through internships. Internships allow you to understand your patients, get hands-on experience in office work, and even manage food delivery. 

  • Freelance Nutrition Job

Another way to widen your scope as a nutritionist is to freelance. This can involve diet and lifestyle coaching, volunteering in non-profit agencies, and making case-by-case studies on nutrition. 

Skills Necessary for a Nutritionist

Since a nutritionist deals with people daily, there are several skills that they need to deal satisfactorily with patients. 

  • Strong communication skills and an empathetic nature
  • Ability to stay updated on the latest trends
  • Critical thinking capacity with proficiency in mathematics 
  • Ability to multitask and be organized
  • Excellent teaching and guiding skills
  • Multi-lingual

A Nutritionist’s Outlook on Salary and Career

As of May 2021, nutritionists and dietitians earn about $61,650 to $72,000 annually, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This salary applies to those with a bachelor’s degree. The salary varies from level to level and state to state. BLS also records that nutritionist jobs are rising steadily, with an estimate that they will rise by 11% between 2020 and 2030.